Reviewed by Andi Ward
If you're like me, you don't remember much
(if any) of the grammar taught in school all those years ago. Faced recently
with the daunting task of checking over a manuscript, I realized it was time to
go back to the books and refresh my faulty memory.
Don't get me wrong, most writers have an
"ear" for the written word but, truthfully, where do you really need a comma and
where is it optional? Or are commas ever optional? Rather than dig through the
vastness of a style manual, I went looking for a basic grammar book and found
Painless Grammar. I'll be honest, the title made me pick it up, and the
freaked-out cat on the cover was cute too. However, in flipping through the
book, I found what I was looking for.
Admittedly, Painless Grammar is
written for children (sixth to eighth grades). Even as an adult I found it to be
user-friendly, giving clear examples and explanations rather than spelling out a
lot of rules and do's and don't's (which I couldn't remember in the first
place). The one detraction from this is that all the examples are aimed at
children and young adults, but hey, that's the original audience.
Dr. Elliott gives explanations in plain,
easy-to-understand English. This only covers the most basic of grammar rules, so
if you're looking for something in depth, stick with Shrunk & White. Elliot
cracks jokes as she makes points, which helps to trigger my memory. She gives
examples galore, showing and explaining why something is wrong and why something
is partially right or just plain right. There are exercises for everything
covered and little tests at the end. (Answers included elsewhere, by the way.)
At the end of each section, there are sentences to be edited as a self-quiz.
is just the refresher course I was looking for. If you're searching for an
alternative to memorizing Strunk & White, I highly recommend this book.