Guide to Grammar and Style

I had not originally planned on adding a true grammar or style guide to the Free Textbook List section on Academic Writing. However, the Guide to Grammar and Style is so well done and the terms explained in, forgive me, plain English, that I absolutely had to make an exception.

Jack Lynch is a professor in the English department of Rutgers University. He specializes in 18th Century English literature and the history of the English language. His website and materials show that he has a fun sense of humor which helps to make the material much more approachable.

I was chagrined at how quickly I found something that I had been doing wrong in my own writing. But that is part of what made me want to help others find this wonderful resource. I wish the grammar and composition textbooks that I had to suffer through in high school and college were this well-written and easy to understand. Each grammatical term or style guide entry is listed in alphabetical order. Terms used within other entries are hyperlinked.

A few examples from the guide…

But at the Beginning.
Contrary to what your high school English teacher told you, there’s no reason not to begin a sentence with but or and; in fact, these words often make a sentence more forceful and graceful. They are almost always better than beginning with however or additionally. Beginning with but or and does make your writing less formal; — but worse things could happen to most writing than becoming less formal.

Note, though, that if you open with but or and, you usually don’t need a comma: not “But, we did it anyway”; it’s enough to say “But we did it anyway.” The only time you need a comma after a sentence-opening conjunction is when you want to sneak a clause right between the conjunction and the rest of the sentence: “But, as you know, we did it anyway.”

Enormity is etymologically related to enormous, but it has a more specific meaning: it’s used for things that are tremendously wicked or evil, things that pass all moral bounds. You can use it to describe genocides and such, but it’s not the same as enormousness or immensity. Saying things like “the enormity of the senator’s victory” when you mean simply the great size is likely to confuse people (though there are some senators whose victories I consider tremendous evils).
As a reflexive pronoun (“I hurt myself”) or an intensifier (“I did it myself”), the word is fine. But a romance with the long word often leads people to use myself where I or me is preferable. My guess is that eighty-three percent of myselfs in business writing could safely disappear, and no one would miss them.

View this Free Online Material at the source:
Guide to Grammar and Style

A few other textbooks which may help you with your studies:

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