Genre: grammar, the English language
Narrative Style: first person, informal
Synopsis: Gyles Brandreth does not like grammar and punctuation mistakes. In this book, he takes on the linguistic horrors of our times. He explains, offers advice and discusses the importance of language and using it well.
Time on Shelf: I bought this in 2018, not long after it came out.
I love a book about grammar and language usage. It really brings out the English teacher in me. I like the preciseness of it, discussing exact usage and reminding myself of the rules.
Of course, this being Brandreth, this isn’t just a user’s guide to the English language, it’s packed with little asides and amusing anecdotes – all told in his trademark style. This is not a dry language guide. When he is talking about colons, he compares them to binoculars because the colon helps you look ahead. This is a very straightforward way of explaining the colon’s usage. Much easier than a technical explanation.
There is a lot of silliness and some name-dropping, of course. He mentions that the Queen’s comfort breaks are scheduled as ‘opportunity to tidy’ which is quite marvellous. He is also surprisingly modern. For all his Conservative MP status, he is not a stick in the mud language must not change type. He seems to find some joy in online abbreviations and encourages people to look to rappers as well as Jane Austen.
I really enjoyed this book but it’s appeal is probably a bit niche. For all its humour, I imagine most people don’t give much thought to misplaced apostrophes or to why ‘Can I get’ is so annoying and so would probably balk at reading an entire book of grammar advice. Given the amount of badly written PowerPoints I have to sit through in meetings and training, this seems a shame.