Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style” as Want to Read:
Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  690 ratings  ·  212 reviews
A witty, informative guide to writing "good English" from Random House's longtime copy chief and one of Twitter's leading enforcers of proper grammar--a twenty-first-century Elements of Style.

As authoritative as it is amusing, this book distills everything Benjamin Dreyer has learned from the hundreds of books he has copyedited, including works by Elizabeth Strout,
...more
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by Random House
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dreyer’s English, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Dreyer’s English

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  690 ratings  ·  212 reviews


Filter
 | 
Sort order
Julie Ehlers
As a copy editor myself and a big fan of Benjamin Dreyer's Twitter presence, I was dying to get my hands on this book, and it did not disappoint. Not only is this book funny and fun to read, it's so, so helpful for anyone seeking to improve their writing or editing skills. I've been in this business for nearly 25 years and didn't think I'd actually learn anything new from Dreyer's English, but I was astonished to realize there were a few things I'd been doing wrong all this time. Maybe that does ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you think I am not the kind of person to read a style guide, you are correct! I do not read them for fun or pleasure, and I try to avoid them even for professional growth. But I knew this one would be different as I've followed Dreyer on Twitter for several years (and he also follows me, full disclosure). I had enough of a hunch that it would be a true delight that I even read the AUDIOBOOK. Yes, that is correct. I read a style guide on audio. And I loved it.

The reason many of us hate style g
...more
Jeff Zentner
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What if I told you that there’s a style guide written in such an effervescent, wry, witty, engaging voice, that you would want to read it on the beach? What if I told you that it was so expertly written, you can’t help but be a better writer for having read it?

Dear reader, you are in luck. This is that magical book. This deserves a place next to Strunk & White on every shelf.
Rawan
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love books about books (Kory Stamper's Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries was one of my favorite books of 2017) and books about writing, so it's no surprise that when I saw the description for this book, I was incredibly excited to read it. A reference book by one of Twitter's leading language gurus? Right up my alley.

This is a handy little guide to writing that would make the perfect gift for any copy editor, grammarian, lover of language, or anybody who really just wants to impro
...more
Joe Gaspard
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Come for the text, but stay for the footnotes. This is a witty and informative guide to copy editing.

I might have thought that a copy editor would be hidebound, with a guide that tells you what is always right and what is always wrong. Dreyer is more open to what others might consider "wrong" (such as "liaise" as a verb), though he can still be very much peeved by "impact" used instead of "affect".

Grammar, punctuation, formatting, and word choice (did I mention that he's also a huge fan of the
...more
Olivia
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
How to use the English language properly, infused with a lot of humour, written by the copy chief of Random House.
Mal Warwick
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Quick quiz: How many of the following rules do you follow when you write?

Never begin a sentence with "and" or "but."
Never split an infinitive.Never end a sentence with a preposition.
Contractions aren't allowed in formal writing.
The passive voice is to be avoided.
Sentence fragments are bad.
A person must be a "who," not a "that."
"None" is singular and, dammit, only singular.
"Whether" must never be accompanied by "or not."
Never introduce a list with "like."

If you learned English many years ago, as
...more
Trin
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well! I have a new favorite grammar/style guide. Dreyer's English is friendly, approachable, amusing; I read it for fun -- yes, I am that person, no one is shocked -- but I think it would also be highly useful and useable. I love that Dreyer's approach to grammar is, like mine, self-taught and not terminology heavy, but rather based on rhythm, sound, and experience -- much, much more experience, in his case. There are things that still mess me up that he explains with great lucidity, and yet he ...more
Robin
This is the first book on grammar and style I've ever read cover to cover, and I found it informative and highly entertaining. I found myself laughing over Dreyer's snarky wit and his keen look at today's language "rules" had me taking notes. His writing style, use of footnotes, and snarky wit reminded me of Mary Roach's books and I believe Bill Bryson fans will also enjoy.

Everyone who does any writing (even if it's nothing but an annual holiday letter) should have a copy by their computer as th
...more
Kay (aka) Miss Bates
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve never read a writing style guide in my life. I once tried to read Strunk and White: ho-hum. ‘Sides, I thought S&T advocated a spare style and I happen to think that, except for tires in real life and heirs in romance, spares should be avoided at all costs. Instead, what I found in Dreyer’s was a fount of delight and—pah to erudition—pragmatic advice. His lessons stick: before writing this, I made sure I knew the difference between “font” and “fount”; between “practical” and “pragmatic” ...more
Mahin
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Whenever I speak with someone, I resist the compulsion to count his grammatical errors on one hand. I am that person who insists it's 'nauseated' not 'nauseous'. And I am that person who will tell you 'choate' and 'flammable' are major no-nos. In short, it may seem that someone who is a stickler for grammar and a self-professed Spelling Bee queen to buy a style guide; but I think it makes perfect sense. When one views a language as merely mathematical, as a list of dos and dont's, it can make on ...more
Bud Smith
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this. It’s written in the voice of Fraiser Crane’s little brother, Niles.
Victoria
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Thanks to Random House and Goodreads for the ARC of this upcoming title. I loved it! Witty and useful (I almost said very witty, but I’m trying to cull my use of that overused word, as recommended by the author). I plan on buying a hard copy on publication and adding it to my reference library but it’s much more than a reference book. Recommended for anyone who cares about words.
Liina Bachmann
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This is the only book you need to read to get rid of those high school nightmares of grammar jargon, exceptions to a rule (always!) and just any bad stylistic writing errors you're prone to. "Dreyer's English" will make you laugh out loud and make you curious about Shirley Jackson as well. Highly, highly recommended.
Ivan
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
Random House’s copy chief offers a witty guide to writing. Copyeditors are my favorite kind of curmudgeons.
Cynthia
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you’ve ever been a copy editor or if you have interest in “proper” writing, you will love this book.
Philipp
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you consider a future life as a scientist: One of the 'secrets' of life as a scientist, even as a STEM scientist, is that you will spend a large amount of your time writing. Not just writing down your experiments in your lab-book, but drafting and endlessly editing your papers, your book-chapters, your thes(i/e)s, and then later, endless grant applications. I'm currently writing an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) application, which is the one thing everyone goes for a few ...more
Jennifer
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, nonfiction
This was dropped in my Twitter timeline as part of the wonderful, year-end #libfaves18 thread (thank you, Robin, who was first to mention it). I first thought “I am NOT going to read a grammar book. Boring!” Then I started perusing the author’s Twitter account and I thought “Well, maybe I will. I like this guy’s humor.” Then the book popped up in my timeline again, randomly, and I spoke with the gal at work who collects the nonfiction. She put in a purchase request for me and I began the wait fo ...more
Sarahmarie Harwood
Possibly the best book on the English language

This is a rare gem: a book on correct use of the English language that is a delight to read. Mr. Dexter has a delightful sense of humor. I found myself laughing rather frequently from start to finish. His deft paraphrase of a quip from Dr. McCoy to Captain Kirk (on page 262 in the Kindle edition) is itself a gem.

The book's real strength is its accessible writing style. By striking a balance between stuffy erudition and informality, every point is eas
...more
Pamela
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I first met Benjamin at a dinner place with a large group of people and expected to be intimidated. We sat beside each other and he was perfectly lovely, discussing theatre productions and actors we admired in common. I was relieved by how easy he was to talk to and charmed by his warmth. The same is true of Dreyer’s English. Readers might expect to be intimidated by grammar rules in this book, but instead will be charmed by humor, clever ideas, little surprises, and personal to ...more
anna
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A treat for those who delight in words and arranging them well. I feel a kinship with someone who writes, as Dreyer does, "there's a certain tautness in slightly stilted prose that I find almost viscerally thrilling." Dreyer is witty and clever and takes equal aim at 45 and The New Yorker. (Okay, maybe a little more at 45.) He reminds us to not use quotation marks for emphasis because "that is why God invented italics." This is no dry grammar handbook. Dreyer is entertaining, engaging, funny, an ...more
Ashley Elliott
Did I just read a style guide on writing for fun? Yes! Did I enjoy it like a textbook on grammar? Yes! It’s fun but also full of grammar and rules so I don’t think this would be for everybody. There are fun witticisms along with the rules and stories of copy editing through the 90s to now so it’s kind of got a memoir feel but it’s mostly grammar.
LeeAnne
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. I'm going to read it again and refer to it over and over and over. I'm going to recommend it to all of my friends. Dreyer is witty and funny and kind. Definitely a book for the keeper shelf.
Susan
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What kind of nut finds a grammar book thrilling and page-turning? Me. This nut. I am now an avowed Dreyerist.
Ivan
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: language
The state of our language, and its shepherds, in 2019.
Tanya Gold
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of the books that I wish I'd had when I first started copyediting.
Moira Burke
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended. It even works as an audiobook, the author voicing his own snark with excellent comedic timing. Who knew listening to hours of common misspellings would be so much fun? Several of the explanations fall into the “did he just say that?” camp. He covers tricky grammar rules like subject-verb agreement when both a singular and plural subject are involved, names phenomena like “flat adverbs” (e.g., why “Firstly” is wrong), and dispels others’ fussy hangups (“10 items or less”).
David
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you work with words and wish you had a little more confidence in your written style (including but not limited to spelling, punctuation, grammar and word choice), this book is for you. Dreyer's English is both extraordinarily helpful and a delightful read.
Chris Roberts
Jan 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
Benjamin Dryer's guide confirms the existence of a lesser alphabet, ergo, lexicon.

This is the age of trivial authorship, stylized writing strips a novel of plot, characterization, setting, etc.

Chris Roberts, Patron Saint to Outliers
Ben
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, netgalley
I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

I did not expect to love a book about writing as much as I did with Dreyer's English. Dreyer approaches writing with a copywriter's eye, which is perfect when you want your writing to feel like your most _you_ while also being technically correct. This debunks style/formatting myths and provides answers on hundreds of things that generally stop one's writing up, all while remaining witty and highly readable througho
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Madison Mega-Mara...: #19 Dreyer's English 1 3 Mar 03, 2019 06:40AM  
Book cover 1 5 Jul 02, 2018 11:42AM  
  • Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk
  • Accidence Will Happen: A Recovering Pedant's Guide to English Language and Style
  • Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation
  • The New Well Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed
  • Don't Murder Your Mystery: 24 Fiction-Writing Techniques to Save Your Manuscript from Turning Up D.O.A.
  • Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus
  • Last Night's Reading: Illustrated Encounters with Extraordinary Authors
  • Slow Reading in a Hurried Age
  • The Writer's Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction
  • Writing Subtext: What Lies Beneath
  • Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice
  • The Kite and the String: How to Write with Spontaneity and Control--and Live to Tell the Tale
  • Why Write? Collected Nonfiction 1960-2013
  • The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English
  • Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer's Resistance
  • Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story
  • Writing the Paranormal Novel: Techniques and Exercises for Weaving Supernatural Elements Into Your Story.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing
64 followers
Benjamin Dreyer is vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief, of Random House. He began his publishing career as a freelance proofreader and copy editor. In 1993, he became a production editor at Random House, overseeing books by writers including Michael Chabon, Edmund Morris, Suzan-Lori Parks, Michael Pollan, Peter Straub, and Calvin Trillin. He has copyedited books by authors inc ...more
“Only godless savages eschew the series comma.” 1 likes
“It has, to my great dismay, no enforceable laws, much less someone to enforce the laws it doesn’t have.*1” 0 likes
More quotes…