Dreyer's English

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

I saw the interview with the author on MSNBC and got curious about the book. I could not put it down. Language as we know is so inefficiently used that we don't even realize it. I enjoyed every bit of this book and would like to read any future books by this author
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Because I am familiar with Benjamin Dreyer's bent for sarcasm, I went into this read expecting exactly that in his writing. I was not disappointed. Mr. Dreyer brought the snark as well as the information.  As someone with The Elements of Style well used and conveniently located on the shelf, I think Dreyer's English fills the void that occurred since publication.  I think this is a strong reference piece, and who doesn't like a bit of fun in their reference books.  
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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The author managed to make a book about grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. entertaining. 

Reading it as an ebook separated the footnotes from the text and that was not helpful. Having said that, in my opinion, this is the type of book to own in hardcover. And for someone who is or wishes to be a writer, this book would be a useful companion.

For me, quite a bit of it in the second half was superfluous. Proper names for plays, products, etc. 

Having read this book, I wonder how any of us manages to communicate in English.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Benjamin Dreyer for allowing me to read and review Dreyer's English. This book is delightful and educational, a terrific mix!
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The first style guide written with wit! Dreyer's English is an engaging, delightful book about writing, copy editing and the tips and tricks Dreyer has learned in his career at Random House. This is perfect for all lovers of grammar, language, or anyone looking for an approachable peek into style.
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This book was a treat. Educational and humorous, engrossing and worthwhile. This is sure to be my companion in my writing journey.

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for the advanced reader copy.
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Dreyer's English was everything I expected from the reviews and more. It was educational, interesting, and funny--unlike the case with most grammar and style books. 

Not at all fond of "grammar jargon," Dreyer makes the case that reading is the best way to learn grammar, syntax, and usage. Not that he is discarding all rules; he is steadfast in his belief in many of them, but he is also aware of the importance of an author's individual style and the way the language is changing. Dreyer's wry, witty approach to clarity and style finds him sometimes reversing himself with no apology. 

He upholds my own thoughts about the Oxford--or series--comma ("Only godless savages eschew the use of the series comma"), the use of fragments, the occasional comma splice or split infinitive, and the awkwardness of attempting to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition. He includes the quote attributed to Winston Churchill: "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put." 

And (yes, you can begin a sentence with "and") the footnotes are often even better than the text. 

I believe I may need a physical copy of this one. As both a reference and a pleasure. (fragment noted)

NetGalley/Random House
Grammar/Style. 2019. Print length: 291 pages.
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Dreyer's English is a wonderful book for anyone who writes. It is filled with fun facts and is a useful companion for every writer. I highly recommend this book. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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A style guide that’s as readable as a novel?  Well, as readable as a book of humorous essays?  Yes!  Awesomely entertaining and informative.
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I’ve never read a writing style guide in my life. I once tried to read Strunk and White: ho-hum. ‘Sides, I thought S&T advocated a spare style and I happen to think that, except for tires in real life and heirs in romance, spares should be avoided at all costs. Instead, what I found in Dreyer’s was a fount of delight and—pah to erudition—pragmatic advice. His lessons stick: before writing this, I made sure I knew the difference between “font” and “fount”; between “practical” and “pragmatic” (not much), and how to type an em dash on Mac. I’d never done any of this before. Dreyer’s approach is quintessentially American: he doesn’t hold to rules, but he likes to be correct in a practical, educated way. If there’s a “rule,” and there aren’t many, know it, follow, or better yet, because English doesn’t go by hard and fast (that would be what happens in a romance novel), look it up:

“I have nothing against rules. They’re indispensable when playing Monopoly or gin rummy, and their observance can go a long way toward improving a ride on the subway. The rule of law? Big fan. The English language, though, is not so easily ruled and regulated.”

What I got from Dreyer? Educate yourself and don’t be redundant. His copyediting mantra is “Convention. Consensus. Clarity. Comprehension.” Reading him, I was chuffed: I laughed, I nodded in schoolmarmish agreement, snickered, and rolled my eyes at Dreyer’s sly contempt for the stuffily Puritanical “grammar police,” yes, but equally for the neologistically idiotic.  

I won’t remember all of Dreyer’s writing advice. (I do plan to buy a copy and dog-ear with impunity. I also plan to gift many a friend with this book when it’s affordable at non-hardback prices, my Christmas shopping is done.) What I’ll remember is what tickled me pink throughout: Dreyer’s sly stabs at grammatical, and otherwise, hypocrisy. For example, his stab at spare (there’s it goes again) prose, the territory of certain chest-thumping Hewingway wannabes. Dreyer’s thought on the sentence fragment (something I love and have avoided, but no more of that, my friends):

“You may not be Charles Dickens, but a well-wielded sentence fragment (or, as here, a passel of them) can be a delightful thing. That said, do wield your fragments with a purpose, and mindfully. I lately find them, particularly in fiction, too often used to establish a sort of hairy, sweaty, unbathed masculine narrative voice, and what they end up sounding like is asthma.”

I take this as a clear endorsement of the richer, adjectival-laden romance prose. And everyone knows that before the prose can purple, the hero and heroine, even on the run from bad-guys, must shower. Because the only sweat that’s acceptable is “clean sweated” hero-scent.

I will forever adore and be grateful to Dreyer for his defence of the Oxford comma:

“Whatever you want to call it: Use it. I don’t want to belabor the point; neither am I willing to negotiate it. Only godless savages eschew the series comma.”

I forgive Dreyer, he’s American after all, for calling it the series comma. Not an apostate, or heretic, but I’ll settle for Dreyer’s status as schismatic on this point. I do like Oxford, but will meet him across the fence on “series.”

*purse-lipped schoolmarm opinion* I despise the misuse of the apostrophe. There’s a hill I’m willing to die on. Dreyer’s stance on emphasis (exclamation marks? he’s rid me of them forever. All-caps exclamatory remarks? No longer in my writer’s dictionary) is “less is more,” but he cracked on the apostrophe and I loved him for it:

“Before we get to what you do use apostrophes for, let’s recount what you don’t use them for. Step back, I’m about to hit the caps lock key. DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT TO USE AN APOSTROPHE TO PLURALIZE A WORD. “NOT EVER” AS IN “NEVER.” You may reapproach.

Dreyer’s look-it-up, don’t-be-rigid, spirit-over-law approach is freeing and his book is peppered with wit. He urges his reader to use guide books and dictionaries (they’re our friends) instead of: “(Staring at words is always a bad idea. Stare at the word ‘the’ for more than ten seconds, and all of reality begins to recede.)”

Having started my schooling in 1968, my teachers sported sandals, strummed guitars, wore beading with panache, but didn’t teach grammar. As a result, I hold a dirty grammar secret *whispers* I don’t know any grammar words. I blush at words like “gerund” because I DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY MEAN. Dreyer freed me of shame by writing one sentence: “I’M GOING TO LET YOU IN ON A LITTLE SECRET: I hate grammar. Well, OK, not quite true. I don’t hate grammar. I hate grammar jargon.” I do too, Benjamin, I do too. I’ve always gone by the rule, “if it sounds right,” and now I can add Dreyer’s rule: when you’re not sure, find a practical, sound source, like Dreyer, and see what they have to say about it.

Lest you think there’s nothing here for the romance reader (and writer), I leave you with these two gems:

“PENDANT It’s not that ‘pendent,’ as occasionally turns up when ‘pendant’ is meant, isn’t a word; it’s that it’s usually not the word you want. ‘Pendant’ is a noun; ‘pendent’ is an adjective meaning hanging, or dangling—that is, what a pendant does. Pendulously.”

“COME/CUM Sexually speaking, there are no hard-and-fast rules about this, but I think that ‘come’ works nicely as a verb in the sense of ‘to climax.’ If one is then going to use the common term for the product of male orgasm, ‘cum’ is your man. As a staid conjunction, ‘cum’ suggests dual use, as one might speak of a desk-cum-bureau.”

I love that Dreyer isn’t above punning.

Dreyer’s English is near-perfect. Why “near,” you say? Because in this loose-and-happy grammar universe, Dreyer’s practical American approach nods to British use, but never once refers to his happy-in-the-middle Canadian cousins. We’re here, we’re neither here nor there and we’re unique. There was so much to agree with and love in Dreyer’s English, but I can’t let go of my “u” in colour, neighbour, etc. I would, however, with my reading companion, Miss Austen, urge you to read Dreyer’s English and gift it to your friends and family because it “bewitched me,” Pride and Prejudice.

Benjamin Dreyer’s Dreyer’s English is published by Random House. It was released on January 29th and may be found at your preferred vendor. I am grateful to Random House for a “wish granted” e-ARC, via Netgalley.
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This was both incredibly helpful as a writer but also consistently witty and a remarkably engrossing read.
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Whenever I speak with someone, I resist the compulsion to count his grammatical errors on one hand. I am that person who insists it's 'nauseated' not 'nauseous'. And I am that person who will tell you 'choate' and 'flammable' are major no-nos. In short, it may seem that someone who is a stickler for grammar and a self-professed Spelling Bee queen to buy a style guide; but I think it makes perfect sense. When one views a language as merely mathematical, as a list of dos and dont's, it can make one too self-conscious. For that reason, I would encourage everyone - including the 'Grammar Nazis' - to buy a copy of Dreyer's English. 

Benjamin Dreyer, the Copy-Editor-in-Chief at Random House, has written a style guide for today. He disabuses us of the notion that there are rigid rules to be followed. He chides some particularly bad writing practices but ultimately maintains that some rules are meant to be broken. From his vast experience as a copyeditor, he shares an anecdote where an author whose work he was editing questioned the heavy revisions made on his book; Dreyer ultimately conceded that he ought to follow the advice posted on his door, that the author has his style and it isn't the copyeditor's prerogative to totally revamp an author's oeuvre.

Dreyer's English is a joy to read - I loved the witty remarks and footnotes. Where most style guides are staid (understandably so?), this one is refreshingly modern, witty, and concise. I will definitely add this title to my permanent collection (not surprising given that it's composed of grammar reference books, haha) and I highly recommend this title to those interested in improving their writing.
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Grammar and punctuation nerds rejoice! We have found our leader, and he is Benjamin Dreyer.

Do you want to understand why split infinitives are not the devil’s spawn? Do you want to learn to love the comma and stop abusing it? Do you want to discover how adding “by zombies” will tell you whether you’re writing in passive voice or not?

YES, YOU DO!

I bought this book for two reasons: to help me write more effectively and, even more importantly, to help me teach my high school students the ins and outs of grammar.

Dreyer’s book reads like a novel. He will have you laughing one second and hiding your face in shame the next. What a perfect way to teach grammar and punctuation.
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Looking to crack open a good grammar book? Then I am happy to recommend Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, which warmed the cockles of this grammar geek’s heart. My husband was a little concerned (read: irritated) that I laughed aloud, with a literal LOL, in so many places, but indeed, I did—and over a grammar book.

I’m sure it helps that I commit some editing myself on occasion, but even if I did not, I would have great admiration for the role of those like Benjamin Dreyer, copy chief of Random House. I say he's doing the Lord's work by making the world a better, more readable place. I happen to like and even enjoy grammar rules, but I don’t believe fussy editor types are the only ones who will enjoy this book. Not by a long shot. Do you know the word “faffing,” for instance? I didn't, but his use of “faffing about” made me look it up, and now I’m a fan.

Dreyer shares my fondness for the serial comma, and he states his case rather simply: “Only godless savages eschew the series comma.” (He says “series,” I say “serial.” To-may-to, to-mah-to.)

His writing is irreverent and occasionally self-deprecating, and how lovely it was to read that even a man in his position doesn’t quite know what all these blessed grammar things are called. “Even now,” he writes, “I’d be hard-pressed to tell you what a nominative absolute is, I think that the word ‘genitive’ sounds vaguely smutty, and I certainly don’t know, or care to know, how to diagram a sentence. I hope I’m not shocking you.”

And if I’m ever asked to play grammar-themed trivia one day—and my goodness, I hope I am—I will know that  the capital “G” in LaGuardia is a “medial capital.”

Many of the rules (and a few preferences) he discusses are simply things I’ve already learned and internalized from The Chicago Manual of Style, but Dreyer sure makes them fun to read and consider. I simply can't think of a writer or editor who wouldn’t benefit from reading this charming and helpful book.
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I love Benjamin Dreyer on Twitter, and this book was even better. As a grammar nerd, I didn’t necessarily expect to pick up a lot of tips, but I definitely did and I loved the experience of reading it.
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Hail to all English nerds of the world.  Join together and read our newest tome into the world of grammar, vocabulary, spelling and punctuation.  

For some reason I love to read English rules and Dreyer has composed a book fulll of wit and humor to explain something normally dull and dreary.  .  This book should be in every writer’s library and in every student’s bag.  I cannot imagine the amount of time and work that went into compiling this book.   It is excellently written (please don’t ding me Mr. Dryer).  I highly recommend.
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I may have mentioned it before, but I am also a writer of poems and prose with several published pieces floating around in print and on the internet. I am always looking for writing guides and Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer is a great addition to any writer’s collection of guidebooks. No. On second thought, this is a must-have book for anyone who needs to write for school, for work, or as a writer/craftsperson.

First, thanks to Random House and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read and review the ARC of this book. It is now available on Amazon and other booksellers.

Mr. Dreyer is a vice president, executive managing editor and the copy chief for Random House. He uses his many years of experience correcting and editing writer’s submissions for one of the biggest publishers in the world. If anyone should know how to construct the proper sentence, it is Mr. Dreyer.

He starts the book with a challenge: go for a week without writing the words “very, rather ,really, quite, and in fact.” I tried it and failed by the second day but am getting rather better at it, really, in fact.

The chapters are well-thought-out and logical. He starts with English rules and when or how to break them. I enjoyed this chapter. I have read various rules and regulations for proper English and Mr. Dreyer helped to clarify the different rules I have come across.

He writes about punctuation (I once took an online class about the comma. Only the comma. It was a six week class and I passed), how to use numbers correctly in writing, foreign words, grammar, misspelled words, his peeves and crotchets (things that really bug him), confusing English rules, proper nouns, what you can get rid of in your writing-he calls trimmables (my writing teacher calls fluff or dust bunnies) and miscellany.

You don’t have to read this book in order. I would leave it on my desk near the computer to check on my pieces before I sent them out for review. There is only so much the spell-checker can do for you. Pick the chapters you need, use it as a reference book, read it again and again in any order.

Writing this review makes me nervous. I have read the book but I need to study it more. What if I am making the mistakes Mr. Dreyer tells us not too? What if this review is full of silly errors he could red-line as the Copy Chief for Random House? I’ll need to go back and read it again!

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.
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As a copy editor, I keep reference books within arm's reach of my desk: The Chicago Manual of Style, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, The Elements of Style by Strunk & White, etc. It wasn't long after I began reading Dreyer's English that I knew not only would I be adding this book to that list, I'll also be recommending it to friends, clients, and colleagues. 

Who is this Dreyer, and why should you read this book? Benjamin Dreyer is the copy chief of Random House. He's been a copy editor for thirty years and knows his business. Dreyer recognizes that we're all writers in some way or another—whether it be emails or books. And for the most part, we all want to do it well. Dreyer shares some of his skills and tricks to make that happen.

Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style covers a variety of topics such as easily confused words, tidying up your prose, punctuation, frequently misspelled words, and rules and nonrules. Please note that this is not a textbook. It's written in a causal style that readers will enjoy. Dreyer's explanations are filled with humor, not overcomplicated jargon.

If you're looking for a good book to strengthen you're writing skills, look no further. This is the book you need. 

Read more at https://www.toreadornottoread.net/2019/02/review-dreyers-english-utterly-correct.html#Wdu4UlJWM31u2JuA.99
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DREYER'S ENGLISH by Benjamin Dreyer is aptly subtitled "An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style from the Copy Chief of Random House." However, that fails to truly convey the conversational tone which Dreyer adopts as he muses about his long experience and offers numerous suggestions. One is the challenge to go a week without writing these 12 words or phrases: very, rather, really, quite, in fact, just, so, pretty, of course, surely, that said, and actually.  In fact, (oops!), Dreyer notes: "feel free to go the rest of your life without another 'actually'."    

Some of his best advice? "One of the best ways to determine if your prose is well-constructed is to read it aloud." I wish our students would listen! They will find much to inform and improve their writing in chapters titled "60 Assorted Things to Do (and Not to Do) with Punctuation" or "A Little Grammar is a Dangerous Thing" or "The Trimmables" on editing superfluous phrases. Publishers Weekly gave DREYER'S ENGLISH a starred review and Booklist described it as a "remarkably fun book about a dastardly dry subject..."  Enjoy!
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This isn’t a Be All End All guide to anything. Dipping its toe into grammar, punctuation, spelling, and tips on how not to trip up on similars, it’s more a quick and dirty “here are ways to write a better” book. Oh yeah, and it’s fun too.

I freely admit that who/whom still trips me up. I despise the recent abundance of artisanal. Gift as a verb and invite as a noun make me ill. I’ve always liked hopefully and am thrilled I can keep using it. Hopefully that won’t bring out a mob of angry villagers with pitchforks and torches.

The advice to seek help from big, fat style-books is wise because the, as you say, Department of There’s an Exception to Everything is always open for business. I love the English language but it’s a wild, feral beast at times, ready to bit the hand that writes it and draw a gallon or so of blood. And note (I love starting sentences with “and” or “but”), I’ve made it through the review without using any of the dreaded Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers. Go me. B+
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