Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage
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Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  86 ratings  ·  10 reviews
A handy guide to problems of confused or disputed usage.
- More than 2,000 entires
- Based on the critically acclaimed Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage
- Explains the background and basis of usage controversies
- Offers expert advice and recommendations
Paperback, 800 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Merriam-Webster (first published November 1st 1994)
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Rick Bavera
I am fascinated with and by words.

Because of that, I found this book to be a useful dictionary, covering words from a/an and abbreviations to zoom, and the "problems" or differences that may arise in usage for those whose job is working with words.

There is also a short ("brief" in the words of the dictionary) history of the English language, a pronunciation guide, and a bibliography of source materials for the advice given in the body of the dictionary.
Jul 16, 2007 Ben rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
I would recommend this book to anyone who does a lot of writing. It has excellent, well-researched advice on the proper usage of a number of English words and phrases. It is very "descriptivist" -- that is, rather than simply deferring to an expert's opinion, the researchers actually search through numerous archives of English literature, journalism, etc, as well as other usage guides to formulate their recommendations.
How could I not love a book that answers my most burning usage questions and also helps me win arguments? (I usually have to just make-believe an opponent for these arguments because all the real people are afraid to fight with me about this stuff, but it still gives me a great sense of triumph when I win--which I ALWAYS do!)
This is not the best usage guide ever, but it is a good one. Many an argument was settled with this book. Frankly, anyone who fancies himself a wordsmith better know what's included here. All basic and straightforward but necessary nonetheless.
This usage dictionary is vital for any writer, editor or English lover in general. It has great histories and explanations of many common dilemmas and usage questions we face.
See the entries for who/whom and farther/further.
The sine qua non of English usage reference. There is an exemplary reliance on evidence (with plenty of supporting quotations), rather than the usual intellectually trivial acceptance of received rules.
Overall the best (most thorough) usage guide available. MWDEU is not so much a quick reference but rather a guide for self-study and settling those seemingly intractable issues of English usage.
If you aren't familiar with this book (which, BTW, is quite droll), there's a very high probability that you are the under the sway of some very priggish ideas about English usage. Free yer mind.
Kate McClare
Jun 25, 2012 Kate McClare rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers of all levels
Shelves: writing-guides
An indispensable arbiter of proper English, filled with revealing insights on how our language came to its present state.
I originally read this book for fun and education. I keep it on hand for a reference.
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