Customer Reviews: The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes
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on January 24, 2012
I'm a writer, editor, and writing teacher. I've never considered myself a grammarian, but I'm pretty good at recognizing what's correct and what's not. I currently teach a grammar course at a community college and have been looking for good grammar books. I bought this on Amazon for two reasons: low cost and high rating. I should have looked at the unusual number of single-star reviews. You get what you pay for. Even upon quick review, I found numerous errors and just plain bad advice. Here are a few examples:

In her section on colons, the author implies that there are only two occasions to use the colon: when lists follow independent clauses and when sentences are joined without a coordinating conjunction, as long as the second sentence "explains or illustrates the first sentence." This is bad advice! First, what follows a colon most certainly does not have to be a complete sentence: a phrase or clause will do. Yet she doesn't have a so-called "rule" for this very common use of the colon! Here's one example of a colon construction that she completely ignores:

He was greeted by a horrible sight: a dead dog on his doorstep.

Furthermore, she instructs the reader to "use a colon instead of a semicolon" when the the second sentence "explains or clarifies" the first, yet in her examples,a semicolon would be entirely acceptable, or even preferable! This is totally misleading and just plain bad advice.

Her Examples:
I enjoy reading: novels by Kurt Vonnegut are among my favorites.
Garlic is used in Italian cooking: it greatly enhances the flavor of pasta dishes.

In each case, the semicolon would be a perfectly good punctuation choice, yet she has instructed the reader not to use it! Her examples are simply not exemplary; they are not illustrative of ideal use. Instead, try this:

Of all the authors I admire, one stands out as my favorite: Kurt Vonnegut.
The key to Italian cooking is garlic: it greatly enhances the flavor of pasta dishes.

The point is that colons, when used correctly, create suspense and excitement in writing. There is a kind of pregnant pause after the colon in which the reader, with bated breath, awaits the answer. The fact that the writer is not aware of this is a dead giveaway of her lack of expertise.

In Rule 21, she writes, "Use either a comma or a semicolon before introductory words such as namely, that is, i.e., for example .... when they are followed by a series of items." This is not correct! She just made this up! She cites the following examples as being correct:

You may be required to bring many items, e.g., sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.
You may be required to bring many items; e.g., sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.

I have never come across a single grammar or style book that allows a semicolon to be used to join an independent clause with a simple list. When it is used in conjunction with a list, its sole purpose is to separate items with internal punctuation. This is just bizarre.

Because it has been so difficult to find a good, inexpensive grammar textbook, I felt I had write this review for everyone else like me who's out there.
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on September 14, 2009
I bought this hoping for a grammar reference that was as comprehensive as The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. I was very disappointed. It is 75 pages of rules (many erroneous based on the other reviews, which I wish I'd read prior to purchasing) followed by 78 pages of quizzes and answers. There is no index. The lack of an index makes it particularly ineffective as a reference.
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on November 24, 2011
Other reviewers have given examples, so I don't need to repeat that process. I just want to observe that is a book written by a "life coach" (one of those pseudo-professions, like being a feng shui "expert", a "psychic" or an aroma "therapist") and a blogger (like, well, almost everyone over the age of 12 these days). She is not a best-selling author, a professional editor, an English language professor, or any other sort of well-qualified person to write a book on English grammar. Anyone can write a book about anything, and (with luck, contact-networking and perseverance) get it published, but that doesn't mean it will be worth reading. On a technical topic like linguistics, failure to have both an applicable edu-professional background and the experience in the field to be authoritative is generally a shortcut to disaster. I'm not even a Fowlerian traditionalist when it comes to grammar - I applaud efforts by the Chicago editors, Burchfield (Oxford), and others to be more descriptive and modern, and less prescriptive and stodgy, in updated editions of their popular style guides - but some of what Straus advises is simply nonsense. This book and the associated website betray a deep-seated absorption of lazy habits (e.g., pretending that commas don't serve a purpose) from high-speed, low-thought writing on the Internet and in text messaging. While online communication has, for around twenty-two years of actual public impact, had an influence on modern grammar, it is a rash mistake to import expedient practices from the register of informal e-chat into the more formal context of planned writing. This even applies to blogging; writing an essay is still writing an essay, regardless of whether your fingers are pushing electrons through circuits or ink onto paper.
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on March 10, 2009
My ex-husband bought this book for our son without checking the reviews. One day, I needed to look something up and I borrowed it from my son's room. Boy, was I astonished! That's why I had to check what other people thought about it. The book is not only full of mistakes, but contains also many inaccuracies as well as false, made-up rules. Someone who knowingly leads young (and not-so-young) people's minds in the wrong direction should get jail time. It is just plain wrong to do that to kids.

It is already hard enough to teach them something, but when you plant something in their minds, it is also very hard to go back and remove (or correct) it. So, for a book that calls itself the "blue book" of grammar, it is completely inadmissible to erect such grammatical fallacies as truths, and spoil the mind of young adults. This author knows nothing about grammar, and the book should be recalled. Everyone who bought it should get a refund of their money.
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on March 29, 2014
There is an 11th edition for the same price! Ugh, come on. I just bought this 10th edition, only to have a recommendation for the 11th edition pop up after the purchase. To the authors - please have your 10th edition book priced lower than your 11th edition and please mark the 10th edition's page with a note letting shoppers know that there is an 11th edition now. Thank you.
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on May 18, 2011
Half an hour ago, I had never heard of this book. I was in the middle of revising yet another paper for a peer-reviewed journal. A question about usage of the colon let me to the web site for the book, and eventually to these reviews in Amazon. The "rules" for colon usage seemed highly questionable, if not just downright wrong, so I looked further. It was obvious that this book deserved about 20 minutes of my time to warn potential buyers.

This book is bad news, very bad news. Just a cursory review of the web site reveals a complete misunderstanding of grammar, punctuation, and usage. (And for your other picky reviewers, I do attempt to use (editors permitting) the Oxford comma.) Just one example, in a long list of problems, from the website:

Who versus Whom?
Rule. Use the he/him method to decide which word is correct. he = who, him = whom
Examples: Who/Whom wrote the letter? He wrote the letter. Therefore, who is correct.
For who/whom should I vote? Should I vote for him? Therefore, whom is correct.

Is this a joke? Engrams are a notoriously unreliable way to guide grammar. What if a foreign user has no engram for he/him usage. What if a native user has incorrect engrams for he/him usage. Although this may work to some extent, how about a little discussion about subjects, objects, objects of prepositions, or perhaps cases. And all the "rules" are like this. They are misleading, incorrect, cursory, and unexplained.

The other glowing reviews are baffling. They must be either planted reviews, or the authors know nothing of English.

Update 6 July 2012:

What happened to the previous most helpful review? It had HUNDREDS of helpful votes. It described in minute detail many of the objective problems with the book, and the comments were valuable. Too bad it is gone.
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on July 2, 2014
This is a great book for my ESL tutee who will be entering middle school. He has difficulty with tenses and requires help with punctuation. I will give this book to him as summer homework and to write a composition on what he has learned.

I like the format of the book with exercises and the efficient manner in which to construct sentences. This is a very helpful book.

Suggestion: purchase this book as a reminder to young writers in middle/high school to enhance their thinking/writing skills.
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on July 14, 2015
I needed help with grammar and this book is is affordable and easy to follow. The author also has a great website if you wish to be quizzed and that's affordable as well. I especially like that it is large allowing the reader space to think while moving through the text.
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on February 5, 2014
This is a very thin paperback book padded heavily by pages of homonyms (seed and cede, etc) and "tests". Useful if learning English, not useful if you have a sixth-grade education.
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on April 22, 2014
As an English teacher, I have a huge collection of grammar books. I can never seem to have enough. I had high hopes for this one; however, it just isn't comprehensive enough. I often look in it for ideas, but I constantly feel as if it is lacking. It is ok, but it is certainly not one of my favorites.
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