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on 28 May 2002
...as the author admits in the final sentence, it'll only take you so far. Sure, it's easy to read and full of entertaining examples but (and this applies to all grammar books) you can't hold all this stuff in your head as you write, so it's of limited practical use. The sub-head ("How to craft wickedly effective prose") is rather wide of the mark because it's basically theoretical. I did enjoy it though, and I leared a thing or two, so four stars despite the lack of "how to" material.
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on 24 July 1999
It's not often that a grammar book causes grins, giggles, even guffaws, but Constance Hale's Sin and Syntax is not an ordinary grammar book. The entertaining examples, from sources as diverse as Mark Twain, the Bible and wine bottle labels, illustrate the "bones," "flesh," "cardinal sins," and "carnal pleasures" of each grammatical point. After Sin and Syntax, I read children's books from a new perspective. Good preschool books are often peppered with action verbs, strong adjectives and elegant simplicity. Best of all, this grammar book inspired me to start writing again! Choosing the right word is now a puzzle to be solved, and creativity oozes from every email I send.
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on 1 August 2012
Constance Hale's "Sin and Syntax" is a witty and readable guide to grammar and good word usage. It positively encourages you to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and create prose that people want to read. She entreats you to ponder the richness of language and not to settle for humdrum and mediocre words. The book helps you to consider what written style is and motivates you to develop your own. This is a great guide to help aspiring modern writers.
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on 17 May 2012
This is an entertaining read to help the writer. It was a recommended book for a course and has proved to be informative and much better than the usual dull books about the fascinating English language.
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on 18 June 1999
Ten years ago I flew to Richmond VA to visit my cousin Phyllis who was dying of cancer. I hadn't darkened the door of church for double that time. But in the spirit of love and farewell, I went to church with Phyllis‹uncertain about my relationship with God, but certain I would draw comfort from the familiar poetry of the traditional Episcopal service. Imagine my horror when I began to recite the Apostles' Creed and found that I was out of sync with the entire congregation. By the time we came to the Lord's Prayer, the harsh reality of the situation had dawned on me. A bunch of ecclesiastic marauders had hunted down and rooted out every last tendril of poetry in the Book of Common Prayer.Imagine my delight when Sin and Syntax arrived at my door and I found Constance Hale's none-too-kind reference in the rhythm section (heh-heh) of her book to the modern revisions of the Book of Common Prayer.As a writer and a lover of language, I guarantee that Sin and Syntax is an absolute delight. It's witty, pithy and amusing. It's clear, concise and intelligent. I appreciate Hale's sections on rhythm and melody, and admire how she combines a back-to-basics perspective with a look-to-the- future attitude.I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in good writing.
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on 31 October 2007
When it comes to the structure and usage of English, there's no faulting 'Sin and Syntax'. The book has clear and pertinent examples to identify the different parts of language, and to demonstrate where writers can easily misuse them. Constance Hale explains the rules coherently without being prescriptive, remembering that good writing favours clarity over correctness. Section by section, the author builds a comprehensive picture of how written English works. This book could be a valuable reference tool if you can cope with its single fault.

That single fault is a big one - it's the author's style. It's so irritating. She seems to be aiming for a 'wise-cracking zany' voice but it soon becomes forced and repetitive. Straining to be funny, Hale writes every joke to the same formula. Before long, you can see them coming a paragraph away. And then there's the problem of how quickly 'hip' styles look dated...

Word-nerds want more from a modern grammar than just reference; we want to enjoy reading it too. This one grated on me. If you haven't already, scroll up to the search box and find Strunk & White's 'Elements of Style' and Zinsser's 'On Writing Well'. Add them to your shopping basket, your bookshelves, and your prose.
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on 29 January 2015
Thick and syrupy with perceived wisdom.

If I took any of it to heart, I wouldn't write at all.
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on 8 March 2013
not nearly as naughty and interesting as it looks. a good style manual, but not as good and usable as others in my opinion. interesting: division in chapters dedicated to parts of the sentence (verb, noun, etc).
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on 10 January 2010
This book does make grammar interesting. It's not somewhere to look when trying to actually improve writing. It focuses on lots of small things to be entertaining, even when more comprehensive explanations are available. I finished the book entertained, for sure, but with no more than a random list of often minor points to consider.
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on 13 June 1999
This is an interesting and lively book but it is not written by Karen Elizabeth Gordon's as stated in the advertisment. KEG writes the forward but is NOT the author of the book.
It is a good grammar book and easy to read. The format of highlighting important words in example paragraphs is a good teaching tool.
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