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Common Errors in English Usage

4.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1887902892
ISBN-10: 1887902899
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I don't know how, but somehow, he knows exactly what we need." -- Peggy Duncan, Productivity Trainer and author, Put Time Management to Work

"More than mere common errors, Brians' compilation includes some cleverly deceptive mistakes as well." -- Scott Lewis, Managing Editor, Kyiv Post, "Ukraine's English-Language Newspaper"

"Paul Brians has written a handy and likable reference tool. He sends you off chuckling." -- Jack Miles, former literary editor, Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Paul Brians is a professor of English at Washington State University. His web site, "Common Errors in English Usage" has been recommended by BBC Online, Yahoo! Internet Life magazine, USA Today, "refdesk.com," the Seattle Times, and many other periodicals and publications.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William James & Company (March 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887902899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887902892
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #589,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rebecca of Amazon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 22, 2006
Should that be "Practise" or did I use the right spelling?

In the United Kingdom, "practice" is the noun, "practise" the verb; but in the U.S. the spelling "practice" is commonly used for both, though the distinction is sometimes observed. ~ pg. 161

The entries in Paul Brians' "Common Errors in English Usage" are organized alphabetically and provide hours of amusement for anyone who loves language. This book brought back memories of childhood, in those moments where the use of "borrowed" and "lend" were taught at school. Then there is the every present annoyance of "its/it's." Who has not made a mistake while spelling lightening and lightning?

Humor abounds as in the picture of man and bear with the caption: "For a moment he was confused - was he being attacked by a bear presently or currently?"

Some of the most intriguing entries include:

envious/jealous
Mauve
immaculate conception/virgin birth
disburse/disperse
jealous/envious
hysterical/hilarious
who/whom
that/which

You can be jealous of your boyfriend's attraction to other women, but you're envious of your boyfriend's CD collection. ~ pg. 74

This book discusses redundancies, like "DVD disk," but doesn't discuss the difference between CDs and CD's. One is of course possessive while the other is plural.

If I said chai tea, would that be a redundancy? Actually, redundancy also means being unemployed. I still like saying chai tea, but this book says it is pointless and it is also called masala chai. As this tea grows every more popular, I'm sure the way we ask for tea will correct itself.

Why would anyone use sacred instead of scared? This book also deals with common typos.
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Common Errors In English Usage puts the wisdom of author and English professor Paul Brians' web site, "Common Errors in English," into print. Offering essential information concerning commonly misused words and phrases, from a scholar whose web site has been endorsed by BBC Online, Life magazine, USA Today, Yahoo! Internet (among others), Common Errors In English Usage is a practical, sensible, and very highly recommended "reader friendly" educational resource and reference for anyone seeking to improve their personal command of the fine nuances of the English language.
1 Comment 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This is a great book to flip through while waiting for the bus, the doctor, etc. Because humor and anecdotes are used, the explanations are more likely to be remembered than if one used a dry style manual. Well done!
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More than mere common errors, Brians' compilation explains some cleverly deceptive mistakes as well. His analysis is clear and - I admit - entertaining reading for a lover of words.
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I don't think I'm the worst user of the English language but I do make my share of errors. This book is clear, easy to read and well organized. It has helped me many times and will continue to do so in the future. Of course, it is also rewarding to look up a word or grammatical usage and find that you were right! This book should be on the desk of everyone who cares about how they come across to others when writing and should be required reading for all Junior and Senior High School students.
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I refer to this book frequently in my line of work; editing academic papers where English is the 2nd language of the writers. When I have a quandary, I almost invariably find my answer here. And if that weren't enough, I will invariably find the experience of reading this or that entry to be a great pleasure, so humorously , professionally, and (or course) insightfully is it written. This book can sit comfortably next to any other on your shelf where you keep your canon of grammar and style.
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This book hits a sweet spot for me. Paul Brians uses a common sense approach in discussing how we use and misuse our language. His approach is not fussy or full of rules. Instead, he uses humor and a light touch to help the reader develop a sense for what is proper and logical. He also helps us learn where we commonly fall into traps by mishearing and misusing words through regionalisms or simply similar sounding words.

The book is arranged alphabetically so the reader can dip into something of particular interest. However, it is also fun to read from front to back. I encourage a read through and then repeatedly returning to it for looking at a few of the entries and thinking about them in order to put them into the mind more permanently.

I can't imagine anyone reading this book and not being entertained, finding some things to improve in his or her own usage, and realizing that this book can make a fabulous gift. The publisher offers quantity discounts, but the unit discount through Amazon is larger. So, think of all the young people and not so young people you know and do them a favor and give them a copy of this book. They will thank you for the fun read. And we will all benefit as common usage improves, even if just a tiny bit. In the end, it is direction that is more important that distance.

Can you tell that I am wildly enthusiastic about this book? Good. The author also has a website on this topic you can find by searching the web on the author's name.

Read, enjoy, share.
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