Monday, September 21, 2009

Book Review: My Grammar and I...Or Should That Be Me? How to Speak and Write It Right by Caroline Taggart & J. A. Wines

My Grammar and I or Should It Be Me?: Old School Ways to Improve Your English
"And not in me: I am myself alone." - Shakespeare, Henry VI
(as quoted in My Grammar and I...Or Should That Be Me?)

If you are interested in brushing up on your writing and grammar skills, I recommend My Grammar and I...Or Should That Be Me? How to Speak and Write It Right by Caroline Taggart and J.A. Wines.

The book is divided into five chapters: Spelling and Confusables, Parts of Speech, Sentence Structure, Punctuation, and Odds and Ends (Or, Elements of Style). Each chapter lays out the basic rules and examples in a systematic fashion, then quickly lists the most common mistakes.

I was eager to review My Grammar and I...Or Should That Be Me? because of those occasional moments when I'd pause and have to think about the rules for certain things. My spelling skills aren't the strongest and I benefit from having a dictionary on hand. The commonly misspelled words section and the "What Do You Call a Group of?" were interesting.

Just for fun, take this quick quiz of What Do You Call a Group of?
  1. Apes
  2. Bears
  3. Caterpillars
  4. Clams
  5. Crocodiles
  6. Eagles
  7. Grasshoppers
  8. Jellyfish
  9. Owls
  10. Ravens
  11. Sharks
  12. Tigers

I appreciate the book most for the errors that it's helped me correct. Here are a few of the things that the book helped clarify:
  • Not to capitalize the names of seasons: to write autumn instead of Autumn
  • To write "Happy Birthday, Jim and Bea" instead of "Happy birthday, Jim and Bea"
  • The plural of talisman is not talismen but talismans
  • That the plural of dwarf is dwarfs, but I still think that dwarves is acceptable
  • That the singular of graffiti is graffitto and papparazzi is papparazzo, though I'll likely just revise whatever I'm writing to keep using the plural. Graffito sounds strange to me!
  • That you're never bored of - instead you're bored by or bored with

Here's a quote that the book uses to demonstrate the proper use of commas, taken from Dick King-Smith's novel Poppet: "He asked beetles and grubs and worms and caterpillars and little lizards and small frogs, and some replied jokily and some replied angrily and some didn't answer." Can you think of ads or signs that have incorrect punctuation?

My Grammar and I...Or Should That Be Me? How To Speak and Write It Right is published by Reader's Digest. It's part of a series that includes i before e (except after c): old school ways to remember stuff by Judy Parkinson and I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School by Caroline Taggart.

Thanks so much to Julie and FSB Associates for this opportunity!

Answers to the quiz above:
  1. Apes -A shrewdness
  2. Bears - A sloth, sleuth
  3. Caterpillars - An army
  4. Clams - A bed (R & I thought it was a cockle)
  5. Crocodiles - An intrusion
  6. Eagles - A convocation (What about a flock? Or is that seagulls? LOL!)
  7. Grasshoppers - A cloud
  8. Jellyfish - A smack (so appropriate!)
  9. Owls - A parliment
  10. Ravens - An unkindness
  11. Sharks - A shiver
  12. Tigers - A streak

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