No grammar books required

I’ve got a friend (who shall remain nameless) who said to me “I can’t be bothered with all this writing stuff!  I bought a grammar book to help - but I can’t bear to look at it.”

I’m not surprised.  I can’t bear grammar either.  It reminds of dull, dry as dust days in stuffy school rooms, learning rules that bore no relation to real life.

But guess what?  You don’t need to waste money buying books of grammar rules.  And you don’t need to waste precious hours of your life trying to learning them.

All you need to do is identify the things you consistently do that might make you look dumb - then take responsibility for working out how to change them.  A great place to start would be a book like Terence Dunman’s “How not to write”.  (He describes it as simple guidelines for the grammatically perplexed…)

The book starts not with grammar rules but with four features of good business writing.  Writing that is:

  • Correct
  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Conversational

And the book is full of plain English, practical tips that will you get there.  There’s even some jokes too - and I bet you don’t get too many of those in the grammar books…

[asa book]B000HT219C[/asa]

5 Comments

    • July 20, 2007

    Joanna,

    I’ve tagged you for the “Eight Random Facts Meme.” You may read more about it at my blog. Looking forward to learning more about you!

    Jeanne

  1. Hi Jeanne - thanks for the tag. I had a few waiting for me when I got back from my holiday - I’ll try and get to them when I can!

    Joanna

    • August 26, 2007

    I had a look at this book yesterday in Waterstones, bought a different one in the end because it had visual diagrams to explain things.

    Jamie

  2. Hi Jamie, thanks for the feedback - and the reminder that we all have different learning styles (like the preference for visuals). It’s a good point to bear in mind.

    Best wishes

    Joanna

    • April 5, 2009

    The advice here is sound, I think. Often it is only a few particular points that writers stumble upon. The rest either doesn’t work its way into relevance, or isn’t a problem.

    And this would lead nicely into the post you recently did about feedback: Sometimes feedback will be the only way you notice these recurring errors that make you look ‘dumb.’

    I’ll be sure to take a look at Dunman’s book the next time I’m in Waterstones.

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