Skip to main content

The Writer's Digest Grammar Desk Reference

Be confident in your grammar with The Writer's Digest Grammar Desk Reference by Gary Lutz and Diane Steveson.
X3961_GrammarDesk.jpg

The Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference

by Gary Lutz and Diane Stevenson

Writer's Digest Books, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1-59963-220-9
ISBN-10: 1-59963-220-9

$19.99 paperback, 368 pages

Buy the Book!

Read an Excerpt!

Learn how to identify and properly use adjectives and avoid errors.

About the Book

The Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference is the comprehensive resource on grammar and usage, a necessity for every writer’s desk. It presents balanced instruction and real-world examples that will ensure professional and flawless work on every occasion.

There are some principles of usage I thought I’d never understand. This book has proven me wrong. Clear, illuminating, and comprehensive—this is a must-have resource for grammarians and laymen, alike.

—Fiona Maazel, author of Last Last Chance and former managing editor of The Paris Review

For those who believe the soul is at stake when utterance is at stake, there can be no more saving engagement than that which offers itself within. Huzzah for heroes Lutz and Stevenson! Medals at the ready, please.

—Gordon Lish, former editor of Esquire and Alfred A. Knopf and author of over a dozen books

Some people—not a few linguists and high-school English teachers among them—foolishly believe that grammar matters not at all. Let them read The Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference, which, with an explanation that is cogent, a treatment that is thorough, and examples that are telling, makes it plain that grammar matters mightily.

—Robert Hartwell Fiske, author of The Dictionary of Concise Writing: More Than 10,000 Alternatives to Wordy Phrases and eight other books and the editor and publisher of The Vocabula Review

The Grammar Desk Reference is an invaluable resource for the writer—or editor!—in any stage of his or her career. Lutz and Stevenson explain the rules clearly, concisely, and entertainingly, with examples from major newspapers and magazines. I’m keeping a copy on my desk.

—Dawn Raffel, Editor at Large, Books at Readers Digest and author of Further Adventures in the Restless Universe, Carrying the Body, and In the Year of Long Division

For a lot of people, using correct grammar is as fun and easy as doing their taxes. And previous grammar books are like the horribly printed guides that the federal government sends out in an attempt to alleviate stress and make the whole process simpler. In The Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference, Gary Lutz and Diane Stevenson revolutionize this foggy world by providing organized, fun, and simple examples we should all consult for years to come.

—Jeff Johnson, copywriter for Bartle Bogle Hegarty

About the Authors

Gary Lutz is the author of the short-story collections Stories in the Worst Way (published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf in 1996 and in paperback by 3rd bed in 2002) and I Looked Alive (published by Black Square Editions/Four Walls Eight Windows in 2004). His chapbook, Partial List of People to Bleach, was released by Future Tense Books in 2007. His work has appeared in several anthologies, including The Random House Treasury of Light Verse and The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories. He has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts.

Diane Stevenson is the editor of two collections of newspaper columns by best-selling novelist Carl Hiaasen, Kick Ass: Selected Columns of Carl Hiaasen and Paradise Screwed: Selected Columns of Carl Hiaasen. She has been the recipient of grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Florida Humanities Council. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at the University of Florida.

Table of Contents

Introduction

 Part I: Grammar: An Overview

 Chapter 1: Nouns and Verbs

 Chapter 2: Modifiers and Other Parts of Speech

 Chapter 3: Phrases

 Chapter 4: Clauses

Part II: Grammar: Rules, Conventions, and Errors to Avoid

 Chapter 5: Agreement of Subjects and Verbs

 Chapter 6: Other Errors in the Use of Verbs

 Chapter 7: Parallelism

 Chapter 8:Errors in Modification: Misplaced, Dangling, and Ambiguous Modifiers

 Chapter 9: Other Errors in Modification

 Chapter 10: Personal Pronouns

 Chapter 11: Agreement of Pronouns and Their Antecedents

 Chapter 12: Reference of Pronouns

 Chapter 13: Faulty Comparisons

 Chapter 14: Faulty Predication

 Chapter 15: Mishandled Elliptical Constructions

 Chapter 16: Two Special Problems with that

Part III: Punctuation: Rules, Conventions, and Errors to Avoid

 Chapter 17: Terminal Punctuation Marks

 Chapter 18: The Comma

 Chapter 19:The Semicolon and the Colon

 Chapter 20: Parentheses and Dashes

 Chapter 21: The Apostrophe

 Chapter 22: Quotation Marks and Italics

 Chapter 23: Specialized Punctuation Marks

 Chapter 24: The Hyphen

 Chapter 25:Punctuating Compound, Complex, and Compound-Complex Sentences


Part IV: Mechanics and Usage

 Chapter 26: Capitalization

 Chapter 27: The Presentation of Numbers

 Chapter 28: Abbreviations

 Chapter 29: Glossary of Commonly Misused Words

 Appendix: Subject Guide

Index

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jane Porter discusses celebrating the nature of getting older in her new romance novel, Flirting With Fifty.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 610

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a "different way of seeing the world" poem.

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

From in-person interviews to scouring the web for credible sources, journalist Alison Hill shares tips on how to research topics like a journalist.

Can I Have Your Attention?

Can I Have Your Attention?

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, an announcement is about to change the course of history.

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Emmy nominated comedy writer Glenn Boozan discusses how a funny piece of perspective turned into her new humor book, There Are Moms Way Worse Than You.

From Script

Adapting True Crime and True Stories for Television (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with writers and showrunners Robert Siegel and D.V. DeVincentis (“Pam & Tommy”), Patrick Macmanus and Liz Hannah (“The Girl from Plainville”) who both have taken creative liberties in adapting true stories for a limited series.

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Author Chanel Cleeton discusses how reader curiosity led her to write her new historical fiction novel, Our Last Days in Barcelona.

Writer's Digest Interview | Marlon James Quote

The Writer's Digest Interview: Marlon James

Booker Prize–winning author Marlon James talks about mythology and world-building in his character-driven epic Moon Witch, Spider King, the second book in his Dark Star Trilogy in this interview from the March/April 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: New Podcast Episode, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our newest podcast episode, your chance to be published, and more!