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Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for…

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Quick & Dirty…

by Mignon Fogarty

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If you write for business or pleasure this is an excellent resource. It's not a style guide (there are already gazillions of those) but it does tackle 24 of the most common grammar 'issues' by offering easy tips and memory tricks to help you remember grammar rules. The author also produces a weekly podcast on the topic and offers an email mailing list with even more tips for better writing. ( )
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
First, I have to say that I love Mignon Fogarty, and I think she's a genius for marketing a "how-to-improve-your-writing" book with a title that includes the words "quick and dirty." People are looking for a quick fix (hence the "quick"), and any time you can convince people that they're getting away with something (the "dirty"), you are likely to attract readers. Forgarty focuses on grammar issues, but in the context of writing. Issues are addressed and explained one at a time, allowing the audience to select more pertinent and helpful chapters.

This is the one book I recommend to my high school seniors at the end of their illustrious career. I tell them everyone needs to know how to write well, and I then promote the book. They're usually sold when they hear "quick and dirty." I loaned my copy of the book to friends who are trying to get through a writing class or requirement. I do keep a copy in my classroom, but for students, I'm more likely to recommend the student edition of the text. This makes a great resource for budding and struggling writers. ( )
  amclellan0908 | Apr 29, 2012 |
My life would be less frustrating if everyone read this book.

I can be a little (annoyingly) pedantic when it comes to grammar and usage. I'm not concerned about dangling prepositions or split infinitives, but my god, it gets to me when people misuse "affect" and "effect," comma splice, or think that "e.g." and "i.e." are interchangeable. And don't even get me started on "your" and "you're."

Although I expected this to be kind of dry, I found myself laughing out loud. I thought I would know everything in it, but I learned quite a bit (like about misplaced modifiers). Did you know that a bad apostrophe (like "banana's for sale") is called the greengrocer's apostrophe? Have you heard the term "CamelCase" before?

Fogarty made it clear what the traditional rules were, what is currently acceptable even if it's not traditional, and what varies from style guide to style guide. There's even a little bit of linguistic history thrown in as a bonus.

I'm off to give this book to all of my coworkers. I hope that won't offend them. ( )
  Kara | Apr 2, 2012 |
If you're like me and have trouble figuring out where commas go and which words to use when, its really nice to have a book handy that can give you clear cut examples. And I've looked at lot of them...and frankly half of them put me to sleep. This one though is a quick, easy read and a handy reference tool to have around. Mignon puts things in easy to understand format and uses some creative/humorous examples to illustrate what to use when. Its now a permanent part of my collection and sitting in easy reach for when I have a question come up on the tricky topic of grammar (actually...I think I need a second copy just to keep at work.)
  zzshupinga | May 1, 2011 |
Interesting and great fun. This goes with Grammar Girl's podcasts about usage and the English language. ( )
  jpaulett | Jun 17, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805088318, Paperback)

Are you a fool for mnemonics? If so, you'll fall head over nubucks for Mignon Fogarty--a.k.a. the Grammar Girl--and her handy new audio guide to writing and speaking well. It’s chock-full of smart little anecdotes and memory tricks for felling the most common grammatical foes (who can ever remember the difference between "nauseous" and "nauseated" anyway?) and at just an hour long it's the perfect turn-to resource for students and professionals alike. I didn't try too hard to stump Grammar Girl in our Q&A, but with her eagle eyes she spotted my grammatical (typographical?) misstep without missing a beat! --Anne Bartholomew

Questions for the Grammar Girl

Amazon.com: Now that we communicate so often via e-mail and text messaging, do you think that people have become more desensitized to poor grammar, or in your experience is awareness more heightened as a result?

Grammar Girl: The average person seems to have become more desensitized to poor grammar, but language lovers seem to be tormented by the flood of mutilated e-mail and text messages—at least a lot of the people I hear from seem to be tormented. It might be a self-selecting group. To use one of my father's favorite phrases, language lovers seem to feel as though they are "being pecked to death by a duck."

Amazon.com: Your weekly podcast helps millions of listeners use good grammar and write more effectively. Do you think there is more value in learning by listening, as compared to reading and practical exercise?

Grammar Girl: Perhaps it's ironic, but I have a hard time learning by just listening. I need to read things, which is one of the reasons why I provide full transcripts for all my audio podcasts on the Grammar Girl Web site. People learn in different ways, so those who want to listen can listen, and those who want to read can read.

In my experience, nothing beats practical exercise. I often have to look up grammar rules over and over again because I can't remember them, but once I've written a show about a rule, I always remember it.

Amazon.com: Have the grammar mnemonics you've developed come easily to you? Which ones were the toughest to capture in an easy-to-remember tip?

Grammar Girl: Some mnemonics come easily and some don't. I had a hard time coming up with a way for people to remember the difference between "its" and "it's," and I ended up using a really complicated story about a dream I had involving the eBay "it" advertising campaign.

I think the best mnemonics are the simple ones. Remembering that you should say "different from" instead of "different than" because "different" has two f's and "from" starts with an f isn't awfully creative, but it's easy to remember.

Amazon.com: Is there a grammar rule that even Grammar Girl finds it hard to remember?

Grammar Girl: There are so many that it's hard to pick just one! I have a notoriously terrible memory, which is why I'm always making up mnemonics.

Often I find that when I can't remember something it's because it is a style issue instead of a hard-and-fast rule, so different people do it differently and there is no "right" answer. For example, I always have to look up the rules about whether the verb should be singular or plural after collective nouns like "team" and phrases like "the couple" and "one of the people who."

But when I look up the rule for collective nouns, I am reminded that the "rule" is that you have to just decide whether your collective noun has a sense of being a group or a sense of being many individuals. (And then there are also differences between British and American English.)

It's even worse with a phrase like "one of the people who": experts are split over whether the verb should be singular or plural. There really isn't an answer; you just have to pick a side. I have a hard time making a mnemonic for something like that!

Amazon.com: It used to be that proper grammar and thoughtful wording were the defining factors of a good piece of writing. Increasingly, however, writing is prized for the speed with which it is produced and not necessarily the craft. How can conscientious writers find the happy medium between form and efficiency?

Grammar Girl: What, didn't I answer your questions fast enough?

But seriously, I don't think I've come in contact with the people who value speed. As a Web editor, I certainly wasn't happy when people turned in bad writing, even if they turned it in early. And when I was writing magazine articles or corporate materials for a living I never felt rushed (except when I waited too long to get started).

The places where I do feel a sense of urgency are in e-mail and messaging; people seem to expect immediate responses. But writing a high-quality message doesn't take much more time than writing a careless message; it just takes more focus.

Amazon.com: Bonus question: I wrote all these questions with no more than a cursory grammar and spelling check. How did I do?

Grammar Girl: I found only one major error, and I changed the text to bold. It looked like a typo rather than an error in your understanding of the rules. Good job!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:33 -0400)

The founder of a popular weekly podcast shares comprehensive explanations for troublesome grammar rules in a resource complemented by memory tricks, word-choice guidelines, and e-mail tips.

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