An English grammar that you can’t stop reading: I, too, thought that an oxymoron until I picked up Dreyer’s English. Enchanting and nerdy, esteemed copy editor Dreyer’s interest in the nitty-gritty of language is buffeted with enough wit and history that even semi-colons shimmer with glamour. An indispensable resource, Dreyer’s English reminds us that words (and punctuation, and spelling) matter, and that wielding them well is both a cultural duty and an absolute joy. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
Want to know something interesting? The word "namesake" works two ways. That is, if you're named for an older relative, they are your namesake... and YOU are theirs. If you find this sort of information remotely interesting, you'll love Dreyer's English. This witty book is also a bit of a mystery, as I'm hard-pressed to explain how Benjamin Dreyer pulled off the trick of making a writer's guide such a joy to read. Over at the New Yorker, Katy Waldman was similarly challenged; she concluded that Dreyer's "attention to gusto in language use is magical in a way that resists full explication." So embrace the mystery — and read this book. It'll be fun, and doing so will make you a better writer! Recommended By Bart K., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A witty, informative guide to writing from Random House’s longtime copy chief and one of Twitter’s leading language gurus — in the tradition of The Elements of Style.
We all write, all the time: books, blogs, emails. Lots and lots of emails. And we all want to write better. Benjamin Dreyer is here to help.
As Random House’s copy chief, Dreyer has upheld the standards of the legendary publisher for more than two decades. He is beloved by authors and editors alike — not to mention his followers on social media — for deconstructing the English language with playful erudition. Now he distills everything he has learned from the myriad books he has copyedited and overseen into a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best prose foot forward.
As authoritative as it is amusing, Dreyer’s English offers lessons on punctuation, from the underloved semicolon to the enigmatic en dash; the rules and nonrules of grammar, including why it’s OK to begin a sentence with “And” or “But” and to confidently split an infinitive; and why it’s best to avoid the doldrums of the Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers, including “very,” “rather,” “of course,” and the dreaded “actually.” Dreyer will let you know whether “alright” is all right (sometimes) and even help you brush up on your spelling — though, as he notes, “The problem with mnemonic devices is that I can never remember them.”
And yes: “Only godless savages eschew the series comma.”
Chockful of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts, this book will prove to be invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills, mandatory for people who spend their time editing and shaping other people’s prose, and — perhaps best of all — an utter treat for anyone who simply revels in language.
“A mind-blower — sure to jumpstart any writing project, just by exposing you, the writer, to Dreyer’s astonishing level of sentence-awareness.” George Saunders
“It is Benjamin Dreyer’s intense love for the English language and his passion for the subject that make the experience of reading Dreyer’s English such a pleasure, almost regardless of the invaluable and practical purpose his book serves in such dark and confusing times for grammar and meaning.” Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon
“This work is that rare writing handbook that writers might actually want to read straight through, rather than simply consult.” Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
About the Author
Benjamin Dreyer is vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief of Random House. He began his publishing career as a freelance proofreader and copy editor, joining Random House as a production editor in 1993. He has copyedited books by authors including E. L. Doctorow, David Ebershoff, Frank Rich, and Elizabeth Strout. Recently he copyedited Let Me Tell You, a collection of previously unpublished and uncollected work by Shirley Jackson. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in New York City.