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The Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doo

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  566 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
The well tempered sentence Book
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published June 1st 1983 by Ticknor & Fields (first published 1983)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,480)
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Kelly H. (Maybedog)
I read grammar and punctuation books every few years just to make sure I'm current and haven't taken up some weird habit without knowing it. So most books are a fast read for me and easy to understand. There are generally only a couple of places where I go, "oh, I didn't know that" or "oh, that's why that is." In this instance, while the idea of this book is entertaining, the execution is not so good because even I, in places, had to think twice before I understood an example.

The reason is that
...more
Seth T.
Mar 10, 2008 Seth T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who NEED to know how to properly ellipsize
I am not by any means a grammar-Nazi.

I do enjoy the use of language in ways that convey meaning and intent both clearly and beautifully, but I'm not gonna make a big deal when someone uses a hyphen instead of an en dash when they say they work 8–5. I just can't see getting upset about something like that. I may pick on poor word-choice occasionally and come off more prescriptivist when it comes to vocabulary—but that's really just when it suits my needs.

Still, as a not-small portion of my job i
...more
Matt
Nov 28, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The grammar of punctuation is delved into fairly thoroughly here with eloquent and entertaining example sentences. Gems such as "We gave ourselves over to an interregnum of discord, mockery, and delight" [The Serial Comma] and "There is always room for improvement; moreover, in this case that's all the room there is" [The Semicolon] make what is often treated as the drudgery of learning proper composition into a book that's hard to put down, as well as a handy reference for when you need to doub ...more
Clare Fitzgerald
May 09, 2016 Clare Fitzgerald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I've been doing a fair bit of reading on the gambling end of my current field, I've been pretty neglectful about keeping up on any sort of writing or editing-related reading. But it's been a full year since my last binge of editing books, so I did try to find the time to make sure I hadn't forgotten how punctuation works by zipping through Karen Elizabeth Gordon's The New Well Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed. Gordon is also the author ...more
Terry
Mar 08, 2015 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fitting companion volume to The Deluxe Transitive Vampire. Gordon uses her extensive knowledge of punctuation, leavened with her whimsical, imaginative style to give slashes, dots, dashes, and exclamation points more personality than characters in many of the novels I have read. The explanations are memorable ("A tilted perpendicular, an ambivalent floorwalker, the slash/virgule/bar/separatrix offers alternatives, and when needed accompanies coordinate conjunctions as their chaperone.") and th ...more
Frances Sawaya
May 03, 2016 Frances Sawaya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-our-library
Actually, I can't say that I have read this cover to cover, "per se." I have had it on my bookshelf for decades to use as a reference and, sometimes, to prove a point when I am confronted with glaring errors in English. Love the humor enclosed!
Gen
Aug 05, 2013 Gen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty great guide with amusing examples.
Jason Kirk
Feb 09, 2014 Jason Kirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite grammar book, bar none. Nothing else comes close. "A Punctuation Handbook" in name, The Well-Tempered Sentence -- originally published in 1983 -- also serves as a buffet of often hilarious and always craftily constructed examples of what has come to be called microfiction (or, if you prefer, "The Evolution of the Short Story in the Internet Age").

The book is a must-have for writers in English, a keen choice to leave laying around the bathroom for guests, and a great gift fo
...more
Annette
Jul 23, 2013 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Source: Self purchased.

Summary:

Gordon's book, The New Well-Tempered Sentence is unique, with edgy illustrations and a coquette style of writing. Gordon makes learning punctuation fun. Can punctuation be fun? Yes, with the right teacher. Karen Gordon breaks up the monotony of learning with unique drawings and dry humor. Punctuation is divided into chapters: exclamation point, question mark, period, comma, semicolon, colon, hyphen, dash, italics, parentheses, brackets, slash, and the apostrophe.

M
...more
C.M.J. Wallace
Sep 29, 2013 C.M.J. Wallace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, reference
What kind of freak reads a punctuation handbook for pleasure? Well, I do (blush).

But The New Well-Tempered Sentence is not a dry treatise on the do’s and don’ts of writing. Consider the subtitle: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed. How could you resist the urge to peek at a book with such a puckish name?

The illustrations are excellent and add to the ambience of the book’s many crazed and silly examples; to wit, when the author expounds on the question mark, one of
...more
Andy
Oct 07, 2014 Andy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
I read the first few chapters of this book and then returned it to the library. It wasn't what I was looking for. I was looking for a quick reminder on rules of punctuation. This book was helpful, and at times very funny, but it was also a bit verbose and salacious. (Yes, salacious, as odd as that sounds.) If you like really off the wall stuff, you'd enjoy this book. If you're looking for a quick primer on punctuation, you may want to look elsewhere.
S. Nikolova
Apr 10, 2013 S. Nikolova rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been meaning to read this book for almost 10 years and finally got around to it. After all, everyone can use a refresher on punctuation rules, right? “The New Well-Tempered Sentence” ended up being a really quick read that was as entertaining as educational. I thoroughly enjoyed – chuckled out loud at times – the examples used to demonstrate the rules. Here is a taste of what to expect:

“Which is the hand to kiss?”/“The hand to kiss is the one you’ve frightened away.” (Quotation marks)

The
...more
Emily
Aug 06, 2015 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book tries very hard to be funny and informative but fell flat for me. By the title I was hoping for musical allusions throughout, but it is just a title aimed at being funny. I much prefer Eats, Shoots and Leaves if you are looking for a funny grammar book. Or The Glamour of Grammar for more serious enjoyment.
Rena Sherwood
Dec 10, 2014 Rena Sherwood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was the best book about punctuation out until the publication of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves".
Bill
May 28, 2016 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author knows her punctuation. Her examples are goth or surrealistic sentences which at first I found amusing but soon found annoying so if oddity keeps your attention and keeps you amused read this book, if this is not your cup of tea, then learn punctuation elsewhere.
Wilbur
Jan 30, 2015 Wilbur rated it really liked it
"Om, Om on the Range: Cowboys and Meditation". LOL
Gwyn
Jul 24, 2011 Gwyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The New Well-Tempered Sentence is an excellent punctuation guide for those who really need it (or even those who only need it a little). With whimsical sketches and even more whimsical examples, it takes you chapter by chapter through the exclamation, the period, the comma, the semicolon, and all the other marks you need to build a sentence. The explanations, organized into bullet points followed by examples, are very clear. This might not be the best punctuation guide I have even seen, but it i ...more
Jim
Mar 12, 2014 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this on recommendation from my partner who used this in his classes when he taught English courses at the university level. It's not a hard read, for a book about punctuation; but, it suffers from examples that tend to be a little too playfully snooty. I found myself focusing more on the ridiculous passages than the punctuation and style choices in some of them - but I understand the author's attempt to keep it interesting. Best read slowly and in many sessions to avoid passive reading.
Vincent
Oct 02, 2014 Vincent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What was I doing reading this at 11:12 PM on the Red Line riding from the far north side to downtown Chicago? I was listening to a stranger, cellphone stuck to his head, use the worst English I've ever heard. This is what we call a perfect moment.
Meg
The example sentences in this book are raucous, strange, and wonderful. I can't say the book taught me much about grammar; I enthralled by the examples, but I typically flew past the instructional material. I'm pleased to learn the author had some fiction I can attack. As a grammar book, this isn't the best teacher, but as a source of entertainment it's quite lovely.
Firefly
Feb 03, 2008 Firefly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a wonderful, creative reference book for any writer ... whether you are professional or not. Even if all you do is write letters or emails, this is a great book to have on hand. Her approach to inspired writing is completely engaging.
Nikki
(Shelf-Clearing Project Reference Book). A charming and exhaustive guide to punctuation, illustrated with amusing sentences and archival black-and-white pictures. Ms. Gordon endorses the Oxford Comma, so this one is definitely a keeper.
Carolee Noury
Feb 26, 2015 Carolee Noury rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite possibly the most fun punctuation lesson ever. This book is full of delightful examples of the rules. The sentences are beautiful, hysterical, and mind-bending. Want a fun reference book? Look no further.
Alisha Erin
Apr 13, 2012 Alisha Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I haven't read anything this fabulous in ages. Everyone should read this and anyone with any interest at all in language will LOVE it. Hilarious AND educational!
Katie Bullock
Hardly what most would put on a "must-read" list, but I learned some new stuff. I like to keep my hand in. Keep it real.
Megan Carpenter
Mar 07, 2011 Megan Carpenter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great refresher or introduction to punctuation. The way Ms. Gordon writes made grammar fun to learn and read about.
Linda
Dec 31, 2007 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: word geeks, anyone in seventh grade English class
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
Dear Ms. Gordon, where were you when I was in high school? Why couldn't my textbooks have been more like this?
TJ Wilson
May 17, 2014 TJ Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quick, easy, and helpful. Most importantly, the examples aren't made by unoriginal grammar mavins.
Janeen
Dec 05, 2008 Janeen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title alone earns it a few stars. Some of the text is overly silly and confusing though.
Charles
Oct 22, 2008 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I have an earlier edition. A lot of fun. And educational. Gordon writes very well.
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Karen Elizabeth Gordon, who is most well-known for her comic language handbooks The New Well-Tempered Sentence and The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, is also author to a collection of short stories published by Dalkey Archive Press. The Red Shoes and Other Tattered Tales was hailed by many critics as Rabelaisian in its humor.

Gordon resides alternately in Berkeley, California and Paris.

from http://www.
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