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The Grouchy Grammarian: A How-Not-To Guide to the 47 Most Common Mistakes by Journalists, Broadcasters, and Others Who Should Know Better: A ... Who Should Know Better (Social Science) Hardcover – 24 Sep 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 194 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (24 Sept. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471223832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471223832
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,945,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


this is a lighthearted but highly effective reminder for anyone looking to avoid the pitfalls of the English language (Good Book Guide, June 2003)

From the Inside Flap

Writing with flair, passion, and no small amount of wit, Thomas Parrish offers an entertaining, opinionated take on the parlous state of the English language in this unique how–not–to guide. His persnickety, hilarious fictional friend "the Grouchy Grammarian" examines forty–seven of the most common grammatical mistakes in English, using examples of errors found in major newspapers, magazines, and TV broadcasting.

No one is safe from the Grammarian’s vigilant monitoring of the English language. From the New York Times to the New Yorker to network sports broadcasters, the Grammarian records various gaffes, careless errors, and basic grammatical mistakes made by those who should know better. In forty–seven brief, highly readable chapters, he explains elements of grammar, usage, and good writing that many of our foremost journalists and the rest of us occasionally seem to forget.

The Grammarian entreats us to truly think about what we are trying to say before we say it. "Pay attention to what your words mean and where they came from," he says, "and if you don’t know, look it up." Many professionals could have benefited from this advice and he unashamedly points out their minor mistakes and egregious errors that, with a little thought, might have been avoided.

Much more than a straightforward manual on perfect English, The Grouchy Grammarian is a lighthearted guide for those who honor and love language and for anyone looking to avoid the pitfalls of ungrammatical writing.

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First Sentence
The grouchy grammarian instructed me to tell you at the beginning that he can't teach anybody every individual thing and neither can I, but we can "damn well" try to hound you into THINKING. Read the first page
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover
There are better grammar books than this. It is written in a boring semi-humorous style, giving many examples of boo-boos that the author believes journalists have perpetrated. Some are very obvious, while others are so obscure that one has to read them several times to find the error. Even so, some of them are now acceptable as correct evolved English, which is a living language. Worse still, there are a number of unforgiveable grammar and punctuation errors in the author's text, not the least of which is trying to make us believe that Milton was 200 years old when he died. He must have lost Paradise for a long time! I've consigned the book to the vertical filing basket, preferring Partridge, Trask, Truss and the SOED for guidance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
More informative than grouchy! 30 Oct. 2002
By capitol reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"The Grouchy Grammarian" is not a grouchy book. Parrish's fictional curmudgeon limits his irritation to public figures and national media outlets for spreading grammatical errors and "infelicities" throughout the populace. Parrish constructively channels his alter-ego's concerns, and the result is enlightening rather than chastening. Among usage guides, this one is particularly helpful for three reasons:
1) Each topic is covered in a short chapter, and each chapter ends with a summary so you can learn a lot quickly.
2) Parrish includes a thorough index, and a thoughtful annotated bibliography of guides to language, writing and usage.
3) Parrish clearly explains why usage glitches are glitches. Now that I understand what NOT to do, I don't have to laboriously memorize rules about what to do. Rote memorization of grammar rules never worked for me--I resemble the student in "Up the Down Staircase" who complains that "semicolons don't stick to my head."
I wish all people who worry about "weak", "watery" assaults upon English had mediators like Parrish to absorb their ire and deftly convey their championship and knowledge of precise language.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
A passionate guide on how-not-to write. 22 Jun. 2004
By M. E. Volmar - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In "The Grouchy Grammarian," historian and long-time editor Thomas Parrish offers an easy-to-read, informational, entertaining and blithesome reference filled with advice on how to avoid 47 of the most common mistakes in English grammar.
Each topic is covered in a short chapter with a handy summary at the end for quick check-ups, and each is humorously presented through the point of view of the author's alter ego, The Grouch, a clever, witty, and very opinionated fictional curmudgeon who is a self-proclaimed guardian of grammar and calls errors "infelicities to be corrected."
Not only will The Grouch teach you the rules of grammar, usage and good writing, reinforcing his point by ruthlessly citing real-life examples of grammatical gaffes, careless errors, and basic mistakes taken from the blunders of some of today's best-known newspapers, magazines, and TV broadcasts, he will also make your learning experience enjoyable by having you laugh, chuckle or at least smile at his passionate remarks and his quixotic personality.
As a bonus, for those who wish to go deeper into the subject, the book includes a vast bibliography, and a thorough index for quick consultations.
Overall, this is an excellent resource that combines narrative and reference to help you learn or review the elements of precise writing that are most often forgotten, also throwing in for good measure some general and common sense advice on writing.
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Teaches you how to speak and write clearly without mistakes. 26 April 2003
By Reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Contrary to the title, this book is not some esoteric grammar book. It it a way to help you express your thoughts in writing and speech without redundancy or embarassing common errors. The writer is very reasonable and modern, not some old man just complaining about the demise of proper English, but someone truly attempting to help journalists, broadcatsers, and everyone avoid some of the simplest, but most common, mistakes made. You will also enjoy the humorous examples from the AP and New York Times.
P.S.: slightly short on correct examples or full explanations sometimes, but still a 5 STAR BOOK and a MUST-READ for anyone
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
We've Needed This Book For A Long Time 13 Feb. 2004
By Chris Frost - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you've ever struggled with the proper placement of an apostrophe, or the usage of "lie" or "lay", or the difference between "compliment" and "complement", this book is for you. Most English-speaking people can't speak English. Perhaps they slept through every single English class they took. Perhaps they just don't care. It's written in a very humorous, readable style that will keep you interested rather than putting you to sleep. And with all the examples of atrocious grammatical errors, it will show people just how ridiculous they sound when they can't be bothered to get it right. Every chapter has something in it that will at least get a giggle out of you. I found it especially amusing after reading his numerous bashings of editors and proofreaders, to find that his own proofreader apparently wasn't paying too much attention on page 131. This book should be required reading for anyone who speaks English and for those that only think they do. Read it, learn it, and apply it. If it doesn't actually make you smarter, at least it will make you sound smarter.
17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Right topic, wrong treatment 23 April 2003
By R. Birk - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book purports to be a "how-not-to" guide to errors in writing and speaking, but could just as easily be written in list form. While the author highlights a number of errors we should all try to avoid, the book is short on grammar rules. In fact, chapters in which a grammar rule is stated outright are few and far between. Moreover, quite a few of the chapters are on very petty "mistakes," which other works, such as The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage, do not treat as errors. As it is, the book comes across more as a rant against people who do not speak and write as "the grouchy grammarian" speaks and writes, and his style is seemingly quite terse.
Still, the book should be required reading for all English and journalism majors in colleges and those people already working in related fields. A good grammar book and a dictionary of English usage would be complementary.
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