Your Garage botysf16 Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc PME Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Patriotic Picks Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer AllOrNothingS1 AllOrNothingS1 AllOrNothingS1  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Segway miniPro

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars33
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$20.00+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on April 27, 2001
I have used The Careful Writer with English classes for years, and was disappointed a while back when I thought it was out of print. Just this morning a student came to me with a question about whether "none" was singular or plural, and Bernstein had a great set of comments and suggestions on its usage. If you're an English teacher, grab this book. If you do any kind of writing, grab this book. If you enjoy amusing accounts while you're looking up some arcane grammar point, grab this book. Need I say more?
0Comment|72 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon February 27, 2003
I suppose one might argue that other usage guides are perhaps more thorough and instructive but for quality none outshines The Careful Writer. Theodore M. Bernstein created a gem for the ages when he assembled this collection of some 2,000 entries. I cannot imagine how often I've consulted this text to resolve some slippery usage issue or to refine my own text.
If you need help sorting out the use gender vs. sex, for instance, here you will find that gender is a grammatical term and not at all synonymous with sex. If you are not sure whether the context demands the use of fewer or less, Bernstein will set you straight. Did your supervisor remove all the commas you correctly inserted into a report? Check out the clear, precise explanation here.
Even as the standards of language erode, there are still many who strive to uphold correctness, precision, and nuance over fad and fashion. If you can find a copy of The Careful Writer, you will have a powerful tool to help preserve the legacy of our language.
Any copy editor, writer, broadcast journalist, or English professor who does not yet have a copy of Mr. Bernstein's stellar book is bereft of one of the essential compendiums of usage. It's well worth the effort to track down and purchase this book, for you will consult it with increasing frequency as you become aware of what a rich resource it is.
0Comment|73 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 3, 2001
I've been a professional editor (books and magazines) for more than 20 years, and Theodore Bernstein's book remains my hands-down favorite reference. The information is comprehensive, the explanations are crystal-clear AND often humorous, and the organization makes the book extremely easy to use. It has never failed me -- I turn to it for both my own questions and my co-workers' questions, and it always provides an answer. It's even fun to read!
This book belongs on every writer's and editor's bookshelf.
0Comment|52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 2, 2000
I have read many grammar books over the years, and this is the best of them all. It was originally published in 1965; but since the English language changes very slowly, 99% of the book is still modern and accurate. This may be the only book on grammar you will ever need.
0Comment|36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 18, 2002
This is, indeed, a wonderful book, just as the other reviewers have said. People who are interested in language think most books on grammar and usage are entertaining even if they're really dry as dust. That's just how we are. This book, however, is much more entertaining that those that are really dry as dust.
The format of this book is easier on the eyes than many heavier tomes on usage. The pages have only a single, full column with bold heads and plenty of white space.
Bernstein has answers that can't be found elsewhere. Here's an example. Suppose you've written a paper you hope will be published in a scholarly journal. You submit the paper to your department head. He or she sends it to a peer reviewer. The reviewer writes that your ideas are "interesting, if not innovative." Based on that comment your department head refuses to submit the paper for publication. But did the reviewer mean your ideas were interesting BUT not innovative, or did he or she mean your ideas were NOT ONLY interesting BUT ALSO innovative. I checked five reference books searching for an answer. Only Bernstein came through. According to Bernstein, only tone of voice could distinguish between the two meanings, and so the construction "[this], if not [that]" should not be used in writing because of its ambiguity.
0Comment|20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon July 15, 2012
Theodore Bernstein's fifty-year-old, 512-page The Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to English Usage (the Free Press, 1963) and its more than 2000 problem-solving entries has some of the best tips you'll need if you're serious about becoming a writer. Bernstein, former consulting editor of the New York Times, wrote/co-wrote seven books on writing, but this one--in my estimation--is his best. The font styles are old; the archaic structure of its syntax at times made me chuckle; and the topic is as appealing as banana juice (though I understand our Army boys in Kuwait love it--they can't keep it stocked), but it has stood the test of time and writers should consider it a must-have for their reference library. Where else will you go with a question like, Is 'none' singular or plural? It doesn't hurt that Bernstein schools us-readers with a dry sense of humor, making the medicine more palatable.

A little about Theodore Bernstein (November 17, 1904 - June 1979). He was an assistant managing editor of The New York Times and from 1925 to 1950 a professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism. When he died, Time Magazine wrote an obit bio on him that read like this:

Back in the old days, a brilliant editor of The New York Times named Theodore M. Bernstein was also a professor at Columbia J School. After he died in 1979, Time Magazine noted, "Theodore M. Bernstein, 74...served as the paper`s prose polisher and syntax surgeon for almost five decades, authoring seven popular texts on English usage and journalism...In a witty Times house organ called `Winners and Sinners', the shirtsleeves vigilante caught solecists in the act."

Bernstein would have objected to their neologistic use of 'author' as a verb. Today, no one would even notice.

Besides covering basic good grammar, Bernstein addresses the idiomatic words that are more difficult to classify and covers them with the same rigor as he does the traditional words.

Here are some of his best tips:

* accident vs. mishap: 'accident' is an undesigned occurrence. 'Mishap' is an unfortunate happening.
* amid vs. amidst--Americans prefer 'amid'; Brits prefer 'amidst'
* can vs. may: use 'can' for ability or power to do something, 'may' for permission to do it
* elder vs. older: 'older' compares old things whereas 'elder' compares people
* he has lots of slang-type of phrases--guild the lilly, likes of, pinch hitter (which he terms a 'weary cliche'), some of which have since 1963 become mainstream. American English is nothing if not adaptive.
* hanker takes the preposition 'after' or 'for'
* hara-kiri--the correct word for the more popular term, 'hari-kari' and not a correct substitute for the Japanese ritual suicide, seppuku
* how come: out of place in good writing and not legitimized because Shakespeare used the term 'how chance'
* incidental: takes preposition to or upon
* libel vs. slander: 'slander' is oral defamation while 'libel' is defamation by any other means
* like vs. as: Bernstein takes three pages--filled with humorous examples--to explain the use of these two words
* madam vs. madame: one is a married woman; the other the keeper of a bawdy house
* may vs. might: 'may' is present tense; 'might' is past tense--who knew that?
* mixaphor--when a writer mixes his metaphors. I love this.
* pupil vs. student: those who attend elementary schools are 'pupils'; those who attend higher institutions of learning are 'students' (again, who knew? In this case, probably more of a history lesson than followed)
* sensual vs. sensuous: 'sensual' applies to gratification of the animal sense with overtones of lewdness; 'sensuous' applies to enjoyment produced by appeal to the senses.
* though vs. although: mean the same with two exceptions: 1) only 'though' can be used in idioms like 'as though', and 2) only 'though' can be used adverbially in a final position

If you are in a position where you must--really must--be accurate in your grammatical decisions, there is no better authoritative source than Bernstein. Others may have an educated opinion, but Bernstein is the trump card.
22 comments|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 18, 2002
This is, indeed, a wonderful book, just as the other reviewers have said. People who are interested in language think most books on grammar and usage are entertaining even if they're really dry as dust. That's just how we are. This book, however, is much more entertaining than those that are really dry as dust.
The format of this book is easier on the eyes than many heavier tomes on usage. The pages have only a single, full column with bold heads and plenty of white space.
Bernstein has answers that can't be found elsewhere. Here's an example. Suppose you've written a paper you hope will be published in a scholarly journal. You submit the paper to your department head. He or she sends it to a peer reviewer. The reviewer writes that your ideas are "interesting, if not innovative." Based on that comment your department head refuses to submit the paper for publication. But did the reviewer mean your ideas were interesting BUT not innovative, or did he or she mean your ideas were NOT ONLY interesting BUT ALSO innovative? I checked five reference books searching for an answer. Only Bernstein came through. According to Bernstein, only tone of voice could distinguish between the two meanings, and so the construction "[this], if not [that]" should not be used in writing because of its ambiguity.
0Comment|17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 18, 2014
This book is a treasure and a classic. The author addresses a number of common errors in writing and does so with a delightfully acerbic tone. It's fun to read at random just for the author's tone and style. That certainly can't be said for the majority of reference works!

A few reviewers argue that it is out of date because it doesn't include the internet or changes in style over the past 50-plus years. Ridiculous! The author's intention was to select the most common, everyday errors in grammar and print. These mistakes are still being made today - just pick up most newspapers, magazines - and worst of all, most blogs. How many blogs have you read whose authors confuse there and their, for example? Two of my friends are professors at different colleges. Sadly, they tell me many of their student papers are at a lower baseline than the one from which the author of this book assumes the reader is starting!

English is a beautiful language. To express oneself well in English is a joy. This book was written by a man whose intended audience were those who cared about it too.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 6, 2014
While one of the most informative books you can find, this is actually equally readable. It contains more than 2,000 alphabetical entries resolving questions of grammar and usage. Although certainly suited to occasional reference, if you're like me you'll enjoy reading it as you would a continuous narrative. I made this recent purchase on Amazon after having and re-reading the book for many years (but forgetting to take it with me upon leaving a restaurant where it was my meal-time companion). I was delighted to find I could still buy it--a new copy at that.

You should be aware that a great many of the entries are exceedingly short and either not intended for reading or of marginal value. In the former category are the many cross references. Nearly as brief are the one-sentence entries pertaining to various verbs, "Takes the preposition [named preposition]." The longer entries range from a brief paragraph to several pages or more.

As much as I like this work, one major caveat is in order. The book you'll be buying, though new, is the same book as originally published in 1965. This should not be too much of a problem as long as you keep in mind that author Bernstein's rules are 50 years old, and while most are applicable today some are not. I recommend the book for people who are keenly aware of current usage and able to distinguish an outdated judgment.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 20, 2014
Theodore Bernstein was the editor of the NY Times many decades ago. The Careful Writer is one of several guides for English language usage he wrote back in the 1970's. Don't worry about the relative antiquity of this book; the basic rules of English still apply.
Who might benefit from Bernstein's work? Students, technical professionals, lawyers, teachers, professors--in short, anyone who writes.
Having spent several years as a technical editor, trying to translate the writing of engineers into readable English, I concluded that engineering schools don't spend much time on communication skills. I've since expanded that to include most professions and schools and colleges. People are daunted by the task of expressing their ideas in writing.
Mr. Bernstein helps greatly in this. Not only is this book going to help any writer/editor to trim down the non-essential verbosity and correct misused words, it will evoke the occasional chuckle.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.