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Garner's Modern American Usage [Hardcover]

by Bryan A. Garner
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)


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Garner's Modern American Usage Garner's Modern American Usage 4.6 out of 5 stars (60)
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Book Description

October 30, 2003 0195161912 978-0195161915 2
The first edition of Garner's Modern American Usage established Bryan Garner as "an American equivalent of Fowler" (Library Journal). With more than 23,500 copies sold, this witty, accessible, and engaging book has become the new classic reference work praised by professional copyeditors as well as the general public looking for clear advice on how to write more effectively. In 1999, Choice magazine named it an Outstanding Academic Book and the American Library Association dubbed it an Outstanding Reference Source. With thousands of succinct entries, longer essays on key issues and problematic areas, and up-to-the-minute judgments on everything from trendy words to the debate over personal pronouns, GMAU is approachable yet authoritative.
Since the book first appeared in 1998, Bryan Garner has diligently continued tracking how we use our language. The second edition includes hundreds of new entries ranging from Dubya to weaponize (coined in 1984 but used extensively since 9/11) to foot-and-mouth, plethora (a "highfalutin equivalent of too many"), Slang, Standard English, and Dialects. It also updates hundreds of existing entries. Meanwhile, Garner has written a major essay on the great grammar debate between descriptivists and prescriptivists. Painstakingly researched with copious citations from books and newspapers and newsmagazines, this new edition furthers Garner's mission to help everyone become a better writer, and to enjoy it in the process.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Garner's Modern American Usage is the latest by the author and editor of several legal dictionaries (including Black's Law Dictionary), among other works on language and style. The second edition maintains the same basic format as the first (called Dictionary of Modern American Usage), published in 1998: each entry discusses the usage of the word, provides quotations for illustration, and gives citations. There are two types of entries. Word entries, which are generally short, discuss individual words or groups of words. Essay entries discuss topics related to usage and style, including contractions, danglers, punctuation, and subject-verb agreement, among others. Compared to the first edition's entry for complexioned; complected, the second edition makes only minor editorial changes; the real difference is the easier-to-read spacing in the updated volume. The second edition shows more substantive changes in the essay entry for Passive voice without changing the basic meaning or adding unnecessarily to the length of the essay. New entries include DVD, Internet, World Wide Web, and, as Garner insists, webpage.

The Columbia Guide to Standard American English (Columbia Univ., 1993) takes a more prescriptive tone than Garner's and maintains more succinct entries on usage topics (comparing entries on passive voice, for instance). The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (3d ed., Oxford, 2000) is more descriptive, on the other hand, and includes examples from published fiction, where most of Garner's quotations come from newspapers and journals. Because of its somewhat conversational style and extensive essays on usage topics like sexism, Garner's might be best used, as the author suggests, for "browsing a little at a time or for serious reading" and later consultation. Appended material includes a glossary, "A Timeline of Books on Usage," and a selected bibliography. Recommended for public and academic libraries, especially if the institution does not own the first edition. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review


"Garner's Modern American Usage by Bryan A. Garner should have a place on every writer's reference shelf. Combining meticulous research, clear explanations and a subtle sense of fun, this masterwork is the new authority to which we all should submit."--Writer's Digest


"In Garner's Modern American Usage... Bryan A. Garner offers a reference guide for writers, editors and students, and a playground for language lovers. This updated and expanded version of the 1998 book features 900-plus pages with more than 9,000 alphabetical entries and subentries, 181 essays, and 7,200 examples culled from newspapers, books and magazines, all to promote the proper use of English words."--Ron Berthel, Associated Press


"The second edition is as informative and entertaining as the first....An excellent guide to American English usage with the added strength of easy readability. Highly recommended."--Choice


"People who are serious about their writing collect and frequently consult usage manuals. Theodore Bernstein's The Careful Writer and The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, edited by R.W. Burchfield, are classics and are still in print. But the one I turn to first is Garner's Modern American Usage by Dallas-based Bryan A. Garner (Oxford University Press, $39.95; 879 pp.). His judgments are solid, and he has a knack for explaining knotty grammatical and stylistic matters in clear language. First published in 1998, the book is just out in an updated second edition."--Houston Chronicle


"A jewel of a reference, now in its second edition, answers just about any question you may have about the usage of American English.... paging through is a treat because you never know what you will learn next. Garner, whose passion for language is evident throughout, also includes illuminating essays addressing issue of usage and style, neatly listed at the beginning of the book to help users identify them. The entries are detailed and engaging--those for 'impactful.' 'sexism,' and 'phrasal adjectives,' for example, are so thorough that they alone make the book worth the price. Essential for wordsmiths, librarians, and literary types of all persuasions."--Library Journal (starred review)



Product Details

  • Series: Garner's Modern American Usage
  • Hardcover: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition (October 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195161912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195161915
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.9 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bryan Garner is the award-winning author or editor of more than 20 books. He is a prolific lecturer, having taught more than 2,500 writing workshops since the 1991 founding of his company, LawProse, Inc. His works include Garner on Language and Writing and Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, co-written with Justice Antonin Scalia. Garner has served as editor-in-chief of Black's Law Dictionary since 1995, and he is the author of the grammar-and-usage chapter in the venerable Chicago Manual of Style.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
151 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy heir to Fowler December 16, 2003
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For three generations, a single book dominated the market as the authoritative reference in matters of grammar, style, and usage in the English language: "A Dictionary of Modern English Usage" by H.W. Fowler, first published in 1926, ably revised by Sir Ernest Gowers in 1965, and now in its third edition (published 1996). But by the century's last quarter, the modern English language -- particularly its American dialect -- had begun outgrowing Fowler, and several newer guides began competing with it. The third (1996) edition of Fowler was a disappointment, and left the field without a clear leading authority.
That gap was filled in 1998, when Bryan A. Garner wrote "A Dictionary of Modern American Usage" (published by the Oxford University Press, which also published Fowler). Finally, someone had written a book that matched Fowler -- not only in its erudition, but also in its accessible style, and even its wry sense of humor. And Garner's book had the advantages of being written both in modern times for a modern audience, and in the United States by an American author about American English. The book is a gem, and as authoritative a reference as you will find in this field in the last several decades (and probably the next several too).
"Garner's Modern American Usage" is this oustanding work's second edition, now retitled after its author in view of the acclaim that the first edition earned. A new edition is appearing after only five years because, as Garner explains, "changing usage isn't really the primary basis for a new edition of a usage guide: it's really a question of having had five more years for research." The payoff shows.
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93 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roll over Fowler; tell Partridge the news... April 30, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant book. It is as erudite and authoritative as a usage book should be, but without offensive cant or needless pedantry. It is scrupulously edited and handsomely presented by the Oxford University Press in their usual exemplary manner. While Bryan A.Garner concentrates on American English usage (that's where the market is) he is no stranger to "BrE" or any other kind of English. Just to give you a hint about what makes the man tick and why he is now considered the preeminent authority on "grammar, usage, and style" (as a blurb on the book's cover--for a change--rightly has it), consider these words from the Preface to the Second Edition:

"People have asked whether enough has really changed in English usage since 1998 to justify a new edition. The answer is that changing usage isn't really the primary basis for a new edition of a usage guide: it's really a question of having had five more years for research."

He isn't kidding. What Garner brings to this usage book that completely dwarfs* all previous efforts is a gargantuan research regimen. This is clear from the thousands of examples of usage presented, both good and bad, from all manner of publications: newspapers, small town and big city; novels, classic and contemporary; magazines and journals, literary and scientific, etc. Garner obviously has a passion for words and seems determined to let no genre or form of reading matter go unread or unscrutinized. I didn't find an example from one of my reviews, but (given the many faux pas that I have, alas, committed in nearly 800 reviews) I fully expect that dubious honor in the third edition!). Yes, Garner is onto the Web and indeed he frequently quotes statistics of use garnered (sorry!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific March 8, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For years I have relied upon and loved Fowler's Modern English Usage. I think Garner is a terrific successor to Fowler. He expands upon what Fowler offers and puts more of an American spin on his entries. I particularly like his expanded entries on pronounciation, phrasal adjectives, and hypercorrection. I think this volume is very useful for those who taking writing seriously.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I agree with all the reviewers that Garner's Modern American Usage is one of the best (if not THE best) books on Usage. I recently attended Brian Garner's writing seminar (also excellent!) and he told me that he will have a new edition of this book in 2008. I'm thinking of waiting until then to purchase it.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy heir to Fowler November 26, 2003
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For three generations, a single book dominated the market as the authoritative reference in matters of grammar, style, and usage in the English language: "A Dictionary of Modern English Usage" by H.W. Fowler, first published in 1926, ably revised by Sir Ernest Gowers in 1965, and now in its third edition (published 1996). But by the century's last quarter, the modern English language -- particularly its American dialect -- had begun outgrowing Fowler, and several newer guides began competing with it. The third (1996) edition of Fowler was a disappointment, and left the field without a clear leading authority.
That gap was filled in 1998, when Bryan A. Garner wrote "A Dictionary of Modern American Usage" (published by the Oxford University Press, which also published Fowler). Finally, someone had written a book that matched Fowler -- not only in its erudition, but also in its accessible style, and even its wry sense of humor. And Garner's book had the advantages of being written both in modern times for a modern audience, and in the United States by an American author about American English. The book is a gem, and as authoritative a reference as you will find in this field in the last several decades (and probably the next several too).
"Garner's Modern American Usage" is this oustanding work's second edition, now retitled after its author in view of the acclaim that the first edition earned. A new edition is appearing after only five years because, as Garner explains, "changing usage isn't really the primary basis for a new edition of a usage guide: it's really a question of having had five more years for research." The payoff shows.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful and fun! ~
A chance recommendation by a fellow reviewer on an Amazon "Top Reviewers" thread turned me on to this wonderful book (2003 edition) and my life is changing for the better. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Allen Smalling
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Read
You can read this book for sheer pleasure as well as for information. I take it to bed with me every night. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Sidney Gendin
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gold Standard
Garner is the man. Authoritative, sophisticated advice from a deep thinker on language matters. Nice nuanced up-to-date reasoning on American usage. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Verbal Drug
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use & understand - even for a non-professional
After 20 years developing software, I switched to product marketing - with a related but wholly different set of skill requirements. Read more
Published on February 11, 2009 by Cheryl
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, essential; a masterpiece
I have purchased several of Mr. Garner's books and this one, like all the others, is a masterpiece. Mr. Read more
Published on May 19, 2008 by D. Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Bryan Garner I Worship You
Garner's Usage is likely the single most useful and entertaining book on the topic. Little else needs to be said about it.
Published on April 11, 2008 by Alexandria Zertuche
5.0 out of 5 stars Professor Garner
Garner's Modern American Usage My daughter attends law school at SMU in Dallas where Garner is adjuct professor. She says he is a great teacher. We ordered two copies. Read more
Published on March 21, 2008 by Pops in Alabama
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable
I ordered this reference based on an essay I read by David Foster Wallace titled "Authority and American Usage. Read more
Published on February 28, 2008 by JJ Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars Layman's Opinion
Being a layman, and not a wordsmith as some of the review-writers here, this will not be an eloquently written review, however the results are the same. Read more
Published on January 4, 2008 by E. Cohen
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I needed wanted
It's an English language-American, usage book, exactly what I wanted. Previous reviews were helpful.

Excellent
Published on December 27, 2007 by Dead Eye Dick
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David Foster Wallace review of this book
You're absolutely right!
Apr 24, 2009 by Zachary Bernstein |  See all 8 posts
I'm thinking of buying GMAU 3, but I hate to think GMAU4 will be out...
Well, it's been over two years since you posted this, and GMAU4 has yet to see the light of day, and I can't find any references to it online. So I suspect there will be at least another year until the next edition is available.

Given that you can currently buy this edition for about US$25, and... Read more
Oct 1, 2013 by Megarat |  See all 3 posts
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