When a baby just learns a language, he talks by putting words one after the other without thinking about style, usage, expression, or grammar. Sometimes, the novice writer does the same thing, too.
Yet, good writing and a good command of the English language deserves much better than that. The good news is this can be learned from books such as The Handbook of Good English .
True, many texts on the subject have made it to print after Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, but most books on the market satisfy a writer's needs only partially; others are too heavy or too thick to keep on the desk or to carry around in an overnight bag. Some offer complicated answers, and others do not keep up with the changes in usage and language.
First published as The Washington Square Press Handbook of Good English, The Handbook of Good English offers everything other books do, as well as keeping up with the changes in usage and expression. Hailed as the copy editor's right hand, it gives clear answers with examples to the trickiest problems.
The book is divided into four major parts:
How to Style Written English: Miscellaneous Mechanics
Beyond the Sentence: Diction and Composition.
At the end, it offers a 131 page Glossary/Index for quick reference of the material in the above sections.
The book is highly informative, practical, easily readable and understandable, and quite comprehensive. The author covers all potential combinations and problems in grammar and usage. Even though allowing exceptions to archaic rules and being much more tolerant than uptight grammarians, the author points out to good solid rules. In addition to these rules, he shows the way to a more expressive style and persuasive form of writing.
The author must have gained an in-depth understanding of the problems of a struggling writer or a copy editor. In the beginning of the 'Grammar' section, he explains why he added the glossary/index. "It is often difficult for those who do not know the name of the error they may be committing to find the discussion of that error in a reference book. I have done my best to reduce this difficulty by careful listings in the Glossary/Index, but the reader may have to do some skimming of the rules and their discussions. To help the skimming eye, I have subdivided the longer discussions, and when possible I have begun paragraphs with examples of specific constructions that may match the reader's problem."
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