You know the authors’ names. You recognize the title. This is The Elements of Style, the classic guide to English rules and usage, now in its fourth … ooops, make that fifth edition.
The revisions to the new edition are purposely kept minimal in order to retain the book’s unique tone, wit, and charm. But, with a mind to making it “rock.” Here are just a few of the updated examples to help your writing kick some serious ass:
SUGGESTION 26. PUT THE GROSS WORDS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SENTENCE.
Take this sentence from Sherwood Anderson:
“My father was, I am sure, intended by nature to be a cheerful, kindly man.”
Now, consider these alternatives:
“My father was, I am sure, intended by goiter to be a cheerful, kindly man.”
“My father was, I am sure, intended by fa shizzle to be a cheerful, kindly man.”
SUGGESTION 33: MAKE THE POSSESSIVE OF THE POSSESSIVE OF THE POSSESSIVE OF THE POSSESSIVE BY MULTIPLYING THE NUMBER OF APOSTROPHES BY THE NUMBER OF VERB TENSES IN THE ANTITHETICAL PHRASES.
For example, assume we are attempting to describe a football helmet owned by a boy, which is apparently the property of his father, which is actually owned by the New York Giants and which was actually borrowed from a collection of a free-range-chicken magnate in rural Pennsylvania. The more economical, and correct form would be:
Timmy’s’’’’ football helmet.
Now, let’s assume that the little boy in question has a name that ends in ‘s’. The proper form of this would be:
See how elegant!
SUGGESTION 73: WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS COMMONLY MISUSED
CAN: this word means is (are, am) able to. Not to be used as a substitute for gluteus maximus, lavatory, or a single headphone.
FAHRVERGNÜGEN: Never to be used in place of “Man, what was the most mind-numbing, insidious, gut-wrenching, cramp-inducing piece of advertising copy to appear since “Ring around the collar! Ring around the collar!”
STUDENT BODY: Isn’t student bod a lot hotter? You bet it is.
LIKE: Not to be used for as, especially among members of the younger generation. For example:
Jim was, as, you know, as, saying stuff, as, I’ll meet you guys, as, at the bar if, as, you can get, as, the IDs.
It’s much better rendered in the following manner:
Jim was, like, you know, like, saying stuff, like, I’ll meet you guys, like, at the bar if, like, you can get, like, the IDs.
SUGGESTION 93: A PARTICIPAL PHRASE AT THE BEGINNING OF A SENTENCE MUST REFER TO THE GRAMMATICAL SUBJECT.
We’re really not quite sure what this means, so just forget it.