Patricia O’Conner has done it again: she has updated and revised her classic book on writing and English usage, Woe Is I. I can hardly tell you how much I love this book. Before you stop reading, let me tell you that you will laugh out loud on just about every page. OK, read on. O’Conner realizes how all languages change over time, which is why she revised this classic book to fit with current and accepted usage. This is the fourth edition and, as English changes, there will be a fifth and a sixth and a twentieth.
O’Conner writes in everyday English. Here are a few chapter titles:
PLURALS BEFORE SWINE Blunders with Numbers
YOURS TRULY The Possessive and the Possessed
COMMA SUTRA The Joy of Punctuation
DEATH SENTENCE Do Clichés Deserve to Die?
THE LIVING DEAD Let Bygone Rules Be Gone
Here’s an explanation about subject-verb agreement: “A substance was stuck to Sam’s shoe.” Or “A green, slimy, and foul-smelling substance was stuck to Sam’s shoe.” O’Conner adds, “The subject is substance and it stays singular no matter how many disgusting adjectives you pile on.”
See? Not your typical book about English and writing. This one is Wonderful. Entertaining. Fun. Comprehensible. Helpful. Essential.
O’Conner also has a blog to which she posts almost every day, giving explanations about questions people (including me) have submitted. If you subscribe, you’ll get it in your inbox. It’s definitely not spam: www.grammarphobia.com