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Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk

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Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk [Paperback]

Bill Walsh
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 18, 2013
These are interesting times for word nerds. We ate, shot and left, bonding over a joke about a panda and some rants about greengrocers who abuse apostrophes. We can go on Facebook and vow to judge people when they use poor grammar. The fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Elements of Style inspired sentimental reveries. Grammar Girl’s tally of Twitter followers is well into six digits. We can’t get enough of a parody of the Associated Press Stylebook, of all things, or a collection of "unnecessary" quotation marks.

Could you care less? Does bad grammar or usage "literally" make your head explode? Test your need for this new book with these sentences:

"Katrina misplaced many residents of New Orleans from their homes."

"Sherry finally graduated college this year."

"An armed gunman held up a convenience store on Broadway yesterday afternoon."

Pat yourself on the back if you found issues in every one of these sentences, but remember: There is a world out there beyond the stylebooks, beyond Strunk and White, beyond Lynne Truss and Failblogs. In his long-awaited follow-up to Lapsing Into a Comma and The Elephants of Style, while steering readers and writers on the proper road to correct usage, Walsh cautions against slavish adherence to rules, emphasizing that the correct choice often depends on the situation. He might disagree with the AP Stylebook or Merriam-Webster, but he always backs up his preferences with logic and humor.

Walsh argues with both sides in the language wars, the sticklers and the apologists, and even with himself, over the disputed territory and ultimately over whether all this is warfare or just a big misunderstanding. Part usage manual, part confessional, and part manifesto, Yes, I Could Care Less bounces from sadomasochism to weather geekery, from "Top Chef" to Monty Python, from the chile of New Mexico to the daiquiris of Las Vegas, with Walsh’s distinctive take on the way we write and talk. Yes, I Could Care Less is a lively and often personal look at one man’s continuing journey through the obstacle course that some refer to, far too simply, as "grammar."


Frequently Bought Together

Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk + The Elephants of Style : A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English + Lapsing Into a Comma : A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print--and How to Avoid Them
Price for all three: $34.23

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Yes, I Could Care Less:

"Reading Yes, I Could Care Less is like bellying up to your favorite neighborhood bar while a cranky yet lovable uncle holds forth on the perils of comma splices and misplaced hyphens. Walsh is combative and funny, and he doesn't suffer fools gladly In short, Walsh brings some welcome newsroom swagger and regular-guy moxie into the often prim world of style and syntax."--The Washington Post

"A frisky reminder that usage issues are part convention, part passion." —Kirkus Reviews

"You should be so lucky as to have Bill Walsh as your editor. Pay attention. Be clear. Be precise. Don't be a jerk."—Baltimore Sun

"If you dream about correcting the office grammar Nazi,  pick up Washington Post copyeditor Bill Walsh's witty book Yes, I Could Care Less."—The Washingtonian

"How can you not love a language maven who admits up front (well, in the Epilogue anyway) that he’s nuts? And who wouldn’t be? Bill Walsh has to walk a fine line. He’s enough of a pickypants to satisfy readers of The Washington Post, but he never crosses the line into jerkitude. Or hardly ever. (Give up the hyphen, Bill. The word is email.) Oh, and did I mention that’s he’s funny? Armed gunmen, he tells us, are ‘the worst kind.’ And you probably think you know what domestic beer is. But as the author can tell you, it’s in the eye of the bartender."—Patricia T. O’Conner, author of Woe Is I and, with Stewart Kellerman, Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language.

"In his third volume of musings and pronouncements on language, Bill Walsh argues persuasively that there’s room at the table for both prescriptivists and descriptivists—or what he calls ‘the sticklers’ and ‘the spoilsports.’ With keen intelligence, dry humor, and panache, he exhorts us not only to think more critically about how we write and speak but also to strive for ‘tiny acts of elegance’ in that ‘slippery and elusive’ realm called standard American English. Some will call Walsh a demigod of usage. Others will call him a demagogue. I call him, oxymoronically, our most amiable curmudgeon of style."— Charles Harrington Elster, author of The Accidents of Style and Verbal Advantage

Praise for Bill Walsh’s Books:

"What Walsh calls his ‘curmudgeon’s stylebook’ contains such useful items as differentiating names of peoples. . . . His ‘gray areas’ are stimulating."—William Safire, On Language, New York Times Magazine on The Elephants of Style

"More from Bill Walsh! I love it. He’s packed The Elephants of Style with his wisdom and expertise to help any writer look good."—Barbara Wallraff, former language columnist for The Atlantic Monthly

"A mother lode for language lovers."—American Journalism Review on Lapsing Into a Comma

"Bill Walsh is a stylist with a sense of humor, a rare commodity these days."—Frank Mankiewicz, former president, NPR, on Lapsing Into a Comma

About the Author

Bill Walsh is a copy editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked since 1997. He is a regular presenter at the annual conferences of the American Copy Editors Society. Walsh is the author of Lapsing Into a Comma and The Elephants of Style and blogs at

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (June 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250006635
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250006639
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a newspaper copy editor, at The Washington Post since 1997, and the author of "Lapsing Into a Comma," "The Elephants of Style" and "Yes, I Could Care Less."

You can find me at or on Twitter as @TheSlot.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
By Zeldock
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Yes, I Could Care Less" (YICCL) continues Bill Walsh's humorous, pleasantly grumpy discussion of usage, punctuation, and style ("style" in the copy editor's sense) that began with "Lapsing into a Comma" (2001) and was carried on in "The Elephants of Style" (2004). All three books are aimed mainly at copy editors, but they're enjoyable for anyone who's a usage-and-punctuation nut (or, to use Walsh's term, a "stickler").

To the extent that YICCL has a theme different from those of Walsh's earlier books, it's how language prescriptivists (i.e., sticklers) can have better relations with language descriptivists. This theme is most evident in the first seven chapters, after which Walsh wanders more freely among the usage issues that interest him. Never far beneath the surface is his general opposition to the editing-by-rote school and the monsters it can produce.

Since Walsh is not writing a conventional style guide or usage dictionary, he can be expansive and, when appropriate, indecisive. He gives many opposing opinions their due, which is one reason why he doesn't become tiresome. Another reason is that he's a master of the conversational style, particularly if you're someone of a certain age and educational background.

Needless to say, YICCL is not the book to buy if you're looking for something to help you learn when to write "its" and when to write "it's." There are plenty of books that do a much better job in that area (I would recommend Who's (oops whose) Grammar Book is This Anyway?). If you want to delve into a variety of usage hot spots, with a wise and experienced guide, this, along with Walsh's other two books, is what you want.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bill Walsh is a highly opinionated curmudgeon copy editor at the newspaper that Jeff Bezos just bought and where I spent most of my career. Someone once told me Walsh and I live in or near the same neighborhood. But I've never met the guy. I only know him through his books which, over the years, have become my favorite bathroom reading. No matter where I open one to, I always learn something, and usually in a most entertaining and logical way. I was glad to discover that Walsh's third word book and writing guide is now in print and every bit as good as its predecessors, "Lapsing Into a Comma" and "The Elephants of Style."

As is more than obvious from the reviews now showing on this page, Amazon customer reviewer opinions about Walsh and his word books run the gamut from 5 stars to 1. So what does that tell you, the potential buyer? Not much. But not to worry. Just go to Walsh's web site,, and browse around and if, before you know it, you find time has flown by, then you've got your answer: Buy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner September 29, 2013
Another fun look at all things language and copy editing from Bill Walsh, author of "Lapsing Into a Comma: A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print -- and How to Avoid Them " and "The Elephants of Style: A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English."

With his sharp wit and nonprofessorial point of view -- he's a language guru who admits he probably couldn't diagram a sentence if his life depended on it -- there's a reason Bill's the "most famous" copy editor in the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but with limited appeal, no doubt October 11, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have to be careful here, because otherwise I'll make an error that Walsh can pounce on!

I enjoyed the book, which is wittily written and has a few gems as funny as its subtitle. It probably has limited appeal, though, which Walsh himself would acknowledge. He's writing for copywriters, though anyone with an interest in English usage (whether from prescriptive or descriptive perspective) would find it interesting. I'm probably more in the prescriptivist camp, though like Walsh not a complete diehard. Naturally there are usages that he recommends that I disagree with—partly because we tend to use British, rather than American, English. There are times when he does prescribe, or says that a particular usage is to be preferred because it is elegant, yet doesn’t present a convincing reason why. But he does it with good humour, and so even when thinking “I wouldn’t do that!), he doesn’t (usually) offend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Grammarphiles June 7, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My daughter and I share a love of grammar and especially funny grammatical errors. I bought this for her birthday and she loved it!
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