Help needed! I want to become a (better) grammar nazi

Posted: September 18, 2013 in General

My understanding of English grammar is, strangely enough, purely innate. I don’t remember learning a lot about the rules of grammar in school. Perhaps I had a great teacher at a young age, but I definitely know that once I hit middle school and high school, all the teachers assumed we knew everything we needed to know. They focused more on literature and writing instead of the rules of the language.

Considering I do a lot of writing and a lot of editing, my grammar muscles get flexed every day. For the most part I know what’s right and wrong, but I can’t always explain why. It just sounds right to me. That doesn’t always cut it, though, and lately I’ve been wondering how right I actually am on some of the corrections I make.

To make a fairly short story even shorter, I want a good grammar book. Maybe even two or three of them, eventually. But for now I want your suggestions, dear readers. What’s your favorite book on grammar? Are there any that you’ve heard of that come highly recommended? I’ve got my eye on a few, but I want to know what the general consensus is.

I don’t have many requirements other than it has to be easy to understand and to the point. It can be funny or completely dry. I just want a book I can use on a daily basis to look up rules in case I get stuck or want to know why my Spidey senses suddenly go all tingly when I read a sentence.

Any help is appreciated! *hands you a virtual cookie*

  1. every good grammar collection should begin with the standard bible – strunk & white’s the elements of style. it’s great refresher on the basics.

    • Karen Rought says:

      That’s the first one I looked at! I was worried it was a little outdated – not that grammar needs to be updated all that often (ever? I’m not sure) – so I wanted to throw it out there. Vote #1 for Strunk & White’s!

  2. Chris says:

    Have you tried contacting a college professor or English teacher? He or she may be able to help. I could probably use one myself, being a writer and editor as well!

    • Karen Rought says:

      I could! But I wanted to get my bloggy friends to chime in. I’ve seen a lot of lists over the last couple of years, but I don’t think I’d be able to track them down again. Shame.

  3. Julie Glover says:

    How did I miss this?!! Of course, I have suggestions. 🙂 Valerie is right that all should start with Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. There is also a companion book called The Elements of Grammar by Margaret Shertzer that I use at times. I have a subscription to the Chicago Manual of Style, which isn’t that much per year (maybe $40-ish?). Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss is a classic read for “Grammar Nazis” (although I prefer “Grammar Goddesses”). And following Grammar Girl’s posts is always worthwhile, since Mignon Fogarty (aka Grammar Girl) writes to the point and gives the reasons behind our grammar rules.

    Also, you know I’m always willing to chat grammar. Anytime you want! 🙂

    • Karen Rought says:

      I was waiting for you to chime in, Julie! I’d hoped you didn’t forget about this. 🙂

      Vote #2 for Strunk & White’s! I think I’ll have to start there, then branch out to add to my collection. From everything I’ve heard (from here and elsewhere), it’s sort of the standard, so I’ll definitely give it a try.

      Also, Grammar Girl is a GODDESS. She’s saved me countless times.

      Adding those other suggestions to my list as well. Thanks!

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