A classic since its first edition in 1966, Modern American Usage has been called a book that “every literate American ought to read.” Now fully revised and brought up-to-date, this one-volume course in good writing brims with helpful answers—large and small—for readers who want to use English clearly, naturally, and correctly.
Alphabetical for easy consulting (and full of cross-references), the book carries the reader to the entry that explains a troublesome word or phrase—and shows how to use or avoid it. Every page offers natural ways to avoid saying or writing the vague, the long-winded, the needlessly technical, and the hopelessly stale. With verve and eloquence, Erik Wensberg spears the empty words that clog clear thought—“impact,” “frustrated,” “basically,” and many more—and offers us good English words that are definite and have more life.
Offering standards by which to judge language now and in the future, Modern American Usage takes account of a generation of changes in American idiom and of attempts to reform the use of pronouns, titles, and phrases to fit shifting ideals of social justice. All this it does with easy learning and with sympathy alike for the experienced writer and for those who come new to American English.
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Erik Wensberg has worked as an editor at Esquire and The New York Times Book Review, and has taught nonfiction writing at Columbia University.
Nobody has discussed these matters with greater lucidity and concision (another linguistic virtue) than Wilson Follett.... You cannot read Modern American Usage in one or two sittings: This is a handbook to be perused for pleasure as well as instruction a few pages at a time, to be savored for its common sense and its many fine positive and negative examples. And, of course, to be consulted as the need arises. -- The Wall Street Journal, John Simon
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