Review: Grammar Done Right

Review: Grammar Done Right

1. a small, thin line of cloud/smoke/steam: 2. a thin, delicate piece of hair…

Long story short: Grammar Done Right! by Karen L. Reddick is a worthy addition to any writer’s reference shelf, despite a blemish or two. If you find it difficult to delve into grammar rules, you can always use the essay writing service.

Short story long: Size does matter

Grammar Done Right is a mere wisp compared to the hefty Chicago Manual of Style

Compare the two books in the image to the right. One, a mighty tome. The very bible of the publishing world. A grimoire of grammatical rules and formations. The other, a mere wisp of a book, cowering in the shadow of its gargantuan twin.

(You’re waiting for the David and Goliath metaphor, aren’t you? Well, I won’t give you the satisfaction.)

It has been said that the only thing wrong with the Chicago style is the Chicago Manual of Style. I agree. Imagine pulling that beast of a style guide down off your shelf, dragging it down to your desk, flipping through its abominable index, only to find the issue at hand has three different entries. Even then, the entries themselves are sometimes so permissive as to give no answer at all.

Not so simple

Not so with Grammar Done Right. Weighing in at just 80 pages, GDR is a condensed CMS, sparing no space for waffling. It is filled with phrases to warm the hearts of prescriptivists and the confused alike: Rules, DO NOT, etc. You’ve got questions, GDR has commands.

Grammar Done Right purports to be “a clear, commonsense approach to grammar and style.” While I’m not sure that any book that contains an entry on the en dash can be called commonsense, it is clear, accessible, and to the point. Compatible with Chicago style (not so with AP), it provides rules and examples for most situations writers might find themselves confused about, from numerals to hyphenation. Most entries start with a question (”Did you ever notice that … ?”) and all end with examples to illustrate the point.

Even a grammar book has mistakes

All is not perfect, however: I noticed a mistake on the entry for subjective case (a “was” where a “were” belongs) and Ms. Reddick apparently does not believe in sentence adverbs.

Still, I heartily recommend Grammar Done Right. As a reference, it is more useful than the CMS, and for those who aren’t required to keep a style guide on their desk, it’s a great resource to have around. And we'll talk about the important language rules covered in this book.

When to use Whom and when to use who?

Deciding when to use whom over who is an issue that’s been needlessly plaguing writers ever since MTV made people forget good grammar, or so I’m told.

Here’s the rule: Who is a subject; it does things. Whom is an object; things are done to it.

Who took the cookie from the cookie jar and gave it to whom?

When the pronoun in question appears to be both object and subject, use who.

Give it to those who asked for it.

In Conclusion

Here’s the truth: No one cares. Both Daily Writing Tips and John McIntyre say whom is on the way out, and I concur. If it’s immediately apparent that whom is the correct choice, go for it. Otherwise, slap a who in there and move on.

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