Even the most brilliant writers now and then lose their footing in their sentences and slip into syntactical, grammatical, or punctuational error. The rest of us can learn from their missteps.
The Gotham Grammarian is a book of rules and guidelines for anyone who believes that correctness and precision still matter. The book illustrates and discusses the ninety-five errors that most often go undetected by extraordinary writers, as well as by editors, copy editors, and proofreaders.
The erroneous specimens (each of which is preceded by a banana-peel icon) have been drawn from distinguished magazines and newspapers, as well as from books brought out by distinguished publishing houses. I am sure to have committed my own share of blunders in writing this book.
Anyone interested in reading further about syntax, grammar, punctuation, and usage is urged to become a lifelong companion of Garner’s Modern English Usage, by Bryan A. Garner (fourth edition, Oxford University Press, 2016); Modern American Usage: A Guide, by Wilson Follett (Hill and Wang, 1966); The Careful Writer, by Theodore M. Bernstein (Free Press, 1995); The Handbook of Good English, by Edward D. Johnson (Washington Square Press, 1991); and Understanding Grammar, by Paul Roberts (Harper & Row, 1954).
I consulted Merriam-Webster dictionaries for the spelling of most of the words in the revised versions of erroneous sentences included as examples in this book. The revised versions often reflect my preferences in styling the titles of works and in spelling out certain numbers—as well as my preferences in (or prejudices about) how sentences ought to be punctuated.
Finally, I express my deepest gratitude to the publisher, Derek White, and to Jane Unrue for their acute editorial attentions. I also thank Gordon Lish, E. M., Thomas Vasko, and Lisel Virkler.
An abridged edition of The Gotham Grammarian is available in paperback from Calamari Archive, Inc. (follow links to the left to purchase). An online, unabridged version (in seven units) is provided as a complimentary resource:
- Verbal Agreements [Errors in Subject-Verb Agreement]
- Placement Services [Troubles with Positioning Modifiers and Appositives]
- Pronouns Are Not for Amateurs [Problems with Pronouns]
- Countererrorist Measures [Tactics for Vanquishing Other Errors in Grammar and Syntax] (forthcoming November 2017)
- The Comma-ist Manifesto (forthcoming December 2017)
- Punctuational Punctilio [Other Problems with Punctuation] (forthcoming January 2018)
- A Miscellany of Malpractice [Oddments of Capitalization and Vocabulary] (forthcoming February 2018)