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Writing: Grammar, Punctuation, Vocabulary, and Spelling

English is a notoriously difficult language. Its roots are Germanic, but words from other languages have been added through the centuries—from the Viking invasions and the Norman Conquest all the way up to the trending internet colloquialisms of the present—and then set into a grammar influenced by Latin. There are a lot of rules and exceptions to rules. It’s not surprising that writing in a clear and effective style can be a challenge. This minibibliography brings together titles about grammar, punctuation, style, spelling, and vocabulary. Approaches vary from the general principles of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style (BR 12727, DB 52467) to detailed studies with exercises included in Frank’s The Pen Commandments (BR 15501, DB 58151). There are guides written for many levels, from children to adults.

All titles in this minibibliography can be requested from your local cooperating library. The digital braille and talking book titles can be downloaded from the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) website. Contact your local cooperating library to register for BARD. Registered users may also download audio titles on iOS and Android devices using the BARD Mobile app. Braille titles may be downloaded on an iOS device linked by Bluetooth to a refreshable braille display. To find your library, go to www.loc.gov/nls/braille-audio-reading-materials/find-a-local-library/ or call toll-free 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

Grammar and Punctuation

The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English
by Roy Peter Clark
Writing coach presents colloquial advice on making grammar useful and memorable, along with examples from well-known authors. Encourages writers to master grammar rules—and then to break them discreetly. Provides bullet points at the end of each chapter summarizing key points. 2010.
Download BR 20315
Download DB 73411

How to Write a Sentence
by Stanley Eugene Fish
Professor and New York Times columnist Stanley Fish explains the art of crafting a sentence. Discusses form, content, and style using
examples from various writers. 2011.
Download DB 76905

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
by Mignon Fogarty
Fogarty presents language usage tips similar to those from her popular podcast Grammar Girl. Explains guidelines for choosing between terms she calls “dirty words” such as “affect” versus “effect” or “i.e.” versus “e.g.” Provides information on applying basic grammar rules, starting sentences properly, and using punctuation and capitalization correctly. 2008.
Download BR 18120
Download DB 67697

The Pen Commandments: A Guide for the Beginning Writer
by Steven Frank
Rules of good writing in a playful, informative guide for teens, parents, and students of all ages. The author, a longtime high school English teacher, gives solid basics of punctuation, grammar, style, sentence structure, composition, and topic choice along with suggestions, exercises, and examples. 2003.BR 15501 DB 58151 When Good People Write Bad Sentences: 12 Steps to Better Writing Habitsby Robert W. HarrisStrategies for overcoming an “addiction to bad writing.” Examines the roots of common writing errors that lead to ineffective sentences and baffling communication. Explains how to use correct grammar, syntax, punctuation, diction, and style to produce clear, confident, and persuasive prose. 2003.
Download BR 15628
Download DB 58539

Drive Time English
by Living Language
Intermediate-advanced level ESL program that imparts important English-language vocabulary, grammar, conversation, and culture. Commercial audiobook. 2014.
Download DB 87038

The Little Red Writing Book: 20 Powerful Principles of Structure, Style, and Readability
by Brandon Royal
Concise guide to organization, style, and presentation for students and business persons. Author posits that anyone can develop outstanding writing skills by mastering the basics. Includes thirty commonly encountered rules of grammar and diction as well as examples and exercises to help create effective documents for any occasion. 2004.
Download BR 15646

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., with Revisions, an Introduction, and a Chapter on Writing
by E.B. White
A compendium of specific tips to encourage writers to be clear, brief, and bold. This fourth edition is modestly updated to accommodate gender references and to provide fresh examples. Contains a foreword by Roger Angell. Bestseller. 2000.
Download BR 12727
Download DB 52467

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss
Despairing over the abysmal state of British usage, author/journalist Truss, a stickler for punctuation, dissects common language errors involving apostrophes, commas, dashes, and hyphens. She notes punctuation is not a class issue but a tool to clarify the written word. Bestseller. 2003.
Download BR 15421
Download DB 58442

Specific Types of Writing

Booher’s Rules of Business Grammar
by Dianna Daniels Booher
Identifies and offers ways to correct common mistakes that appear in business presentations, e-mails, and documents. Explains verbs, pronouns, punctuation, and adverbs and provides grammar-rule memorization tips. 2009.
Download DB 72785

How to Write a Letter
by Patricia Dragisic
Describes the basic structure of personal and business letters, with examples of each type. Includes such diverse topics as grammar, salutations, and using electronic mail; presents some famous letters from the past. For junior and senior high and older readers. 1998.
Download DB 48512

Writing Winning Reports and Essays
by Paul B. Janeczko
Outlines strategies for writing successful research reports and essays. Gives basic guidelines for using note cards, citing sources, outlining, and writing drafts. Provides samples of completed papers. Suggests ideas by school subject and offers research tips. For junior and senior high readers. 2003.
Download DB 58668

You Send Me: Getting It Right When You Write Online
by Patricia T. O’Conner
The author of Woe Is I (DB 70749) and Words Fail Me (DB 70601) offers advice for writing online. Discusses grammar, spelling, and etiquette. Offers examples of inappropriate and offensive e-mails and ways to perfect them. 2002.
Download DB 72441

Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home
by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe.
Editors from the New York Times and Hyperion Books offer a primer on composing and delivering perfect e-mail messages. Offers guidance on writing effective subject lines and bodies and avoiding legal issues. Includes a short history of the craft and examples of written communication—both bad and good. 2007.
Download BR 17212
Download DB 64500

Vocabulary and Spelling

Spell It Out
by David Crystal
A linguist chronologically examines the history of spelling in the English language to unearth the stories behind the rogue words and irregular spelling rules that confound so many. He explains the reasoning and stories behind these many peculiarities. 2012
Download BR 21412
Download DB 83930

Spelling the Easy Way
by Joseph E. Mersand
Written for those who want to improve their spelling and to learn how to do it the easy way. In addition to a ready reference spelling list of 10,000 words, chapters include information about why you misspell, better spelling by ear, words most frequently misspelled, and help for Spanish-speaking students.
Download BR 08068

Junk English
by Ken Smith
An alphabetically arranged inventory of contemporary English-language grammatical humbug and empty rhetoric. With a light touch, Smith attacks clichés, euphemisms, and jargon, giving examples culled from everyday newspaper, magazine, radio, and TV usage—such as “smartize” and “impactful.” Also explores technology and warfare vocabularies. Insists that words be used according to their proper meanings. 2001.
Download DB 54642

Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists and Spirits of Letters, Words and Combinations thereof : Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics and Essences: with Examples of their Usage Foul and Savory in Media Current and Ancient, Offered in the Joy of their Perusal for the Juicing up of Gentle Folk and Rude
by Roy Blount
Language expert’s personal glossographia, in which he delves into word origins and considers the connection between the sound and the meaning of words. Arranged in an A-to-Z dictionary format, entries range from “ain’t” and “google” to “kvetch” and “wrought.” 2008.
Download DB 69152

100 Words series compiled by the editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries

100 Words Almost Everyone Confuses and Misuses
This guide to the most troublesome words in the English language clearly explains everyday pitfalls such as the difference between “flaunt” and “flout.” Examples of proper usage include many quotations from well-known authors. 2004.
Download BR 15913
DB 59951

100 Words Every High School Freshman Should Know: The 100 Words
Selected vocabulary organized from A to Z includes straightforward terms and typical items from textbooks for grades 7 and 8. Definitions are accompanied by example sentences from familiar authors. Includes a few exercises to build vocabulary. For junior and senior high readers.
2004.
Download BR 15947
Download DB 59931

100 Words Every High School Graduate Should Know
The American Heritage College Dictionary web site list of vocabulary words evolved into a published book by popular demand. For senior high and older readers. Bestseller. 2003.
Download BR 15198
Download DB 58357

100 Words Every Word Lover should Know: The 100 Words
A compilation of words from “aesthetic” to “zenith” that have interesting histories, origins, and meanings. Gives examples of how the words were used by well-known English writers. Provides etymological information on changes in usage over time. 2005.
Download BR 16527
Download DB 61079

100 Words to Make You Sound Smart
A compilation of words, from “accolade” to “zealous,” that can be used to enhance everyday conversation. Provides examples of incorporating each selection into daily dialog without sounding pompous or technical. Includes etymological information on changes in usage over time. 2006.
Download BR 17406
Download DB 65457

Children

Behind the Mask: A Book about Prepositions
by Ruth Heller
“OF prepositions have no fear . . . they help make directions clear . . . and IN phrases only they appear.” The author uses simple rhyming text with catchy phrases to explain these useful words. For grades 2-4. 1995.
Download BR 10628

How to Write Terrific Book Reports
by Elizabeth James
Explains how to write book reports. Offers guidance on selecting appropriate material, reading for information, writing and organizing, and delivering an oral presentation. Includes examples. For grades 3-6 and older readers. 1998.
Download BR 13131

Adjectives
by Kate Riggs
A simple overview of adjectives—the words that describe nouns. Includes their uses in sentences, their common and proper types, and how to spot articles and different forms. For grades 2-4. 2013.
Download DB 79453

Adverbs
by Kate Riggs
A simple overview of adverbs—the words that describe actions. Includes their uses in sentences, their degrees of comparison, and how to spot different and irregular forms. For grades 2-4. 2013.
Download DB 79550

Grammar Basics: Adjectives, Adverbs, Nouns, Verbs
by Kate Riggs
Four books on different parts of speech. Adjectives look at words that describe nouns. Includes their uses in sentences, their common and proper types, and how to spot different forms. Adverbs explain words that describe actions. Also includes Nouns and Verbs. For grades 2-4. 2013.
Download BR 21427

Nouns
by Kate Riggs
A simple overview of nouns—the words that name things. Includes their uses in sentences, their common and proper types, and how to spot singular and plural forms. For grades 2-4. 2013.
Download DB 79703

Verbs
by Kate Riggs
A simple overview of verbs—the words that tell what subjects do. Includes their uses in sentences, their tenses and person, and how to match them with singular and plural nouns. For grades 2-4. 2013.
Download DB 79825

Checking Your Grammar
by Marvin Terban
Guide to editing your writing before someone else reads it. Shows how to build sentences using different parts of speech, proper grammar, correct spelling, and punctuation. Offers many examples. For grades 5-8. 1993.
Download BR 10066