The Penguin Dictionary of American English Usage and Style

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9780142000465: The Penguin Dictionary of American English Usage and Style

The Penguin Dictionary of American English Usage and Style covers a wide range of topics from grammar and punctuation to style and word choice. Drawing on more than 2,000 real-life examples of questionable usage, it features topics found in no comparable reference work, such as clear examples and definitions in all word entries and explanations of misunderstood and misused words and clichés. This authoritative and highly readable guide provides exceptionally clear answers in plain language to the most complicated questions about English. It will be welcomed by anyone who cares about the way words are used.

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Review:

As a practical guide to correct grammar and word choice, The Penguin Dictionary of American English Usage and Style makes an excellent addition to the reference shelf of any high school or college student, and those who write professionally will get plenty of use out of it as well. Words are arranged alphabetically, and thorough cross-referencing makes it fairly easy to track down specific answers, from the plural of "rhinoceros" to when "due to" is an acceptable phrase.

Each entry gives examples of correct and incorrect usage, and usually includes a short explanation of the rule. When the rule is vague or misleading, author Paul Lovinger uses humor and a friendly attitude in explaining the mysteries of American English, and his examples of improper style are likely to make a lasting impression. The food writer who dared to describe a bland eggplant as "sultry" is gently mocked (what is "feverishly passionate" about a vegetable?), and the copy editor who is found "trying to be clever and not succeeding" may think twice before attempting another terrible pun. Large groups, such as "plurals," "verbs," "punctuation," and "numbers," have multiple pages devoted to them, and are broken down into simple groupings that newer students of grammar will have little trouble deciphering. Definitions of individual words are straightforward, and after a little study, you'll have those tricky choices like "nauseous/nauseated" and "farther/further" mastered. If you think you're past these little mistakes, remember that every example of poor usage cited by Lovinger comes from a professional--even experts can use a refresher course sometimes. --Jill Lightner

About the Author:

Paul W. Lovinger is a freelance journalist. He was formerly a reporter and staff writer for the Honolulu Star Bulletin and a columnist for the San Francisco Progress.

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