Who would have thought that a book on grammar would be #5 on Amazon's best-seller list? (Should that be "whom" would have thought? Should I write out the number five? Should it be "bestseller?" Ugh. I can't remember if the exclamation goes inside or outside the quotation mark in the sentence I just asked myself.)
Benjamin Dreyer says we're all writers. Or, we can channel our best writers if we choose our words more carefully, (try not writing the words very, rather, really, quite, surely, and actually for the next week) check our spelling, and quiet our sudden impulse to use two words where one will do. (Oops. I mean, quiet your impulse to use two words where one will do.)
Most of all, break those rules you were taught to obey. Language is about more than grammar. It's about artistry, voice, style. Sentences ending with a preposition shouldn't be hard to put up with. And start your sentence with an "and" or "but." Embrace the fragment. Channel your passive voice. (but only if it makes your sentence stronger)
I feel freer already.
- Benjamin Dreyer - Vice president, executive managing editor, Copy chief at Random House and the author of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. (@BCDreyer)
- Peter Sokolowski - Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster and jazz host at New England Public Radio. (@PeterSokolowski)
- Mignon Fogarty (“Grammar Girl”) - Founder of Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl website and podcast. She’s the author of the New York Times bestseller Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. (@GrammarGirl)
Colin McEnroe and Jonathan McNicol contributed to this show, which originally aired on February 12, 2019.