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Book Review: Everyday Grammar Made Easy

Are you someone who never got a formal education in grammar? Are you an author or someone else who has to write a whole heck of a lot and worry that your lack of grammatical knowledge hinders your ability to communicate effectively? Do you want to spend less on copy editing? Then Everyday Grammar Made Easy might help.

So this book is what it says on the tin. It’s a guide to the basics of grammar that often feels like an extended vocabulary lesson rather than an actual education. The knowledge imparted is old school and skewed toward the University of Chicago school of grammar. Which is fine, but it may contradict some things if your workplace/employer uses the AP style guide.

So when in doubt, check first.

The book is also old school in how it approaches gender. While it acknowledges that there are people tho use the singular they, the book doesn’t get into neo-pronouns (Xhe, e, ir, etc.) which okay… but it would help to acknowledge that language is evolving and new words come into existence including those referring to gender. Especially since figuring out proper verb tense is a thing. In a way, I feel like this was a missed opportunity and perpetuates the falsity of a gender binary.

As an editor with 25 years of experience, this book was a little elementary for me. I was also very lucky that the school systems I attended gave me a very solid foundation in grammar – complete with the knowledge of how to diagram a sentence. But my experience is not a universal experience, and most people I know don’t understand how to use the subjunctive (Thank you, Spanish!) or how to punctuate a parenthetical. That said, it does cover a few areas that often trip up less formally educated writers. Things like when to use I or Me in the predicate or subject-verb agreement. I did like that there was a chart at the back of the book that provided an easy reference guide on how to conjugate irregular verbs. But at the same time, I didn’t love the long hard to read list of regular verbs. It didn’t feel necessary.

The book was laid out in a logical fashion, and it did what it said it was going to do… it explained the basics of grammar. And while it did cover some of the most common pitfalls, it didn’t go into other areas where people struggle… like how to punctuate dependent clauses, prepositional phrases, and how to tell if information is important to a sentence or extraneous (which is a common issue I run into when copy editing). For instance, it covered what to do punctuation wise if you start a sentence with a subordinating conjunction (since, because, as, etc.) but not what to do if the subordinating conjunction is use in the middle or at the end of a sentence. I felt like it was missing things. Like the order of adjectives, how to identify and correct misplaced modifiers, how to identify a prepositional phrase vs. a dependent clause vs an independent clause, etc. Things that would have helped nervous writers avoid some common pitfalls.

But it isn’t a bad book. I would likely recommend it to people who really never got the basics of English grammar or for people who are ESL and want to have a name for a lot of the terminology. But I feel it is important to note that this book doesn’t go into everything and is more clearly geared for non-fiction/essay writing rather than fiction writing.

Ultimately, I feel that this book deserves…

Four Stars.

If this is your jam, you can get it here.

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I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley.

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