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Idiot's Guides: Grammar and Style

Book Description

Writing and speaking with correct grammar and style is the key to getting ahead in business and life. For many, however, mastering the details of grammar is a slow and painful process. The Idiot's Guide®: Grammar and Style makes learning and using proper grammar clear and easy. In this book, readers get:

Clear, no-nonsense explanations and examples that make learning the finer points of English grammar easy.

An easy way to remember the parts of speech-including nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections-and how to assemble them into clear clauses, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs.

Help with the mechanics of writing, including proper punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.

Tips on avoiding and fixing the most common errors.

Plentiful in-book exercises to reinforce learning for each topic.

A review of the various references and style guides available and how and when to use them.

A thorough guide to writing with clarity and conciseness, which gives more impact to letters, emails, and other documents.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Introduction
  6. Part 1: Introduction to Grammar and Style
    1. 1 Rules and Conventions
      1. Brushing Up on Three Key Concepts
      2. Understanding Grammar
        1. Morphology: Words
        2. Practice
        3. Syntax: Word Order
      3. Choosing a Usage Level
      4. Adhering to Conventions
      5. Appreciating the Purpose of Rules and Conventions
        1. Place the Subject First
        2. Watch Where You Place Phrases and Clauses
        3. Avoid Awkward Shifts in Verb Tense
        4. Avoid Dangling Modifiers
        5. Beware of Misplaced and Omitted Commas
        6. Use Parallel Constructions
        7. Practice
    2. 2 Beyond the Rules: Writing with Style
      1. Defining Style
      2. Some Different Styles
      3. Style Guidelines
      4. Sharpen Your Style
      5. Enhance Your Prose with Literary Devices
        1. Paint a Picture with Figurative Language
        2. Tune In to the Sounds of Language
        3. Practice
      6. Consult Style Guides
  7. Part 2: Grammar Basics
    1. 3 Brushing Up on Parts of Speech
      1. Meeting the Actors: Nouns and Pronouns
        1. The Lead Actors: Nouns
        2. The Supporting Cast: Pronouns
        3. Differences in Noun and Pronoun Behavior
        4. Changing Case
        5. Practice
      2. Taking Action with Verbs
        1. Action Verbs
        2. Linking Verbs
        3. Helping Verbs
        4. Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
        5. Infinitives
        6. Practice
      3. Getting Descriptive with Adjectives and Adverbs
        1. Adjectives and Articles
        2. Adverbs
        3. Practice
      4. Making the Right Connections with Conjunctions
        1. Coordinating Conjunctions
        2. Subordinating Conjunctions
        3. Correlative Conjunctions
        4. Practice
      5. Building Relationships with Prepositions
        1. Practice
      6. Dealing with Interjections: Yay!
      7. Blurring the Lines That Define Parts of Speech
    2. 4 Recognizing the Parts of a Sentence
      1. What Exactly Is a Sentence?
        1. Part 1: Subject
        2. Part 2: Predicate
        3. Sentences with Compound Subjects and Verbs
        4. Identifying the Subject
        5. Practice
      2. Completing Actions with Complements
        1. Direct and Indirect Objects
        2. Object Complements
        3. Subject Complements
        4. Practice
      3. Accentuating Sentences with Phrases
        1. Verb Phrases
        2. Prepositional
        3. Appositives
        4. Verbals
        5. Practice
      4. Grasping the Basics of Clauses
        1. Independent Clauses
        2. Dependent (Subordinate) Clauses
        3. Practice
      5. Common Sentence Structures
        1. Simple Sentence
        2. Compound Sentence
        3. Complex Sentence
        4. Compound-Complex Sentence
        5. Practice
  8. Part 3: Using the Parts of Speech to Build Sentences
    1. 5 Using Nouns and Pronouns as Subjects
      1. Starting a Sentence with a Noun
        1. Starting with a Singular Subject
        2. Starting with a Plural Subject
        3. Inserting the Subject in a Question
        4. Omitting the Subject in a Command
        5. Using a Verbal as a Subject
        6. Practice
      2. Using a Pronoun Instead of a Noun
        1. Subjective Pronouns
        2. Antecedent-Pronoun Agreement
        3. Clarifying the Antecedent-Pronoun Connection
        4. Dealing with Reflexive Actions and Pronouns
        5. Practice
      3. Using Expletive Expressions Sparingly
        1. Practice
      4. Sorting Out Who, Which, and That
      5. Knowing When to Use Who or Whom
        1. Practice
    2. 6 Taking Action with Verbs
      1. Recognizing Verb Forms
        1. Forming the Infinitive
        2. Regular Verb Forms
        3. Irregular Verb Forms
      2. Telling Time with Tenses
        1. Tensing Up with the Verb To Be
        2. Keeping It Simple
        3. Recognizing the Perfect Tenses
        4. Recognizing the Progressive Tenses
        5. Noting the Perfect Progressive Tenses
        6. Sticking to Your Timeline
        7. Sorting Out Lie and Lay
        8. Practice
      3. Making Sure Your Nouns and Verbs Agree
        1. Dealing with Compound Subjects
        2. Accounting for Collective Nouns
        3. Recognizing Singular Indefinite Pronouns
        4. Maintaining Agreement with Amounts and Number of…
        5. Practice
      4. Setting the Right Mood
        1. Practice
      5. Choosing a Voice
        1. Practice
    3. 7 Describing Words: Adjectives and Adverbs
      1. Adjectives: Describing Words
      2. Types of Adjectives
        1. Common
        2. Proper
        3. Compound
        4. Practice
        5. Indefinite
        6. Practice
        7. How to Use Adjectives
        8. Adjectives and To Be
        9. Finding the Right Adjective
        10. Forming Comparisons: Fast, Faster, Fastest
        11. Practice
        12. When Not to Use Adjectives
      3. Articles: Little Words with Big Jobs
        1. Definite Articles
        2. Indefinite Articles
      4. Adverbs: Describing Verbs, Adjectives, and Other Adverbs
        1. Transforming Adjectives into Adverbs
        2. Using Adverbs to Describe Action
        3. Using Adverbs to Describe Adjectives and Other Adverbs
        4. Recognizing Adverbs That Moonlight as Conjunctions
    4. 8 Wrapping Up Action with Complements
      1. Linking to a Subject Complement
      2. Complementing a Direct Object: The Object Complement
        1. Practice
      3. Taking Action on Nouns with Verb Complements
        1. Infinitives as Verb Complements
        2. Gerunds as Verb Complements
        3. Noun Phrases as Verb Complements
        4. Practice
    5. 9 Using Phrases
      1. What a Phrase Is (and Isn’t)
        1. The Difference Between a Phrase and a Clause
        2. Practice
      2. Forming Prepositional Phrases
        1. Prepositional Phrases as Adjectives
        2. Prepositional Phrases as Adverbs
      3. Using Verbs as Adjectives, Adverbs, and Nouns
        1. Using Participles to Describe
        2. Transforming a Verb into a Noun: Gerunds
        3. Getting More Mileage Out of Infinitives
      4. Elaborating on Nouns with Appositives
      5. Rearranging Phrases to Clarify and Emphasize
    6. 10 Adding Clauses
      1. Recognizing the Two Main Clause Types
        1. Independent Clauses
        2. Practice
        3. Dependent Clauses
        4. Noun Clauses
        5. Adjective Clauses
        6. Adverb Clauses
        7. Practice
      2. Rearranging Clauses to Clarify and Emphasize
  9. Part 4: Writing with Style
    1. 11 The Seven Cs of Good Writing
      1. Clear
      2. Compelling
        1. Humor
        2. Fresh Language
        3. Headings and Transitions
      3. Consistent
        1. Grammar
        2. Pronouns
        3. Diction
        4. Format
        5. Thesis Statement and Argument
        6. Assignment Directions or Guidelines
      4. Concise
      5. Convincing
        1. Use Concrete Facts
        2. Write Clean, Error-Free Prose
        3. Don’t Overstate Your Case
      6. Complete
      7. Correct
        1. Grammar
        2. Facts
        3. Format
        4. Purpose
      8. Consulting Style Guides for More Direction
      9. Steering Clear of Plagiarism
        1. Quoting
        2. Make Quotations Blend In
        3. Paraphrasing
        4. Practice
        5. Summarizing
        6. Citing Your Work
        7. Take So-Called Plagiarism Checkers with a Grain of Salt
    2. 12 Choosing the Right Words: Diction
      1. Word Books: The Dictionary and Thesaurus
        1. Different Types of Dictionaries
        2. Using a Thesaurus
        3. Finding the Right Word
        4. Checking a Word’s Meaning as You Read
        5. Denotation vs. Connotation
        6. The Dangers of Careless Thesaurus Use
      2. Avoiding the Double Negative
      3. Vague or Stale Language
        1. Steering Clear of Clichés
        2. Avoiding Euphemisms—Most of the Time
        3. Slang
        4. Jargon: Language Gets Professional
        5. Eggcorns: Mistakes That Make Sense
    3. 13 Maintaining Parallel Structure
      1. Grasping the Concept of Parallel Structure
        1. Writing a Series
        2. Parallelism and Prepositional Phrases
        3. Practice
        4. Parallelism and Résumés
        5. Using Coordinating Conjunctions
        6. Comparing and Contrasting Items
        7. Using Correlative Conjunctions
        8. Practice
    4. 14 Varying Sentence Structure
      1. Rearranging Words and Phrases: Syntax
      2. Combining Short Sentences
        1. Using a Conjunction
        2. Using a Semicolon
        3. Using a Colon
        4. Using a Pronoun
      3. Giving Long Sentences a Break
      4. Trimming the Fat
      5. Varying Sentence Types
      6. Varying Sentence Beginnings
      7. The Virtues of Variety
    5. 15 Avoiding and Fixing Common Errors
      1. Repairing Broken Sentences
        1. Defragmenting a Fragmented Sentence
        2. The Positive Side of Sentence Fragments
        3. Practice
        4. Repairing a Run-On Sentence
        5. Fixing a Comma Splice
        6. Practice
      2. Clarifying the Relationship Between Ideas
        1. Coordination
        2. Subordination
        3. Practice
      3. Clarifying Pronoun References
      4. Fixing Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers
      5. Avoiding Shifts in Subject and Verb Forms
    6. 16 Avoiding Sexism, Bias, and Other No-No’s
      1. Maintaining Sex and Gender Equality
        1. Choosing Sexless Nouns
        2. Dealing with the He/She Dilemma
        3. Practice
      2. Calling People What They Want to Be Called
        1. Avoiding Racial and Ethnic Bias
        2. Steering Clear of Ageism
        3. The Right Words for Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
        4. Avoiding Bias Against People with Medical Conditions and Disabilities
        5. Practice
      3. Sticking with Facts, Figures, and Specifics
      4. Maintaining an Objective Viewpoint
        1. Never Say Never: Avoiding Generalizations and Absolutes
        2. Support Any Claims with Evidence
        3. Be Careful When Making Value Judgments
        4. Practice
  10. Part 5: Fine-Tuning the Mechanics
    1. 17 Basic Punctuation
      1. Putting an End to Your Sentences
        1. The End, Period.
        2. Ending with a Question Mark?
        3. End Already! The Exclamation Point
        4. Practice
      2. Knowing When to Use Commas
        1. Separating Items in a Series
        2. Separating Two or More Adjectives
        3. Joining Two Independent Clauses
        4. Setting Off Nonessential Clauses and Phrases
        5. Pausing After an Introductory Element
        6. Pausing for Interruptions in a Sentence
        7. Other Uses for Commas
      3. Using a Semicolon to Join Items
        1. Joining Independent Clauses
        2. Practice
        3. Separating Items in a Series
      4. Brushing Up on Colon Usage
        1. Introducing a List
        2. Introducing a Formal Statement or Long Quotation
        3. Separating Independent Clauses
        4. More Uses for Colons
    2. 18 Quotation Marks and Apostrophes
      1. Enclosing Text in Quotation Marks
        1. Quoting a Person’s Exact Words
        2. Punctuating Around Quotation Marks
        3. Formatting a Running Dialogue
        4. Dealing with Long Quotations: Block Quotes
        5. Dealing with Quotations Inside Quotations
        6. Enclosing Titles in Quotes
        7. Flagging Slang and Technical Terms
      2. Using Apostrophes
        1. Forming Possessives
        2. Plural Nouns Ending in s
        3. Indefinite Pronouns
        4. Dual Possession
        5. Practice
        6. Time- and Money-Related Words
        7. Converting Some Singulars into Plurals
        8. Forming Contractions
    3. 19 Hyphens, Dashes, Parentheses, and Brackets
      1. Putting Hyphens to Good Use
        1. Breaking a Word at the End of a Line
        2. Hyphenating Compound Numbers
        3. Practice
        4. Setting Off a Prefix … or Not
        5. Hyphenating Compound Adjectives
      2. Making Good Use of the Dash
        1. Choosing an Em or En Dash
        2. Indicating a Range of Numbers
        3. Introducing a Clarifying Statement
      3. Enclosing Incidental (Nonessential) Text in Parentheses
        1. Commas, Dashes, or Parentheses?
        2. Periods: In or Out?
        3. Practice
        4. Making Sure the Text Is Incidental
      4. Using Brackets [Rarely, If Ever]
    4. 20 Spelling Rules, Tips, and Tricks
      1. Spelling Phonetically: A Challenge in English
      2. Brushing Up on Spelling Rules
        1. Vowel Sounds
        2. The “i before e except after c” Rule
        3. Doubling a Consonant
        4. Practice
        5. Hard and Soft Consonants
        6. The N Sound
      3. Plurals
        1. Words Ending in Y
        2. Practice
        3. Irregular Plural Words
        4. When Plural and Singular Are the Same
        5. When F Becomes V
      4. Attaching Prefixes and Suffixes
        1. Prefixes
        2. Suffixes
        3. Infixes
    5. 21 Capitalization, Abbreviations, and Numbers
      1. Capitalization
        1. Capitalizing the First Word of Sentences and Quotations
        2. An Independent Clause Following a Colon
        3. Capitalizing Proper Nouns and Adjectives
        4. Nationalities, Races, and Religions
        5. Specific Places, Things, or Events
        6. Capitalizing I
        7. Other First-Person Pronouns Are Not Capitalized
        8. Capitalizing Titles
        9. Personal Titles Are Sometimes Capitalized
        10. Words Referring to God
      2. Abbreviations
        1. Practice
      3. Numbers, Dates, and Time
    6. Appendixes
      1. A Glossary
      2. B Resources
    7.     Index