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93 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still masterful and masterly
Do you put 'spoonsful' or 'spoonfuls' of sugar into tea? Do you know the difference between defining and non-defining clauses and between 'androgynous' and 'androgenous'? Can you tell irony from sarcasm and 'prophecy' from 'prophesy'? If you can, then you don't need this book. But you'd probably want to read it anyway. To all intents and purposes, Troublesome Words is the...
Published on 1 Jun. 2010 by Jon Chambers

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Basically, a glorified dictionary. Not a "read". More of a reference book. Great diappointment after "Mother Tongue", which is brilliant - informative and very entertaining.
Published 23 months ago by The Linguaphile


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Bryson's "Troublesome Words", 13 April 2011
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This review is from: Troublesome Words (Paperback)
This is an excellent book and of real use to anybody with an interest in words and their proper use. As always he does a first class research job and my only thought is that perhaps the book could have been longer as I expect my mother tongue has many more anomalies. He has put me right on many things and I had no hesitation in buying the book for presents to adult relatives.
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A grammar/dictionary you can read!, 13 Jan. 2004
By A Customer
I bought this book partly for my work, but found myself reading it from cover to cover, instead of using it as a reference book. Both approaches are equally valid - having read it almost at one sitting, I now find myself referring to it frequently to be certain of points of grammar.
Useful for all those, professionals or otherwise, who feel the need to be sure their English isn't going to let them down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tickles the palette !, 25 July 2011
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R. Moore "Ros Moore" (Wellingborough England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Troublesome Words (Paperback)
I loved this book! it should be every teenagers (and adults)! Bible, as soon as you start to read it, it wets the appetite for more, words and their many and varied meanings make the good 'ole English language the hardest on earth to learn as well as the most fascinating, as our language is such a mixture of every conquering hoard that invaded our small island over the centuries ! plus the fact that the English the Americans speak is mostly not anything like the Queens English !
Well done to Mr Bryson for a superlative interesting little book.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different Bryson, 15 July 2004
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Mats Nilson (Sorsele, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Troublesome Words (Paperback)
To me, a new Bryson makes the whole difference at any airport. Exactly the kind of books I need to keep me from dying of boredom - and they are usually a potent medicine! However, this particular book does not serve that purpose very well, and, indeed, was probably never intended to. Instead it is a very readable A-Z reference book on some of the trickier parts of the English language. Of course, it is very well written and certainly very humourous; somewhat akin to Lynn Truss's "Eats, Shoots & Leaves", even if her scope and approach are different. You will probably appreciate having this book in your book-shelf or, better still, on your desk, if you are at all serious about your writing. If you need a hilarious time-killer, I suggest you look for another Bryson book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hours of entertainment for the occasional Pedant, 11 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
This is an endlessly entertaining book. Informative and Fun. As opinionated as Fowler, but with fewer words, and in bigger type! When you want a dose of pedantry, but your head can't take Fowler, just open this book at random, and see what jumps out. Never again should you feel guilty about splitting your infinitives!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 11 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Troublesome Words (Paperback)
This is a great book and Bill Bryson is an amazing author. I love all of his books and after reading this one was happy to put another one to my collection. Brilliant delivery no problems and good book. Cant fault at all.!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent, engrossing read, 13 Dec. 2007
By 
Charles "mrfreedom" (England) - See all my reviews
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As I pored through this book (oh crikey, is that the right spelling of 'pored'?), one thing kept going through my mind: how on earth will I remember all these things?!
There's just so much in here; the English language is such a labyrinthine, potentially perplexing thing (oops, was that correct use of 'labyrinthine'?). You half want to say, oh the heck with it. As you read, you test yourself on what has gone before when a definition refers back to another. 'Just give me a second to remember...' you cry, and then curse yourself when you can't.
My second point is this: many of the meanings and usages of words continue to change and there's very little we can do about it. Bryson and others may like to insist that, eg media remains plural, but idiom forces it to bend another way. He occasionally admits that idiom is tough to battle against, but does so anyway. If he was around in 500 years (oo, do I need an apostrophe there?) time I suspect he will be disappointed with the change in meaning of many words. But why fight it? It's a losing battle in many cases.
In conclusion, this is an engrossing book for anyone who loves words, and comes highly recommended. BB's sardonic wit is kept in check but the book's content allows for much gentle humour.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thanks, Mr Bryson, 1 Feb. 2012
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Mr. Nigel Harvey (Hastings, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Troublesome Words (Paperback)
How refreshing to know that there are still those who care about the way in which English is written! Bill Bryson's Troublesome Words is a delight: a work that's easy to read, but nonetheless scholarly, written in Bryson's own clear and witty style. Unlike many learned folk, he never uses three words where one will do.

A must for anyone who wants to make their own writing clearer and more accurate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you know when to use 'further'...and 'farther'?, 27 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Troublesome Words (Paperback)
Every author needs this. This is now my bible. I have a ratty copy that I've had for years that my wife keeps threatening to throw out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bryson's Troublesome!, 18 Aug. 2011
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Troublesome Words (Paperback)
This is not Fowler's "Modern English Usage" (1926) and it is written by an American, one of that country separated from us by a common language according to Churchill, George Bernard Shaw or Oscar Wilde, contingent on your quotations dictionary and preferences.

To be serious, although this does, like Blackpool rock and "Blackpool", have journalist written throughout it reminding readers of his origins and writing development, it is a very useful text by a highly intelligent, well-read and prolific writer. It is comforting to read a journalist (anyone in fact) attempting to preserve the fine points and subtleties of our language in our day of txt and 2b.

A great admirer of Bill Bryson (in small doses apart from "A Short History of Almost Everything" which needs to be read consistently), I recommend it. It can be read for fun or just dipped into for reference.
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Troublesome Words
Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson (Paperback - 26 Sept. 2002)
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