Grammatically Correct, 2nd Edition

The essential guide to spelling, style, usage, grammar, and punctuation.  
Author:
Publish date:


Grammatically Correct, 2nd Edition
The Essential Guide to Spelling, Style, Usage, Grammar, and Punctuation
by Anne Stilman
Writer's Digest Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-58297-6167
$19.99, paperback, 352 pages

Buy the Book


Read an Excerpt
In this excerpt from Grammatically Correct, author/grammar expert Anne Stiman discusses correct usage for that ever troublesome punctuation mark: the semicolon.

Image placeholder title

About the Book

WHETHER IT’S A NOVEL, A REPORT, AN ESSAY, A MEMO…

How does good writing stand out? If its purpose is to convey facts, findings, or instructions, it need be read only once for its content to be clear. If its purpose is to entertain or to provoke thought, it makes readers want to come back for more.

Expanded and updated, this guide covers four essential aspects of good writing:

Individual words—spelling variations, hyphenation, frequently confused homonyms, frequently misused words and phrases, irregular plurals and negatives, and uses of capitalization and type style to add special meanings

Punctuation—the role of each mark in achieving clarity and affecting tone, and demonstration of how misuses can lead to ambiguity

Syntax and structure—agreement of subject and verb, parallel construction, modifiers, tenses, pronouns, active versus passive voice, and more

Style—advice on the less hard-and-fast areas of clarity and tone, including conciseness, simplification, reading level, jargon, and subtlety

Filled with self-test exercises and whimsical literary quotations, Grammatically Correct steers clear of academic stuffiness, focusing instead on practical strategies and intuitive explanations. Discussions are designed to get to the heart of a concept and provide a sufficient sense of when and how to use it, along with examples that show what ambiguities or misinterpretations might result if the rules are not followed. In cases where there is more than one acceptable way to do something, the approach is not to prescribe one over another but simply to describe the options.

Readers of this indispensable guide will never break the rules of language again—unintentionally.

Table of Contents
Preface


Part 1: The Building Blocks: Word by Word

Spelling Issues

Frequently Misspelled Words
Spelling Variations
Frequently Confused Homonyms
Hyphenation

Vocabulary Quirks and Challenges

Frequently Misused Words
Plural Formations
Negative Formations

Using Type Style for Effect

Uses of Capitalization
Uses of Italic Type
Uses of Boldface Type


Part 2: Punctuation

Basic Sentence Structure

Subject and Predicate

Independent and Dependent Clauses

Phrases
Sentence Fragments

Comma

Separating the Main Elements of a Sentence
Separating Elements in a Series

Setting Off Dialogue and Quotations
Indicating Omitted Words

Other Uses of the Comma

Semicolon

Separating Elements
Linking Elements
Style Conventions

Colon

Introducing What Follows
Adding Emphasis
Other Uses of the Colon
Colon or Semicolon?
Style Conventions

Period

Ending a Sentence
Indicating Abbreviations
Other Uses of the Period

Question Mark

Indicating Queries
Indicating Rhetorical Questions
Indicating Requests
Indicating Uncertainty
Style Conventions

Exclamation Point

Indicating Importance or Emotion
Indicating Rhetorical Questions
Capturing Attention
Cautions About the Exclamation Point
Style Conventions

Hyphen

Indicating Word Breaks
Linking the Parts of a Compound Adjective
Acting As a Stand-In for a Repeated Word
Indicating Intonations or Pronunciations

Slash

Indicating “And” or “Or” Relationships
Indicating Other Relationships
Separating Lines of Poetry

Parentheses

Working in Digressions
Making Complex Text Easier to Follow
Setting Off Details
Style Conventions

En Dash

Linking Ranges
Linking Words
Style Conventions

Em Dash

Marking Off An Important Point Or A Digression
Marking A Break In Structure Or Turn In Content
Indicating Interrupted Or Scattered Speech
Style Conventions

2-Em and 3-Em Dashes

2-Em Dash
3-Em Dash

Style Conventions

Brackets

Identifying Changes to Quoted Material
Enclosing Digressions Within Parentheses
Other Uses of Brackets
Style Conventions

Quotation Marks

Setting Off Dialogue
Setting Off Citations
Indicating Significance
Setting Off Titles
Style Conventions

Ellipsis

Indicating Omissions
Indicating Hesitant or Trailing Speech
Imparting Significance
Style Conventions

Apostrophe

Indicating Omissions
Indicating Possessives
Indicating Plurals

Part 3: Structure and Syntax

Agreement Between Subject and Verb

The Subject, the Whole Subject, and Nothing But the Subject
Forest or Trees?

Parallel Structure

Positioning of Modifiers

Dangling Modifiers
Misplaced Modifiers
Squinting Modifiers

Tense and Mood

Present Tenses
Past Tenses
Future Tenses
Conditionals

Pronouns

Determining the Right Pronoun
Referring to the Right Antecedent
Agreement Between Pronoun and Antecedent
Choosing a Pronoun

Active Versus Passive Voice

Uses of the Active Voice
Uses of the Passive Voice

Grammar Grab-bag: Miscellaneous Problem Areas

Adverb-Adjective Distinction
Intransitive and Transitive Verbs
Splitting Infinitives
Ending with a Preposition

Part 4: Style
Clarity

Sentence Breaks
Sentence Order
Conciseness
Simplification
Reading Level

Tone

Sentence Length
Word Choices
Word Variation
Effective Repetition
Avoidance of Bias
Accents and Speech Patterns
Jargon
Clichés
When Less is More: The Art of Subtlety

Suggestions for Self-Improvement

Credits
Index

Moral Compass

Moral Compass

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write about someone with an unfailing moral compass.

Daniel Levin Becker: On the Forgotten Art of Letter Writing

Daniel Levin Becker: On the Forgotten Art of Letter Writing

Author, translator, and editor Daniel Levin Becker discusses his hopes for future letter writing like those featured in the new anthology, Dear McSweeney's: Two Decades of Letters to the Editor from Writers, Readers, and the Occasional Bewildered Consumer.

e.g. vs. i.e. (Grammar Rules)

e.g. vs. i.e. (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between e.g. and i.e. with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprise in the Writing Process

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprises in the Writing Process

Experienced writers know to expect the unexpected. Here are surprises in the writing process from 20 authors, including Amanda Jayatissa, Paul Neilan, Kristin Hannah, and Robert Jones, Jr.

Ruth Hogan: On Infusing Personal Interests in Fiction

Ruth Hogan: On Infusing Personal Interests in Fiction

Author Ruth Hogan discusses the process of learning a new skill in writing her new novel, The Moon, The Stars and Madame Burova.

Do You Find an Editor or Agent First?

Do You Find an Editor or Agent First?

It's a common question asked by writers looking to get their first book published: Do you find an editor or agent first? The answer depends on each writer's situation.

writer's digest wd presents

WDU Presents: 7 New WDU Courses, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new WDU courses, a chance at publication, and more!

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

Editor is a very broad term in the publishing industry that can mean a variety of things. Tiffany Yates Martin reveals what a professional editor is and why writers should consider using one.

From Script

How to Find the Right Reader for Feedback, Writing Female Characters and Tapping into Emotionally Authentic Characters (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script Magazine, read film reviews from Tom Stemple, part three of writing female characters, interviews with Free Guy scribes Zak Penn and Matt Lieberman, The Eyes of Tammy Faye screenwriter Abe Sylvia, and more!