Dreyer's English

An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style
Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (221 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller • A sharp, funny grammar guide they’ll actually want to read, from Random House’s longtime copy chief and one of Twitter’s leading language gurus

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by O: The Oprah MagazinePaste Shelf Awareness

"Essential (and delightful!)" (People)

We all write, all the time: books, blogs, emails. Lots and lots of emails. And we all want to write better. Benjamin Dreyer is here to help.

As Random House’s copy chief, Dreyer has upheld the standards of the legendary publisher for more than two decades. He is beloved by authors and editors alike - not to mention his followers on social media - for deconstructing the English language with playful erudition. Now, he distills everything he has learned from the myriad books he has copyedited and overseen into a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best prose foot forward.

As authoritative as it is amusing, Dreyer’s English offers lessons on punctuation, from the underloved semicolon to the enigmatic en dash; the rules and nonrules of grammar, including why it’s okay to begin a sentence with "And" or "But" and to confidently split an infinitive; and why it’s best to avoid the doldrums of the Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers, including "very," "rather," "of course," and the dreaded "actually." Dreyer will let you know whether "alright" is all right (sometimes) and even help you brush up on your spelling - though, as he notes, "The problem with mnemonic devices is that I can never remember them."

And yes: "Only godless savages eschew the series comma."

Chockful of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts, this audiobook will prove to be invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills, mandatory for people who spend their time editing and shaping other people’s prose, and - perhaps best of all - an utter treat for anyone who simply revels in language.

Praise for Dreyer’s English

"Playful, smart, self-conscious, and personal... One encounters wisdom and good sense on nearly every page of Dreyer’s English." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Destined to become a classic." (The Millions)

"Dreyer can help you...with tips on punctuation and spelling.... Even better: He’ll entertain you while he’s at it." (Newsday)

©2019 Benjamin Dreyer (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Interwoven with cultural history and lively self-revelation, this bracing manual will up your game even if all you’re writing is emails." (People Book of the Week)

 

"Call it the hedonic appeal. Dreyer beckons readers by showing that his rules make prose pleasurable.... His book is in love with the toothsomeness of language. Its sentences capture writing’s physicality." (Katy Waldman, The New Yorker)

"Brimming with wit and revelatory wisdom, this style manual-cum-linguistic jubilee from Random House’s copy chief...entertains as it enlightens." (O: The Oprah Magazine)

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You'll be horrified at a lifetime of usage errors.

For five decades I've fashioned myself a writer. High school teachers told me I wrote well. College professors and a long succession of bosses chimed in over the years. Then I listened to Benjamin DREYER'S ENGLISH and spent a significant amount of time pondering all the mistakes I must have made over the years. Once in 1986 I learned I had been mispronouncing amphitheater--adding an "L” as if the stage and architecture amplified sound. After DREYER'S ENGLISH, I realize the mistakes I’ve been making in the written word. I find myself wishing for a “Dreyer Checker,” that will search an electronic document for bone-headed errors in usage all missed by the best of grammar checkers. At the age of 48 my job forced me into learning to speak Spanish. For a year it was my only focus with school, private instructors, and full-time compensation before a posting at the US Embassy in Mexico City. While listening to DREYER'S ENGLISH I realized how difficult it must be for foreigners to learn this crazy language. Not only are there no spelling bees in Spanish-speaking countries (if you can say it, you can spell it), but there are far fewer homonyms. My guess is less than 10% of those in English. Benjamin Dreyer points a number of them out and then tells the reader (listener) how they have been misusing them since childhood. Ugh. Perhaps a little pedantic and a touch smug, it’s still a must listen/read. It’s laugh-out-loud funny in spots, so there’s that added bonus. I just purchased the print version as well, for a handy reference while I pound the keys. Well done.

11 people found this helpful

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Fun, Informative, and Well Performed

Well written, well researched, all together well done. Benjamin Dreyer has put together an excellent handbook, and his and Alison Fraser's performance is fantastic. Listen through the first time for the fun of it, then keep a copy at your desk for reference.

6 people found this helpful

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Utterly Correct

I enjoy Benjamin Dreyer on Twitter.

I enjoy Benjamin Dreyer on Twitter, but suspected that there were some precisely placed nuance, that I was missing.

I was right, and now everything is funnier.

It’s nice to hear correct pronunciation. I have a physical copy too, so there were a few spots that I delightedly cross-referenced.

Practically, I think this could be a game-changer for ESL students/learners/teachers...of all levels and generations. I think it will be especially helpful, in those ‘quality’ areas, like humor and sarcasm. (Whether this is of benefit to humanity, will be explained by the future dolphin overlords.)

Additional observation: it is a disconcertingly soothing bedtime story. The angers are righteous. The arguments are meticulously sound. Proofs are valid. You simply close your eyes and think about a magical land where antonyms and synonyms aren’t confused. Where a verb can travel through time—without fear of non-existence—and trust that its conjugation will be self-evident.

5 people found this helpful

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Wonderful

Dreyer’s writing is absolutely beautiful. This style guide may not be the only one you want, but it is the only one you need, for better writing.

4 people found this helpful

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Word nerds, don’t miss this one.

This is one book you must hear, and the author is just the narrator to deliver it. With a voice that is a cross between Will Shortz and my friend Martin, who is an attorney in West Hollywood; Dreyer’s reading enhances his sarcastically hysterical and often poetic observations of common mistakes made by writers.

3 people found this helpful

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Terrific translation to audio

The author reads the book with dry wit and such friendly know-it-all-ness (Go ahead, Benjamin! Correct me!) that the tone of his writing is perfectly translated from the page to the ear. Alison Fraser’s readings of the choice bits are so splendid as to warrant their own audio. A must listen!

2 people found this helpful

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Please leave the politics out!

I care how you feel about the English language, not your personal politics. If you hate Trump, so be it. Same about Hitler, though a comparison of the 2 is way out of line. Hitler was a murderer and I don't find anything about him humorous despite your puerile attempts at making him a joke.

Otherwise, I liked the book, though, like the Bible, there are too many "begats" in terms of celebrities whose names are usually misspelled. Many of these were very minor celebrities.

1 person found this helpful

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best re-read

My favorite book to re-read in 2020 - a lot. Never too old to learn it right.

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A Delightful Surprise

I was fairly confident I would like this book, if only from its topic and tongue-in-cheek subtitle. What I didn't expect was how much I would enjoy the narration. I'm especially wary of authors who read their own work - often a notoriously bad choice - but in this case Benjamin Dreyer nails it, along with his co-performer Alison Fraser. Excellent production and direction, too. Well done!

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Interesting and entertaining

Really enjoyed this book. The author's humor adds to its overall quality. Actually reading (instead of listening) it would be even more enjoyable because their are many "word lists" and seeing them would get the message across even more.

1 person found this helpful