Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Accidents of Style: Good Advice on How Not to Write Badly” as Want to Read:
The Accidents of Style: Good Advice on How Not to Write Badly
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Accidents of Style: Good Advice on How Not to Write Badly

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  56 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews

Fasten your seat belt for a crash course in careful usage.... Just like automobile accidents, accidents of style occur all over the English-speaking world, in print and on the Internet, thousands of times every day. They range from minor fender benders, such as confusing their and there, to serious smashups, such as misusing sensual for sensuous or writing loathe when yo

Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 20th 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published July 14th 2010)
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 The Accidents of Style, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Accidents of Style

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Quite an interesting book, in spite of the author's position atop his high horse. Some of the errors listed I consider so basic I winced when I saw the entries, and others are more subtle (though I knew the "correct answer" - yay!); there were some instances (thankfully, not many) where I came to realize I'd been writing wrong, some where I agreed with what he was saying, but have no problem with the "incorrect" form (usually with a disclaimer such as "Though X is widespread in common usage, I'm ...more
Lillian Hong
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm looking around and some people say that the author is too cocky, too worried over little things. Well yea. He has a right to be. Stuff like this is his passion, and so he has the right to go crazy. I mean, it's a book on the misuse of the English language. It's kinda obvious that there's going to be huge details on every little thing. Besides, what YOU consider "little" might "big" to another person. Not everyone is at the same level as you (who's being high and mighty now?). Also, if you're ...more
James Cardona
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
The following review contains at least 24 accidents of style. Can you find them all? Answers at end.

1) I can not tell you how helpful the book accidents of style was to me. 2) It had a positive affect on me. 3) I have been meaning to write a review for awhile but I waited ‘til I had more time. 4) My English usage, I thought was alright until I read this book and realized it wasn’t my forté. 5) In fact and it goes without saying, when I realized how many errors I make I was nauseous with the unde
Feb 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-nonfiction
The idea is that there are common grammatical/usage mistakes made by writers, and it's akin to an auot accident. The writer is a serious prescriptivist (and apparently a Yalie, since I learned of the book through the alumni mag). He covers 350 different misuses!! It might have been interesting to own, but no good for reading straight through. It just gets to be too much. I didn't actually finish, since I got it as a library book and someone had it on hold when I went to renew. But I don't feel o ...more
Nov 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010
a humorous & helpful style guide. this is one of the few books from which i actually learned something! & in fact, i learned a lot! even the intro had me laughing, as the author says that "experienced writers will make fewer mistakes, while apprentice writer will, unfortunately, make less." if you didn't get this joke, you need this book. & if you did get this joke, you're a huge nerd like me who will undoubtedly enjoy this book! though in writing this review, i broke the exclamation ...more
Ethan Mathias
Apr 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting approach to a topic near and dear to lovers of language. Elster identifies the common offenders and walks us through them, entry by entry, so we don't make the same mistakes again. While I agree with him most of the time, some entries seem to be a bit of a reach. Some figures of speech or constructions he labels "accidents of style" to be avoided completely, are really more a matter of opinion. His is an expert opinion, for which we are grateful, but some of the "corrections" are cle ...more
May 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Always more I can learn, or relearn, about the English language so I found the book interesting. However, I thought the author was sometimes too self-righteous about minor issues. I agree that clear and concise language and punctuation is important, but I think being so prescriptive makes one hesitant to write at all.
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book looks so promising that I'm going to buy my own copy. I was convinced when I saw the section that discusses eager versus anxious; it's hard not to love a book that has the same pet peeves as I do!
Nov 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I took it out of the library and stared at it. Hoping that none of the accidents had happened to me. But alas, after reading it I realized many had. Hopefully, I can retain enough of the information to ensure that they don't happen again, or at least less frequently.
Sep 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2010
350 errors of punctuation, spelling, grammar and usage .....whew! I
can not (cannot) imagine their (there) being a way for my friend and me (I) remember every last (every) one!!!!
Feb 09, 2012 rated it liked it
A fun usage guide that would have appealed to me a bit more if Elster wasn't so snarky.
rated it liked it
Nov 27, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Sep 09, 2016
Jesse Patterson
rated it it was amazing
Jun 04, 2012
Russell Simpkins
rated it it was amazing
Jun 13, 2012
rated it really liked it
Jul 31, 2012
rated it liked it
Nov 01, 2015
John Darr
rated it liked it
May 18, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Feb 22, 2017
rated it really liked it
Dec 25, 2010
Sushobhan Sanyal
rated it it was amazing
Jul 12, 2014
rated it it was amazing
May 06, 2016
rated it really liked it
May 11, 2011
rated it liked it
Nov 19, 2016
rated it really liked it
Jul 29, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Oct 03, 2010
rated it it was amazing
Jun 11, 2014
Patricia Cadena
rated it really liked it
Oct 30, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Jul 27, 2011
rated it liked it
May 02, 2013
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Charles Harrington Elster is a writer, broadcaster, and logophile—a lover of words.

He is the author and narrator of the audio vocabulary-building program Verbal Advantage and the book by the same name. His other books include Tooth and Nail and Test of Time, vocabulary-building novels for high school students preparing to take the college entrance exams; There's a Word for It, a lighthearted look
More about Charles Harrington Elster...