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The King's English: A Guide to Modern Usage

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  347 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
A Parthian shot from one of the most important figures in post-war British fiction, The King's English is the late Kingsley Amis's last word on the state of the language. More frolicsome than Fowler's Modern Usage, lighter than the Oxford English Dictionary, and brimming with the strong opinions and razor-sharp wit that made Amis so popular--and so controversial--The King' ...more
Paperback, 270 pages
Published July 30th 1999 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 1996)
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Community Reviews

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Lee Broderick
I purchased the eBook version of this and now wish that I had bought an actual book.

At times polemical and curmudgeonly, at others showing a practical, common-sense approach to the English language this is always an entertainingly waspish, witty commentary on grammar, syntax, spelling and phraseology.

It can be read in one go quite comfortably. I had not realised before doing so, however, that it is structured under numerous sub-headings which make it quite appropriate to also be used as a refer
Louise Brown
May 01, 2007 Louise Brown rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: cynical grammatically snobbish chucklers
If you liked Lynn Truss then mature into this. Basically useful and hilarious, although smacks a little as a literary Mitsford in places. Outrageously funny e.g. his classification of anyone who pronounces words of French origin in a French accent (e.g. restaurant) officially a "wanker".
Dec 16, 2007 Trevor rated it really liked it
Shelves: language, reference
I'm about half way through - I should have finished it, but have been distracted with work that needed to be finished this weekend and other things getting in the way.

When Marx's wife, Jenny, died, it is said that he could not think about economic theory and revolutionary stuff and instead threw himself into mathematics for a while. I've been finding it comforting lately, while trying to distract myself, to read books on English usage. I've just finished going through Bryson's Mother Tongue agai
Mark Buchignani
Apr 30, 2014 Mark Buchignani rated it really liked it
In chess, as played by most everyone, one might argue that all moves are errors, some awful and obvious, others unnoticeable, except by masters or computers. The game is difficult to play well, impossible to play perfectly. The same could be said of writing – difficult to do well, impossible to do perfectly, as The King’s English reminds us on every page. To read this book is to encounter numerous examples of errors, some awful and obvious (or “deplorable” as Amis might, and frequently does, ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Monty rated it really liked it
One of the best things about this is Martin Amis's candid introduction to his father's book on language, details below:

'His paternal style, in the early years, can best be described as amiably minimalist – in other words, my mother did it all.'
'When I was 16 or 17, and started reading books for grown-ups, I became, in his eyes, worth talking to. And when, six or seven years later, I started using the English language in the literary pages of the newspapers, I became worth correcting.'

Link here -
Auden Granger
Mar 11, 2014 Auden Granger rated it really liked it
Dry and witty and a valuable reference, if a little outdated at points and more than vaguely sexist in some entries (see Womanese and others). While most of the grammar notes are usable for Americans, the pronunciation guides should probably be avoided if you're not from the UK.
Dec 22, 2007 Clint rated it it was ok
Kind of like his letters, this book was a big let down when I had an idea of how funny it was going to be. I thought it would be something like The Devil's Dictionary, but instead it more like an excuse to cut down tres and make paper for books.
Jun 02, 2012 Katheryn rated it it was amazing
Do you love English? Do you find the misuse of words and punctuation to be heinous offenses? Do you sometimes feel smug when you correct/ read the newspaper? If so, you will LOVE the Kings English!
Richard Thomas
Nov 24, 2014 Richard Thomas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english-usage
A good didactic guide to good English - my take is that if you don't know the rules of grammar and syntax then your writing reflect that lack. Nothing wrong with a smack of pedantry to keep us on the straight and narrow!
Mar 23, 2007 Richard rated it really liked it
An absolutely delightful guide to usage--you'll find at least one or two things you didn't previously know, but you'll really just enjoy his wit, and learning more about British English versus American English.
Nov 20, 2015 Hboyd rated it it was amazing
An interesting exploration of some of the finer points of English grammar. A little purist, although it remains amusing and informative.
Oct 09, 2014 Vic rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I listend on cd - back and forth to work. Most interesting grammar book I've ever "read". The "upperclass" british accent of the reader added that much more.
May 09, 2010 Se84 rated it really liked it
Good to have in the bathroom for quick trips. There's plenty to disagree with (or, more often, to think probably isn't so important as he makes out), but his reasoning is usually entertaining.
Jane Tatam
Jane Tatam rated it it was amazing
Mar 24, 2015
Laura Wigan
Laura Wigan rated it it was ok
Jul 16, 2014
Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Mar 06, 2012
Dec 23, 2009 Tara rated it it was amazing
Only Amis Senior can make grammar and usage this enjoyable.
Peter rated it really liked it
Jan 25, 2013
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Feb 04, 2013
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Nov 29, 2012
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Jul 22, 2016
Huw Turner
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Jul 11, 2011
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Jul 27, 2011
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Sir Kingsley William Amis, CBE, was an English novelist, poet, critic, and teacher. He wrote more than twenty novels, three collections of poetry, short stories, radio and television scripts, and books of social and literary criticism. He fathered the English novelist Martin Amis.

Kingsley Amis was born in Clapham, Wandsworth, Couty of London (now South London), England, the son of William Robert A
More about Kingsley Amis...

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“It is natural and harmless in English to use a preposition to end a sentence with.” 5 likes
“education is one thing and instruction, however worthy, necessary and incidentally or monetarily educative, another.” 3 likes
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