Thursday, July 16, 2015

Woe is I by Patricia T. O'Conner

"Most of us don't know a gerund from a gerbil and don't care,
 but we'd like to speak and write as though we did."

Woe is I was written to help those who are intimidated by correct grammar usage. O'Conner (an editor at The New York Times Book Review) does her best to demistify the rules by giving helpful illustrations. In describing punctuation marks, she writes, "A comma acts as a yellow light, a period is a red light, and a semicolon is a flashing red light."

Although the book is meant for novices, it was just as enjoyable to someone like me who knows quite a lot about English. Because I appreciate beautiful, precise language, I enjoy an occasional refresher course in how to use it. I skimmed over the sections on rules I know well, and focused on the ones that give me problems.

And I revelled in grammar trivia like 1) the word "kudos" is singular, 2) "myriad" used to mean ten thousand, and 3) the word "oblivious" is followed by the word "of", and not "to".  It is weird how I get a kick out of stuff like that.

I discovered I've been using parameter interchangebly with perimiter, which is not the same thing. Also, minuscule is spelled with a "u" and not an "i". I am always puzzled by the use of "graduated" without a pronoun, but O'Conner clears up that confusion on p. 110.

This helpful little book, which is written with plenty of tips and writing samples (and a good dose of dry humor), would be excellent for use in a high school, homeschool setting.


1 comment:

Carol in Oregon said...

I've read this, Hope, but you make me want to pull it off the shelf and re-read it.