Saturday, November 6, 2010

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips For Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty

Did you know it's grammatically incorrect to start a sentence with "hopefully?" I was writing an email to a coworker this week and caught myself making that mistake. Fortunately, I've been reading Grammar Girl so I was able to correct the sentence. Not that my coworker would have cared or even noticed, but I can't help myself. I'm a grammar nerd. I find language endlessly fascinating.

Grammar Girl's book is a great resource for hard-core grammar nerds or anyone who cares to write properly. I think it would be a great book for college students. Mignon Fogarty's writing is very accessible, much more so than the style guides I had to buy for my college English courses. She has some great memory tricks to remember grammar rules. One of my favorites was her tip for remembering when to use "whom."

It's a simple memory trick-- we'll call it the "him-lich" maneuver. It's as easy as testing your sentence with the word him: if you can hypothetically answer your question with the word him, you need a whom.
Here's an example: who/whom do you love? Imagine a guy you love-- your father, your boyfriend, Chef Boyardee. I'm not here to judge you. The answer to the question Who/whom do you love? would be "I love him." You've got a him, so the answer is whom: whom do you love?

You'd be surprised how often I've thought of that trick since I first read it. It's quite handy.

The whole book is full of useful grammar advice and tips, and it's really a fun read. I highly recommend it to everyone. The copy I read came from the library, so sadly I'll have to return it, but I've added it to my Amazon wishlist. I'm hoping someone will buy it for me for Christmas so I can have a copy at hand for all those times I need an answer to a grammar problem.