Monday, April 20, 2009

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White

The first writing conference I attended had a course for beginning writers. The presenter gave us a list of books she felt would assist in our quest for publication. The Elements of Style was on the list.

At the break, I stood in line with the other newbies and bought it. Since that first conference, other writers have mentioned this book when they recommend important books the writer should own. My copy has under one hundred pages including the introduction by E. B. White. The Tables of Contents contains chapter titles such as Omit Needless Words, Use the Active Voice, and Use Definite, Specific, Concrete Language.

Skimming through the index causes me to check on items such as lie/lay and that/which. Looking over the book to write this article, I've decided I'm going to revisit the book to refresh my memory on some grammar rules. Then, I'm going to look at the bookstore to see if there is a later edition which may reflect changes in the language.

As a tutor for Adult Literacy, I discuss the importance of using language correctly to understand and be understood. My Asian immigrant student thanks me each lesson when he learns a new fact about English because he wants to communicate effectively. I am grateful to the first instructor who suggested this book as a tool to being an effective communicator.

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