Woe Is I by Patricia T. O’Conner

Have you ever gone to your resources hoping to find rules for using  a word like “that” and come away feeling like your brain had been in a blender? The experience is a frequent one for me. My Word Processor will tag something as incorrect grammar. I’ll digest the reason it gives but I’ve learned not to stop there. Aside from an innate distrust of all things Microshaft, I’ve found ol’ Bill’s boys to be just plain wrong at times and uninformed in others. So, I check to see what White Smoke has to say. If this doesn’t satisfy me, I’ll proceed to the online Chicago Manual of Style or one of my reference books. Usually, this is a mistake because my net discovery is inconsistencies between the references. I’d like to standardize on the Chicago Manual of Style, but digging therein for a grammatical rule can make the search for Tut’s Tomb seem trivial.

My salvation may be “Woe Is I”  by Patricia T. O’Conner. From what I’ve seen so far, she explains English usage in an entertaining,  sprite like manner. She doesn’t try to explain the difference between a participle and a partridge, but gives witty memory-joggers to correct usage. I’d love to know the technical rule for why I shouldn’t use “lugubrious” with a particular antecedent, but before I can understand, I have to know the difference between an antecedent and an anteater, and so on. At seventy years of age, I’m not at all certain I have time for that.

Perhaps Patrticia will provide me with the tool I need to produce better prose 😉

John

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