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The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  710 Ratings  ·  137 Reviews
Early in the history of English, the words "grammar" and "glamour" meant the same thing: the power to charm. Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools, aims to put the glamour back in grammar with this fun, engaging alternative to stuffy instructionals. In this practical guide, readers will learn everything from the different parts of speech to why effective writers prefer ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 16th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company (first published July 22nd 2010)
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The Name of This Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous BoschSimple and Direct by Jacques BarzunScepticism Inc by Bo FowlerWhen You Catch an Adjective, Kill It by Ben YagodaHow Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
Cover Art Punctuation
6th out of 49 books — 10 voters
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne TrussThe Copyeditor's Handbook by Amy EinsohnThe Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.The Chicago Manual of Style by University of Chicago PressGrammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty
Best Books for Editors
7th out of 76 books — 29 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,692)
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Mar 09, 2011 Steven rated it really liked it
Shelves: language
I chose to read this book because I thought my writing had been getting stale and slovenly of late. I halfway expected the dry, academic approach to what works and what doesn't work writing-wise -- a kind of modern day Strunk & White. One topic he doesn't cover is clichés, so I feel I can describe Clark's book as a "delightful romp?" There, I did it.

The books is composed of 50 mini-lessons on the effective usage of language, most of them 2-3 pages long, grouped into various categories, from
Aug 27, 2010 Sheila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
So, what do you think about when you hear the word “grammar”? As a kid, I would think “Uh oh; I guess I wrote something wrong again.” As a young adult I’d say, “Hey, that’s just the way I speak.” As an Englishwoman moving to America I’d groan that it’s not just the spellings that are different here but the grammar rules as well. And after reading this book I’d say, “Wow!”

So, what about my punctuation above? Why did I put that question mark outside the quotes when the exclamation point went insid
Feb 25, 2012 Alexandria rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers
Recommended to Alexandria by: N/A
Yes, I read a book about grammar, that magical glue that ties together our thoughts and ideas and helps us communicate with one another. And yes, I liked it.

Roy Peter Clark, longtime teacher at the Poynter Institute, is funny, down-to-earth (he even uses the f-word) and easy to understand. The full title of this book is, "The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English," and Clark's enthusiasm for the English language is inspiring.

I picked up this book after a par
Arghya Dutta
I like to read grammar books mainly for two reasons: I love reading books about languages and it refreshes the basics. This book serves both purposes - it is well-written, fun to read, and informative. The summary sections, provided at the end of each chapter, are specially useful. Recommended.
Jun 06, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it
What a superb book on grammar! Not only because of its clear and concise explanation of some baffling, confusing concepts, but also because of really engaging writing. A grammar book written by someone in love with language, rather than by someone who has his or her nickers in a twist over the rules. Love.
May 09, 2011 Stewart rated it liked it
Roy Peter Clark is a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute in Florida and has been a writing coach for many of his adult years. His 2010 book "The Glamour of Grammar" looks at parts of speech, punctuation, verb tenses, and other aspects of English language grammar. There was not much new for me in the book, but it is good to periodically get a refresher course in the basics of writing.
One chapter tackles the issue of using a serial comma, of writing "red, white, and blue" or "red, white and
Bob Nichols
Jun 11, 2013 Bob Nichols rated it did not like it
As with his "Writing Tools" book, Clark gives fifty suggestions on writing and reiterates what can be found in a high school English text. At the end of each chapter Clark summarizes. The reader can skip the text, read the summaries and do fine. The title of the book is overdone. It's about practical English. Glamour and magic and mystery oversell what Clark puts forward.

Clark's chapters on tenses and connotation/denotation are good. The chapter on "To be" is disappointing. The author reminds us
Literary Mama
For all its wisdom, this is not simply a serious book of punctuation. Clark infuses The Glamour of Grammar with wit, making each lesson both intriguing and fun. The chapter on question marks, for example, begins: "In my senior year in high school, 1966, I played the keyboard in a garage band called T.S. and the Eliots." He goes on to describe a music mentor oddly named "?" and then asserts, "The question mark, used well, may be the most profoundly human form of punctuation. Unlike the other mark ...more
Mar 31, 2014 Lori rated it it was amazing
I am not a writer. What I do write is unequivocally mediocre. At best. Roy Peter Clark is a writer. The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English is Clark's love song to the English language and the art of writing. It is pithy. It is clear. And it is hysterically funny. Reading this book from cover to literal cover demonstrates my utter nerdiness.
Oct 04, 2010 Jan rated it liked it
I heard the author in an interview on NPR and went right out and got this book on GRAMMAR! The English language is fascinating and this book delves into some of the mechanics that make it that way. Organized into fifty short chapters on Words, Points, Standards, Meaning and Purpose with usage examples and Keepsakes (key points) outlined at the end. The author makes the subject very interesting and entertaining and I really enjoyed this book- now if I can just remember what I learned and put it t ...more
Sep 10, 2014 Shawn rated it really liked it
Hate grammar? Well, maybe you hate the way you were taught in school. For a refreshing, and often funny, look at how grammar is used in the real world, check out Roy Peter Clark's The Grammar of Glamour. Throughout the book, Clark delves into a dizzying array of concepts, starting at the smallest units of language -- letters, words, and punctuation -- and moving to the nuances of meaning and purpose in writing.

This is an excellent read, suitable for journalists, teachers and budding writers (eve
Apr 04, 2015 Sal rated it really liked it
While I progress through Roy Peter Clark’s The Glamour of Grammar, I find myself struck by a few different thoughts. First and foremost, i’d like to say that Clark’s book is not a grammar manual. Instead, Clark discusses a variety of ideas regarding written English, covering everything from using “the period to determine emphasis and space” to things like irony and different standards. Through the five sections (Words, Points, Standards, Meanings, and Purpose), Clark covers a lot of ground, and ...more
Mar 18, 2014 David rated it it was ok
Shelves: language
I enjoy reading books about language, grammar, punctuation…even diagramming sentences (loved “Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog”), so I was disappointed that I didn’t like this book more.

I very much appreciate the author’s assertion that grammar isn’t, or shouldn’t be, all about fussy rules, and the 50 lessons he offers are (for the most part) clear and useful. But the writing was pretty uneven. I lost count of how many times he mentioned an interesting fact only to change directions unexpectedly
Ad Chopper
Jul 24, 2014 Ad Chopper rated it liked it
Good overall. An interesting look at a generally boring topic. Some interesting chapters where author talks about how words can stimulate senses (smell the word pungent, taste Honeycone, touch sandpaper), letters conveying feelings (Z at the beginning is fun: zany, zoo, Zoro, zippy, zilch. but in the middle means trouble: Nazi, lazy, uzi, crazy.) Finally some good points about having favorites (Study the masters, learn to appreciate their creative gifts they offer you, but don't turn them into i ...more
Oct 29, 2015 Eleanor rated it really liked it
Interesting - very much American grammar which differs in a number of ways from Australian and English. However, a good refresher course for those who have been on automatic for years and years. A lot of the time I did not really appreciate his sense of humour - I found it quite annoying.
Sean Cameron
Oct 10, 2014 Sean Cameron rated it really liked it
This book both clarifies the rules of grammar and gives a sense of freedom to pick and choose what best serves your writing. It's not a strict teacher but a friend who wants to hold your hand and show you what they love about writing and being understood.
Jan 10, 2016 Nessreen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
A must-read for writers and editors, especially if your last foray into English grammar was in high school. It's written in a way that makes it easy for you not only to understand grammar rules (transitive/intransitive verbs, dangling modifiers, past participles, passive and active voices, split infinitives) but to also to use them effectively in writing. It also touches on the topics that assholes (who lovingly call themselves grammar nazis) like to argue about – who vs whom, I vs me, etc – and ...more
Jun 19, 2014 Tamara rated it really liked it
Overall, interesting, entertaining, practical. I thought he was a little fond of "shocking" his reader with the f-word and a little too protective of our Dear Leader. (I wrote him an e-mail on that one, he responded. It was fun.) But mostly I really liked the book and might buy a copy for a guide and reference.

Some favorites:

You don't need to be a nerd to learn how to spell a word. It's not magic. Look it up.

An expert advises against using complex sentences. "If by complex he means 'so complica
Jul 25, 2014 Nicole rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Clark has a clear love of grammar—to use a phrase in his book, he "lives in the English language". A lot of the later chapters in this book were great, and the Keepsakes at the end of each chapter are helpful. Almost every part of the "MEANING" section and a good portion of the "PURPOSE" section really get into some great use of language and how to play with language for effect. Chapter 47 about concrete and abstract language, and how there is a "ladder of abstraction", made me realize how much ...more
Steele Dimmock
Apr 29, 2014 Steele Dimmock rated it liked it
A fairly light-hearted trip through proper English grammar. I enjoyed the start and finding out about words like Taser, Boycott and Schadenfreude. But about half way through I caught myself thinking "Why am I reading this?" I persevered, however the second half of the book does feel a little drawn out without the same punchy-ness of the first half.

Overall, this book wasn't mesmerising, but was charming in it's own way. Going through elements of English, piece by piece, with the author offering h
Ella Stettner
Oct 22, 2015 Ella Stettner rated it really liked it
This book is a book about grammar for a wide range of people – from the ones who love grammar (like me) to the ones who are self-proclaimed haters. I reveled in every bit of it. There were so many things I learned from it, but the book was also a good refresher for some of the grammar bits I forgot. I think I enjoyed it more than Writing Tools because it seemed a lot more laid back for some reason. Some of the chapters seemed more random, which I liked – it was just much more interesting to read ...more
Dec 08, 2014 Camilla rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book but I think it was written for a different audience. It may also be my fault since my expectations were different from what the book delivered. I was hoping for a Lynn Truss-like book about rules of grammar and language that are a little unusual or unheard of. I was hoping to be edified and perhaps amused by light-hearted humor. The author did attempt some humor but I think you might need to be a middle-aged man to really enjoy his jokes. And he doesn't even lik ...more
Jennifer Defoy
May 22, 2011 Jennifer Defoy rated it really liked it
What I liked the most about this book is that it wasn't written like a grammar book. It was written more like a story that had grammar tips added into it. It was kind of like a copy of Writer's Inc. with a story behind it. And while I'd never get rid of my copy of Writer's Inc. I think this will make a nice addition to my grammar tools arsenal.

I have to admit that I'm not the best grammatical writer. I don't remember most of the rules I learned in school (frankly I didn't care to really remembe
Jun 30, 2010 Jules rated it really liked it
I found this to be an engaging and helpful book. Many times these guides can be rather dry and boring. Not so with this one. Mr. Clark has created an easy to follow guide through this mysterious language of ours. While this could be classified as a reference or "how-to" book, I felt it was primarily a "great read" that was actually fun.

The author is a big advocate of using the dictionary and immersing yourself in the words. He is obviously a master when it comes to both the construction and diss
Sep 20, 2012 Abbe added it
Shelves: in-library
From Publishers Weekly

Grammar is a subject that typically induces wincing, wheezing, or worse. Clark, a lifelong whiz at the subject, wants readers to fully appreciate the importance of good grammar and the qualities of superior writing. To that end, he has laid out several entertaining, easy-to-follow rules, governing everything from punctuation to alliteration, that promise to dramatically improve one's writing and develop an appreciation for language. Clark draws on examples ranging from De

Aug 22, 2010 Noni rated it it was amazing
I received this book as part of the First Reads and to be honest rather dreaded turning to the first page. I was delightfully surprised to find that I had received a true gem by the time the last page was turned. The title has another blurb under it " A guide to the magic and mystery of practical English" and truer words were never spoken. The author is a true magician as he has taken what could have been a very dry subject and given readers a truly fascinating book that was difficult to put dow ...more
Jun 18, 2013 Peter rated it it was ok
I admit it. I love grammar. I love to read books on grammar, punctuation, style, writing - you name it. In fact, when I was younger I thought it was fun to guess which word would follow another in a dictionary (I still do sometimes.). I don't deny that Clark knows his stuff, but I feel like the book contains very little substance - and too much corny humor (the same kind that photography authors like to use. *sigh*). Each chapter contains a few bullet points for "takeaways", but the chapters the ...more
Aug 15, 2010 J R rated it it was amazing
I never realized that there was a possible link between the words glamour and grammar, but thanks to Roy Peter Clark, I am now well aware of the connection. Clark's The Glamour of Grammar is a book about language and grammar that should have a place in any writer, language lover or avid reader's personal library.

The Glamour of Grammar is unlike any grammar book that I have ever read, as it is not only about rules and proper English. In the Glamour of Grammar Clark successfully attempts to convey
Sep 30, 2010 Peg rated it really liked it
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Book Calendar
Oct 24, 2010 Book Calendar rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing, grammar
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By many accounts, Roy Peter Clark is America’s writing coach, a teacher devoted to creating a nation of writers. A Google search on his name reveals an astonishing web of influence, not just in the United States, but also around the world. His work has erased many boundaries. A Ph.D. in medieval literature, he is widely considered one of the most influential writing teachers in the rough-and-tumbl ...more
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“The bridge between the words glamour and grammar is magic. According to the OED, glamour evolved through an ancient association between learning and enchantment.” 7 likes
“A teacher of mine once said there are no true synonyms.” 2 likes
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