Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Useful but annoying
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.