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Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English, 3rd Edition Hardcover – September 17, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
What's more, the sample sentences in the book are almost worth the price by themselves. "A gradual crescendo in the percussion section reached a climax that woke the audience." "When he's not fighting crime, Bruce dresses like a normal adult."
These days, as our entire nation has forgotten the use of the apostrophe, everyone could use at least one grammar book on their shelves, and I can't think of a clearer and friendlier one than this.
The chapters are as follows:
Therapy for Pronoun Anxiety
Blunders with Numbers
The Possessives and the Possessed
Putting Verbs in Their Place
Words on the Endangered List
How to Be Letter Perfect
Talking Points on Pronunciation
The Joy of Punctuation
The Complete Dangler - A Fish out of Water
Do Cliches Deserve to Die?
Let Bygone Rules Be Gone
How to Write What You Mean
The author uses a lot of examples to show how to properly remedy the issues that are addressed in the book, and the examples are good illustrations of the issue. It makes a good reference to review common grammar issues. It would also make a great guide for anyone who wants to learn to be more gramatically correct.
Many of my students have learned English as a second language through a series of truly awful workbooks that quite clearly were not compiled by people who know anything about how our language really works. They spend weeks on punctuation whereas Patrica O'Conner makes it all so much easier and clearer. And more fun. Come on, what's better than a chapter titled "Comma Sutra"? My students gave me a Comma Sutra tee-shirt a few semesters ago.
It is also so much fun to read. O'Conner deals with all the stupid things that grammar books and many instructors drill into students. She begins sentences with "and." Wow! And "but." Oh no! How shameful.
She is a retired editor at The New York Times and quite clearly knows a lot more about how our language works than people who churn out these overburdensome grammar books.
From everything I read about the author's wit and wisdom, I was hoping to like her book very much and to find it extremely useful as well. In the latter regard, I have been disappointed. Much of what she covers is very basic, not the finer points I was expecting.
Even in explaining her whimsical title, she suggests that some might argue that "Woe is I" or even "Woe is unto me" is more technically correct than Shakespeare's original line of "Woe is me." That's pointing the finger at the pronoun when the real culprit is the verb. If you flip the statement around, it becomes "I is woe" or "Me is woe." The real sense is "I AM woe," meaning that I am so full of woe -- i.e., "woeful" -- that I am woe itself.
She says in the introduction that she has recommendations in her bibliography for a reputable dictionary. She doesn't. She has a list devoid of comment or advice, naming titles that compete against each other. It would be nice to know what she thinks is the most authoritative of the lot.
On page 4 she has "a little memory aid" to help determine when to use "that" or "which." It is thoroughly baffling. Presented as a rhyme, it goes like this: "Commas, WHICH cut out the fat,// Go with WHICH, never with THAT." Well, the truth is that commas, which resemble the bottom half of a semi-colon, ADD to the fat and almost never cut it out, as in the previous clause in this sentence. It's the parenthetical expression -- "which cut out the fat" -- that makes nonsense of the whole little ditty.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As an international student studying in the States, this book is really helpful in teaching me "correct" grammar and vocabulary. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bramkurnia
Like her book "Words Fail Me," this book by Patricia T. O'Conner is excellent. I recommend it for all who both teach and are learning grammar and style in writing. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Vaughn
This book is a really great resource for any writer, teacher, or someone who is constantly working with words and grammar.Published 2 months ago by Michael S
It doesn't take much effort to give this little book a big five star rating. It's simply a great little book for all of those who wish to improve their skills in grammar. Read morePublished 2 months ago by George
Our best writer on our common rhetoric, in the intro of a series of her wonderfully smart books.Published 2 months ago by krt66
Very thorough on pointing out the easiest grammatical errors most of the English writers would makePublished 3 months ago by Kun Xie