Don’t mar your grammar

Book: Smashing Grammar

Author-editor: Craig Shrives

Publisher: Hachette

Pages: 272

Price: Rs 299

The red-hued (as mine was) Wren & Martin might have laid down the rules in school, but since then there has been a rash of books attempting to teach you correct grammar. This latest blue-covered one announces itself as ‘A guide to improving your writing skills and avoiding common mistakes’.

So, what do we have here? Written by Craig Shrives, who lets you know that he is not an academic but had joined the British army at 16, here’s a book that is intended to be “a vocational grammar book, not an academic one”. Scores one, immediately! Shrives, whose website receives more than 500,000 hits a month and whose visitors have raised thousands of questions and observations, has used ‘big data’ analysis to determine entries for this book.

So, expect grammar issues that plague the majority of us. Even if you pride yourself on your perfect grammar, it’s difficult to resist flipping the book open to handy sections such as ‘Common Mistakes’ which list out ‘Mistakes that could damage your credibility’ (example: Confusing loose and lose) and ‘Mistakes you’ll be forgiven for’ (Not knowing when to use a comma before which and who).

The book covers the A-Z of Punctuation and Grammar Essentials, providing Easy Examples, Real-life Examples, and Why should I care about... sections in everything from Hyphens to Indirect Questions. Each section also concludes with Key Points that summarise the importance of each. Now excuse me as I flip over to discover ‘six good reasons to think more carefully about commas’...