Strictly English: The correct way to write ... and why it matters by Simon Heffer
|Strictly English: The correct way to write ... and why it matters by Simon Heffer|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A concise and enjoyable look at the way that the english language should be used. It's not an easy or quick read but it is rewarding.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 322||Date: September 2011|
As a child I was taught English grammar. I began by resenting it but gradually I appreciated the subtlety and nuances of expression that could be achieved by the correct use of language. I loved the fact that I could say something precisely and convey exactly what I meant in a few words. And then I was stunned to find that there was no longer the same emphasis on grammar in schools, that freedom of expression was encouraged without worrying about the form it took – and now I regularly encounter official letters, even books where the English language is subjected to grievous bodily harm. It isn't difficult to get right – it just requires a little knowledge, a logical mind and practice.
Strictly English is where the knowledge is to be found. Grammar is reduced to a few simple rules which, once mastered, make clear and accurate communication simple. It's not a child's primer – this is the book for an adult who is prepared to read, understand and then put the rules into practice. The language is, as you might expect, concise and sometimes there is a lot to be understood. I found myself reading paragraphs and then going back and rereading to make certain that I had grasped all the points being made.
It starts from the basic rules, with explanations of the parts of speech and what they do and then moves on to clauses, sentences and paragraphs. The importance of spelling and punctuation is considered in some detail and should be compulsory reading for anyone who ever puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. It's not just about the correct way to write – it's about the reasons why it matters and the effects of doing it wrongly.
I'm constantly surprised that people will go to some lengths to ensure that they understand what they can achieve with their latest games console/computer/mobile phone but will happily say that they don't understand the basics of the language they use each and every day. In using language wrongly they risk so much – and a little effort could make all the difference. This book isn't an easy or a quick read but it's far more rewarding than anything you get with the latest bit of gadgetry. It's highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy o the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might also like to consider Style Guide by The Economist.
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