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Rants: OT & OTT > Grammar Help

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message 1: by Keryl (new)

Keryl Raist (kerylraist) | 240 comments So, for those of you who don't know, I review books as well as write them. And, as a reviewer I try to take grammar into account without being terribly picky about it. And if I really like the author and think it's good work, I'll send them an offer of help.

Now, here's the thing, I'm decent with American English grammar, but when it comes to the rest of English speakers, I'm less sure.

So, does anyone know of something like a British version of the Chicago Manual or a Hacker Manual (standard US grammar rulebooks)? I'd really like to have a better idea if the things I'm noticing are correct or not.

As for a specific question: In US English, if you have two independent clauses linked by a conjunction, you need a comma with that conjunction, otherwise it's a run on. Is that true for Brit English as well?


message 2: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
You're speaking Dutch to me.


message 3: by Alain (new)

Alain Gomez | 45 comments I would go on Amazon UK and see if you could find a used school book.

message 4: by Keryl (last edited Jul 06, 2011 08:15AM) (new)

Keryl Raist (kerylraist) | 240 comments Alain wrote: "I would go on Amazon UK and see if you could find a used school book."

In the US a Hackers or Chicago manual would be a college level school book. They're usually the sort of thing freshmen are required to buy.

I've been told grammar isn't actually taught in the UK any more, but I don't know if that's actually true.

Basically I want something with a bit of authority to it. If I'm going to tell someone, 'your grammar is off,' I want to be able to provide a respectable reference for it, and preferably a modern one.

If you're a Brit writer, what do you check if you want to see if your grammar needs a tweak?

eta: grammar fix.

message 5: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (patriciasierra) | 2388 comments Better say "your" not "you're"...

message 6: by Keryl (last edited Jul 06, 2011 08:16AM) (new)

Keryl Raist (kerylraist) | 240 comments Patricia Sierra wrote: "Better say "your" not "you're"..."

Shakes head pitifully and makes a change.

message 7: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (patriciasierra) | 2388 comments Aw heck, you're ruining the irony...

message 8: by Keryl (new)

Keryl Raist (kerylraist) | 240 comments What can I say? Beyond my Alanis Morrisette phase in college, I'm not big on irony. Sarcasm, oh yea. Irony, not so much. ;)

message 9: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments The fact that the internet has changed the vast ocean into a mere 'pond' amuses me no end.

However, my (once pristine) American English is hopelessly confused with words like 'trolley' and 'flat' instead of 'cart' and 'apartment' as well as commas in the wrong places and random usage of 'our' instead of 'or' in certain words.

I'm never going to get it sorted out again.

message 10: by Andre Jute (last edited Jul 07, 2011 02:22PM) (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Keryl wrote: "If you're a Brit writer, what do you check if you want to see if your grammar needs a tweak?"

If you went to a public (private) school, or a grammar school, the presumption is that your grammar never needs a tweak and, if it does, you can always ask an American on the quiet. If you went to a state (public) school, the presumption is that you don't need grammar, that everyone will think the way you speak picaresque.

Englishmen interested in grammar read H W Fowler's Dictionary of the Use of the English Language, but it is a book one assimilates by osmosis, rather than a reference where one goes to a pinpoint to find precisely the required rule; you need to know what the rule is called to use Fowler, so it is largely a book for people who are already properly educated. The best Fowler is the first edition facsimile repro by HW himself; mine was printed by Omega. I laugh aloud a lot when I read Fowler; he had a wicked sense of humour.

For a style manual, when I want to hand a young editor something, I give him/her/it a copy of the style manuals produced in years gone by all the better British publishers, including the small hobby publishers who were much stricter than the literary houses. Some of these style manuals could easily be the outline for a year's work at college level. The BBC style manual may still be on the net, and is good if not very big.

You do understand that the British love Strunk and White just as much as Americans do, don't you? Good English is universal (not an original idea; I think Jacques Barzun wrote an essay about it in the fifties). Barzun's book Simple & Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers was and probably is a strong seller in the UK.

message 11: by Keryl (new)

Keryl Raist (kerylraist) | 240 comments I am familiar with both Strunk and White as well as Fowlers, just not sure what the modern ideas are. (And I agree, Fowlers is a mess to use, but fun to read.)

Example, I keep running into sentences built like this: independent clause coordinating conjunction independent clause. Strunk and White, the Chicago Manual, and Hacker's will all tell me that construction needs a comma before the coordinating conjunction. Most American English will have that comma, yet I rarely see them in Brit English. Or take the Oxford comma, you see them all the time in US English, and rarely in Brit English. So, rather than shoot my mouth off and look like a twit, I'd like to get my hands on a decent research tool.

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