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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

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  243 ratings  ·  76 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
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  243 ratings  ·  76 reviews


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Start your review of Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World
David
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
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Lady Jane
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Audrie Weston
Mar 24, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Bruce
Nov 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm very much a word nerd, and get called out (both in a negative and a positive fashion) regularly for my use of colorful--not to be confused with off-color--language. When I saw the title of this book, it seemed like it was right up my alley, and to an extent it was, however I feel that sometimes Ms. Brockenbrough got a little too smarmy by about half. Aside from those occasional moments of smarm, and some repetitious bits (especially the lists), though, this was an engaging and fun read, and ...more
Irene
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-books
Read a few pages at a time. As someone who earns her living by correcting people's grammar, this was right up my alley. Great examples of errors, and light, amusing sense of humor in pointing them out.
Terry
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Written by the founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, a tongue-in-cheek look at the atrocities committed against good grammer by celebrities, institutions, etc. Very entertaining.
Nicole
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, nf-humour
Some words of caution: this is not an all-ages or all-sensibilities grammar book. Anyone whos offended by sexual references or swearing probably wont appreciate some of the examples and comments. Included are supposed spams for sexual aids and a section on maledicta with suggestions on how to replace certain not-for-the-ears/eyes-of-the-sensitive words. But if youre of a more liberal and/or forgiving mindset, its often fun.
Although its likely true that only people who already care about grammar
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Shanti
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
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Michael
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 truethe 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:
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Kim
Nov 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sally
Apr 29, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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Katie
Mar 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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Helene
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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Michelle Cristiani
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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Blair Conrad
Jan 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
First off, there were a few more spelling/grammatical/copyediting errors than Idve 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
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Carolyn James
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Kathrina
Apr 05, 2011 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Brian Sison
Sep 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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Sarah
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Linda
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Schnaucl
Feb 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Alison
Aug 26, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
read more...
Marisa
Dec 24, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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Victoria
Jan 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Silent_count
Feb 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non_fiction
"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
...more
Richard Martin
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Becky
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Some literary agency in New York sent me this book with a note that said, "We thought you deserved this." Once I got over being creeped out, I enjoyed the book. Although, ironically, I did find three errors in it. This book is funny, but it tries a little too hard. For more entertaining -- and informative -- books like this, look to Bill Walsh's Lapsing Into a Comma and The Elephants of Style.
Susan (aka Just My Op)
Jul 23, 2009 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Crystal
Sep 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
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!
Kristie
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the author's sense of humor (e.g. the section where she fixes the grammar of some very naughty email messages is hilarious) and her modern references to Justin Timberlake and Courtney Love, among others, makes it feel relevant. If you love grammar, pick it up!
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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 ...more

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