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A revised and updated edition of the iconic grammar guide for the 21st century.
In this expanded and updated edition of Woe Is I, former editor at The New York Times Book Review Patricia T. O'Conner unties the knottiest grammar tangles with the same insight and humor that have charmed and enlightened readers of previous editions for years. With fresh insights into the rights, wrongs, and maybes of English grammar and usage, O'Conner offers in Woe Is I down-to-earth explanations and plain-English solutions to the language mysteries that bedevil all of us.
"Books about English grammar and usage are... never content with the status quo," O'Conner writes. "That's because English is not a stay-put language. It's always changing--expanding here, shrinking there, trying on new things, casting off old ones... Time doesn't stand still and neither does language."
In this fourth edition, O'Conner explains how the usage of an array of words has evolved. For example, the once-shunned "they," "them," and "their" for an unknown somebody is now acceptable. And the battle between "who" and "whom" has just about been won, O'Conner says (hint: It wasn't by "whom"). Then there's the use of "taller than me" in simple comparisons, instead of the ramrod-stiff "taller than I." "May" and "might," "use to" and "used to," abbreviations that use periods and those that don't, and the evolving definition of "unique" are all explained here by O'Conner. The result is an engaging, up-to-date and jargon-free guide to every reader's questions about grammar, style, and usage for the 21st century.
The second edition of O'Connor's delightful guide to good English offers a new chapter on e-mail etiquette that ought to make many people--even grammar snobs--feel a tad guilty:"E-mail," she writes,"is no excuse for lousy English." Let your audience determine your attention to tone and mechanics; use salutations and signatures; resist the urge to indiscriminately forward mail; and leave those emoticons and abbreviations at home, she says. Commonsense stuff--but every once in a while, it's nice to be reminded. The rest of the volume is similar to the first: witty, economical and fun to read, it explains the secrets to grammar in refreshingly jargon-free sentences illustrated by numerous examples ("'I assure you,' said the grieving widow, 'I ensured he was insured to the hilt'"). When is"majority" plural, and when singular? How does saying"Trixie loves spaghetti more than I?" mean something completely different than"Trixie loves spaghetti more than me?" While the volume is certainly handy to someone struggling with grammar basics--there are few style guides so breezy--the"Verbal Abuse" section will appeal to language experts and purists, especially those who decry the use of partner as a verb, or grow with a direct object (as in"grow the business"). As for those who like to use dialogue as a verb,"Don't talk to them," O'Connor says.