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Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  207 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
This book is for people who experience heartbreak over love notes with subject-verb disagreements...for anyone who's ever considered hanging up the phone on people who pepper their speech with such gems as "irregardless," "expresso," or "disorientated"...and for the earnest souls who wonder if it's "Woe is Me," or "Woe is I," or even "Woe am I."

Martha Brockenbrough's Thing
ebook, 272 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by St. Martin's Press
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(showing 1-30 of 695)
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Like a one-woman vigilante, Martha Brockenbrough* exposes assorted crimes against the English language and offers crisp, witty advice on spelling, grammar, and usage to the offenders. Her favored tactic is the open letter, wherein she points out the mistakes in (gently) mocking fashion, then goes on to suggest remedies. All with infinitely greater wit than that bore Lynne Truss, in this reviewer's opinion.

Her point of view is stated with admirable clarity on page 3:

"It is time for those of us wh
Lady Jane
Jul 18, 2015 Lady Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoyed Martha Brockenbrough's work on MSN Encarta, but I enjoyed Things That Make Us [Sic] even more. This is not only because it reinforces everything one already knows about the English language, but also because it reminds us of lessons one may have forgotten since grammar school. Martha Brockenbrough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, covers many topics, including punctuation, irregular syntax in meme culture, jargon, cliches, parts of speech, pop star and s ...more
Dec 03, 2008 Courtney added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Courtney by: Little Willow
Shelves: 2008
The things I didn't know! They filled this whole book!

So I'll admit it: I prickled a little at the letter to the Leafs, even though they aren't even my team, for I am a sensitive Canadian. Luckily Martha Brockenbrough's snarky passion for grammar and language helped me get over it fast. What a great and informative book this was! Never overwhelming and always funny, Brockenbrough's dedication and enthusiasm for the subject is impressive and important--it's like the difference between having a te
I actually REALLY enjoyed this book. Yes, it was an adult-ish book. It was also a nonfiction bok. I'm really lucky that grammar has always come really naturally to me as an English first language speaker, but I loved that this elaborated on that and explained things I never knew I never knew. Some of the list parts, particularly in the Vizzini chapter were really boring to me, but apart from this I was entertained and informed by the things that make us [sic].
So I have this thing where when I l
Audrie Weston
If you usually cringe when you hear somebody say 'expresso' instead of espresso, or feel your heart skip a beat when somebody else uses the term 'affect' or 'effect' correctly, then this book is definitely for you. The letters to celebrities will make you laugh, cry, and sometimes scratch your head in profound puzzlement. The novelty wears off in a surprisingly amount of time, and the pages and pages about grammar are often repetitive.
Carolyn James
Jul 26, 2015 Carolyn James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
As a teacher, I know it's pretty hard to make Grammar an engaging subject to teach for twenty minutes, so I wasn't sure how I'd fair reading a whole novel on it. I read this book to help improve my own grammar skills to better teach my students. My background on grammar has pretty much been a "monkey see, monkey do" kind of approach. I could read a sentence and know when it felt wrong, but I couldn't name to you all the specific reasons and proper names of why. Since I have begun teaching ESL st ...more
Jan 27, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book. I love grammar. I just love it. So shouldn't I love the person who founded National Grammar Day and SPOGG?

To be frank, she began to grate on my nerves. This book has been compared to Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, but I find Truss's book a million times more endearing. I feel like Martha Brockenbrough isn't on my side--like she's criticizing my grammar with a gleeful [sic]. Though I learned some pretty helpful things reading this book (and there
May 05, 2009 Sally rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this book a combination of 5 stars (for wit) and 2 stars (for juvenile "humor")

Holy Cow, this book is vulgar! I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't the picking apart of adult product spam email grammar! There's just no reason that this book had to so frequently focus on juvenile, crude material. The world is full enough of grammar-phobes without using the words, well, I won't subject you to that. Suffice to say that page one gets us off to a PG-13 start, and rarel
At the close of this fine, often hilarious primer on grammar, the author notes that "People who buy grammar books don't usually need them, except to slam down upon the heads of others," and that's true—the people who have the most to learn don't bother reading, let alone reading grammar books.

But if they did, this is one I'd put into their hands. A far better book than the inconsistent, mistake-riddled Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (see Louis Menand rip it into tiny little pieces here
Ryan Dejonghe
Mar 10, 2014 Ryan Dejonghe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like hamburgers and I now like grammar. I have always loved hamburgers, but not so much grammar. Hamburgers, at least good ones, are juicy and delicious. Grammar, was for me, dry and boring. Now that I’m older, my hips are wider and my writing, thin. So what is an overweight reader to do? Eat less burgers and consume more grammar. (Yeah, this is bad, but dinner is coming up and it’s the best I’ve got.)

To get to the point, I’ve been on a quest to consume delicious books on grammar. Hold the pom
Nov 18, 2009 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really, 4 1/2 stars. I am nervous to write a review for this book because I am sure I will make some sort of grammatical error, thus demonstrating that I didn't learn ANYTHING. I thought this book was fabulous -- everything a grammar-loving nerd could want. If you consider yourself somewhat proficient in grammar (ahem), you will enjoy smiling with smug satisfaction every time the author addresses a grammar faux pas that bothers you too. I actually applauded when she ranted about those signs peop ...more
Apr 07, 2009 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: grammar geeks
I probably would have liked this book better if I hadn't already read and loved Eats, Shoots & Leaves first and if it didn't contain several errors. Errors happen in books; I understand that. But in a book about grammar and style, it's hard to not find typos a bit jarring.

Overall, this book was enjoyable and fairly informative. The letters to celebrity grammar offenders were the book's highlights. The organization is a bit confusing at times and certain sections could have been shortened or
Feb 17, 2009 Helene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grammar lovers
Recommended to Helene by: Goodreads
Hilarious and informative book all about grammar and the strange/amusing/dumb/etc. mistakes that people of all walks of life make. Actually, the book helped me figure out a few things that I need to improve upon in my vocabulary/grammar...such as cutting flabby words! Brockenbrough's humor is very witty; the book was easy to read and convenient to carry around on my bus rides.

However, as time passes by, the references in the book may become outdated/pertain to only a certain age group/generatio
Michelle Cristiani
Jun 29, 2012 Michelle Cristiani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I loved this book. You know, it's really hard to write a book that's funny but doesn't try too hard. Brockenbrough pulls it off. She is a smart writer, all around. I learned a few things too, which for me as a teacher of grammar is a lot of fun.

Why don't I give it 5 stars? Well, it was published in 2008, which means it was written just before 2008, and there are a couple of political references in here which turn me off. They aren't many, and they aren't (too) overt, but they're enough that I w
Blair Conrad
Jan 05, 2010 Blair Conrad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First off, there were a few more spelling/grammatical/copyediting errors than I’d’ve hoped in such a work. Worse, some came along fairly early, before the author had built up any karma.

That being said, overall the book is entertaining, educational, and funny. There are a few sections that devolve into laundry lists of terms or rules, but for the most part, the knowledge imparted is interesting. I enjoyed the letters that SPOGG has sent out to various personalities (including Her Royal Majesty Qu
Steve Whiting
What sounded like a humorous take on the media actually turns out to be a good English textbook, slightly leavened by mild (attempts at) humour.

The guidance on usage of (American) English is good, but really of interest only to those looking to brush up their grammatical skills - a rather dry read, otherwise.
Harish Puvvula
"People who actually speak plainly are the language masters, so skilled that their meaning is transparent without the use of long words, misleading jargon, or convoluted clauses" — Martha Brockenbrough.

Livelier and less pedantic than Eats, Shoots and Leaves
Brian Sison
Nov 14, 2009 Brian Sison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
An American, more vulgar, more sarcastic version of Eats, Shoots & Leaves The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. This is another book dedicated to people that cringe whenever they see signs such as, "Smile, your on camera."

The author highlights big offenders in grammar, including Viagra Spam emails, sex-texting politicians, and back-country store owners everywhere.

The second half of the book is a very handy reference book for anyone that writes in the English lanuage on a regular basis
Richard Martin
Another in the current plethora of grammar books. The letters from The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar are the book's highlight. Brokenbrough does a nice job of providing historical background to grammar "rules" and marks of punctuation including the interrobang (an exclamation point on top of a question mark for questions with emphasis.). She also provides "Clip and Send" letters for the reader's use. I dint reed the grammer sections 'cause I new most of that stuff allready.
If anyone still teaches grammar in the classroom, this would be good source material. Brockenbrough brings nice humor to a potentially dull subject, but she's absolutely right when she says no one who voluntarily reads a book on grammar truly needs it. I knew most of this stuff before (though I don't always remember to apply it), but she does write engagingly. My big gripe is that she does not address the President's Day/Presidents' Day controversy (yes, it still bothers me!), which is all I rea ...more
Grace Lee
Mar 29, 2016 Grace Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading the book and found the examples hilarious. I especially enjoyed the references to 80s t.v. shows.
I did notice a mistake on my edition on page 92 - it should be "German Shepherds" and not "Germam, Shepherds."
"People who buy grammar books usually don't need them..."

The above is quoted from this book and is also the strongest argument I can make against reading it.

It's an unusual creature. As a reference book it contains too much 'fluff' and as a leisure read it contains too much reference material. On the whole, I did enjoy it but I suspect I'm one of the few.

If you find yourself with a little free time and wish your grammar was little stronger, or just want a laugh how bad some others are, you could
Jun 03, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A humorous -- yet serious -- brush-up even a professional could love.
Jul 10, 2009 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rick Sorge, writer's group
Recommended to Linda by: Grammar Girl
Shelves: ill-chcpl
A funny yet enlightening book which deftly explains some of the confusing words, phrases, and punctuation dilemmas of the English language. The author is the founder of TSPOGG (The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar - and PLEASE don't misspell that last word). Brockenbrough writes letters to people who offend her - grammatically speaking. She includes copies of her letters in the book. She even includes the response she received after writing to Queen Elizabeth II. Whether you know gramma ...more
Apr 08, 2015 Victoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
If you're one of the crazy people who find errors in your everyday travels i.e. the following:
+ Martini's = $3.00,
+ Manager's find they're not using there talents wisely,
+ I am over hear
+ ...and any other misspellings, not typos...especially when used on
menus, signs or any advertising

then this book is for you. I don't mean to be a nitpicker, but these errors just drive me bonkers and they just leap out from wherever they have been placed.

NOTE: any errors above are intentional...just to see if
I really enjoyed this book. It was straightforward and entertaining. It's a book about grammar in the same vein as Eats Shoots Leaves. Among other things the book contains letters from SPOGG (The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar) to various grammar offenders including several musicians and politicians. She also imagines at least one celebrity in grammar rehab which was quite amusing.
Things That Make Us [Sic:], besides having an awesome title, is a book about grammar and punctuation in the real world. Brockenbrough lays out the fundamental rules of grammar and punctuation in an easy-to-understand way and throws in a few references to Princess Bride and lesser pop culture, too. So if, say, you have no idea what a comma splice is or whether to insure or ensure, you can read this book and find out.
Apr 05, 2012 Marisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Half of this book is commentary on the grammar problems of our society. That's what I expected to be in this book. I enjoyed her commentary, as I enjoy it in her column(s?).

The other half of this book is How To Use Proper Grammar. I may have learned one or two things, but most of it was so basic that it made the book a chore to read.

The people that need the textbook half won't get the commentary. The people that are educated enough to enjoy the commentary don't need the textbook half. It probab
Jan 17, 2011 Crystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I laughed out loud on the bus and the train - three different times. The train is okay, but there is a much higher probability of knowing people on the bus - but still, there's some funny stuff in here. The only thing I didn't like was some of the editing errors - while we may forgive a slip-up in the New York Times every now and then, it is less forgivable in a book ostensibly about correct grammar. Still, I would be proud to be a member of SPOGG!
Jul 23, 2009 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: group-reads
“The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, The White House, and the world.” A lighthearted poke at grammar mistakes and how to correct them, this book is an informative read as well as a fun one. It does allow readers to use some less formal grammar that may be technically incorrect but sounds less pompous than the correct grammar. If you don't know how to speak proper no more, this is a good refresher.
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Martha Brockenbrough is author of The Game of Love and Death, Finding Bigfoot, The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy, and Devine Intervention, books for young readers. For adults, she has written Things That Make Us [Sic], a hilarious guide to things that can go wrong with English, and It Could Happen to You, a diary of her first pregnancy. She's the founder of National Grammar Day and SPOGG, the Society for t ...more
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