How Not to Write by William Safire
The Essential Misrules of Grammar

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Synopsis

These fifty humorous misrules of grammar will open the eyes of writers of all levels to fine style.

How Not to Write is a wickedly witty book about grammar, usage, and style. William Safire, the author of the New York Times Magazine column "On Language," homes in on the "essential misrules of grammar," those mistakes that call attention to the major rules and regulations of writing. He tells you the correct way to write and then tells you when it is all right to break the rules. In this lighthearted guide, he chooses the most common and perplexing concerns of writers new and old. Each mini-chapter starts by stating a misrule like "Don't use Capital letters without good REASON." Safire then follows up with solid and entertaining advice on language, grammar, and life. He covers a vast territory from capitalization, split infinitives (it turns out you can split one if done meaningfully), run-on sentences, and semi-colons to contractions, the double negative, dangling participles, and even onomatopoeia. Originally published under the title Fumblerules.
 

About William Safire

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William Safire was born on Dec. 17, 1929. He attended Syracuse University, but dropped out after two years. He began his career as a reporter for The New York Herald Tribune. He had also been a radio and television producer and a U.S. Army correspondent. From 1955 to 1960, Safire was vice president of a public relations firm in New York City, and then became president of his own firm. He was responsible for bringing Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev together in 1959. In 1968, he joined the campaign of Richard Nixon as a senior White House speechwriter for Nixon. Safire joined The New York Times in 1973 as a political columnist. He also writes a Sunday column, On Language, which has appeared in The New York Times Magazine since 1979. This column on grammar, usage, and etymology has led to the publication of 10 books and made him the most widely read writer on the English language. William Safire was the winner of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. He is a trustee for Syracuse University. Since 1995 he has served as a member of the Pulitzer Board. He is the author of Freedom (1987), a novel of Lincoln and the Civil War. His other novels include Full Disclosure (1977), Sleeper Spy (1995) and Scandalmonger (2000). His other titles include a dictionary, a history, anthologies and commentaries.
 
Published July 17, 2005 by W. W. Norton & Company. 160 pages
Genres: Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for How Not to Write

Kirkus Reviews

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editors and schoolteachers will nod in weary sympathy at Rule 33: “Of all the statements about indefinite pronouns, none is useful.” Whether he’s inveighing against subject-verb disagreements (Rule 12) or urging, “Don’t use contractions in formal writing” (Rule 5), Safire is invariably shrewd, wi...

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Publishers Weekly

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That's probably the biggest problem with this would-be stylebook: the language mavens who are Safire's core audience will find it all overfamiliar, while graduating high school students, into whose hands the book will certainly fall, may regard the author's humor as terminally unhip.

May 02 2005 | Read Full Review of How Not to Write: The Essenti...

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