Top critical review
356 people found this helpful
Written by an amateur
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.
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.
COMMAS AND SEMICOLONS
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.