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Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Mignon Fogarty

St. Martin's Griffin

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ISBN10: 0805088318
ISBN13: 9780805088311

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240 Pages



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In 2007, Mignon Fogarty, perhaps better known as Grammar Girl, created a weekly podcast to tackle some of the most common mistakes people make while communicating. Her concise lessons aim to teach, or refresh, grammar knowledge as simply as possible. The podcasts have now been downloaded more than seven million times, and Fogarty has dispensed grammar tips on Oprah and appeared on the pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.

Written with the wit, warmth, and accessibility for which the podcasts are known, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing covers the grammar rules and word-choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers. Her tips include stylistic choices, business writing, and effective e-mailing. From "between vs. among" and "although vs. while" to comma splices and misplaced modifiers, Fogarty offers memory tricks and clear explanations that will help readers recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules.

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing is also available on CD as an unabridged audiobook, read by the author. Please email for more information.


Praise for Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

"I teach English at a small high school in Orfordville, Wisconsin. I am very impressed with the quality and ease of information on grammar at your site."—Geri Acker

"This semester, my students are teaching grammar to one another. Rules: be correct, be creative, be interactive. We've already kicked off the journey by agreeing to use sample sentences starring Aardvark and Squiggly. (If you haven't met these characters yet, I suggest you start listening to the Grammar Girl podcast with the rest of the country.) The inclusion of mullets and eye patches into our sentences may send us right off the fun scale. I know we're in college; rest assured we've reserved plenty of time for seriousness—should the need arise. Truth be told, however, it's all about the retention triggered by vivid images and good times. Can't wait to see what Aardvark and Squiggly are up to this afternoon."—Hillary Clemens, Brigham Young University, Idaho
"My mom is a language arts teacher at a lockdown facility for middle school and high school girls who have committed felonies. These are some really disturbed young ladies who have had really awful lives. One of my mom's goals is to break them out of their habits of speaking 'street' all the time, and especially to never write in slang. Her point is not to belittle colloquial speech but to impress upon these girls that there's a time and place for everything and if they want to succeed, they will need to learn to express themselves in an educated manner . . . For her birthday I gave mom your book and she loves it! It's now part of her curriculum. She says these girls are amazed that someone can become a celebrity via good grammar and if she says, 'Grammar Girl says . . . " they sit up and listen. She says your ideas for remembering grammar rules are terrific for these girls."—Karen Roth, Scottsdale, Arizona

"Your book is great. It reminds me of when I first read Strunk and White. I will use it in my classroom."—Fourth Grade Teacher, Las Vegas Public School System

"I am a special education teacher and this year I have a cluster of kids in a self contained language arts class. It is my goal to make them decent writers. Most don't know a noun from ketchup so using your memory tricks will help!"—Samantha Jenses, Phoenix Public School System (Middle School)

"I went into my high school senior son's English class for a conference. What's on the wall? The Grammar Girl article, laminated, from the Atlanta Journal Constitution."—Barbara Nixon, Atlanta, Georgia

"While Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing is true to its title, offering advice for writers for every step of the process, from generating topic ideas to effective proofreading tips, this is not merely a reference book for writers. Most of the information applies equally to our daily conversation, concisely clarifying routine language-related issues and tackling those little bits of linguistic friction that rub us the wrong way, or perhaps should rub us the wrong way. Language is an interactive art, and Fogarty's strength is her simple engagement: Her explanations sound like the urgings of a kind coworker who wants you to stop sabotaging your career by using 'then' when you mean 'than', the gentle guidance of a friend who understands the intricacies of where the comma goes in relation to quotation marks and parentheses. Her tone is easy and informative, which will be a relief to anyone who associates 'proper English' with condescending know-it-alls who think that knowledge of 'whom' separates the learned from the layperson. Best of all, she writes with enthusiasm, sometimes sounding like she's settling a bet rather than disseminating knowledge. Fogarty's writing style seems to be influenced by the podcast format: Because many of her topics come from letters from listeners, her responses are always focused on a real and active audience. There isn't any sense that she is simply explaining the rules; she seems to genuinely want her audience to learn. This is not your father's grammar book: Fogarty speaks to a 21st century audience, her short pieces steeped with modern pop culture references and a bit of retro fun: She uses Star Trek's 'Borg' as an example of a singular collective noun (the Borg, she explains, are a sect with no sense of individuality, acting always as a collective); she calls out lessons from seminal language resource Schoolhouse Rocks (an underappreciated educational influence from a generation ago), and name drops Coldplay and the Black Eyed Peas when discussing whether band names are singular or plural. The subject matter isn't new—the crux of every clarification Fogarty offers has surely been covered by another volume in the reference section of the book store—but considering how the same issues remain (e.g., the consistent confusion about when to use me, myself, or I), further tutelage is apparently necessary. Included in this volume are clear explanations of many common day-to-day usage questions, from the proper response to the simple question, 'How are you?' (She thoroughly explains the reason that 'I'm good' is every bit as acceptable as 'I'm well') to helpful mnemonic tricks for remembering commonly confused items ('i.e.' means 'in other words', and both begin with 'i'; 'e.g.' means 'example', both start with 'e'.) . . . Fogarty's success with the podcast, and the value of Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, is her ability to effectively communicate the essential information in a way that holds the reader's attention long enough to set the record straight without causing involuntary flashbacks to the tedium of junior high English classes. Whether you are a grammar-phobe seeking guidance, a parent looking for a tutorial that your kids will enjoy (and therefore use) or a writer seeking a fun reference manual for frustrating recurring questions, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing will likely satisfy."—Bill Reagan, PopMatters

Praise for Mignon Fogarty's Grammar Girl podcast:

"Fogarty walks her listeners through the sometimes-tricky subjects with a voice that is authoritative but warm. Kind of like the sixth-grade teacher you wish you had."—USA Today

"Delightfully droll . . . Grammar Girl gives clear explanations with helpful examples."—The Los Angeles Times

"Fogarty . . . sparked what you might call a worldwide, syntax-driven fiesta."—Newsday

"At the root of all her success, of course, is a true love of language and grammar."—The Arizona Republic

"Fogarty . . . has become the country's go-to gal on grammar . . . Helpful. Smart. Funny. Fans find Grammar Girl to be all those things."—The Seattle Times

Praise for Mignon Fogarty:

"I had the pleasure of introducing and attending Mignon Fogarty's Using New Media to Engage Kids in the Classroom session at the Annual Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts conference in Galveston. Every minute of Mignon's presentation had me and the over 200 attending teachers on the edge of our seats, frantically taking notes of all the tools and tricks shared. Mignon's attention-getting techniques using media like photos, music, podcasts, videos, and blogs were presented with such clarity and ease that I left the session loaded with immediate ideas and programs to implement the day I returned from the conference. As a middle school teacher looking to try and keep up with my technologically advanced students, Mignon's session provided me with not only ideas and applications, but also the resources with which to easily incorporate attention-getting media techniques as a part of my class assignments and presentations. I only hope that Mignon Fogarty will be a guest speaker at my next professional development opportunity, as I have experienced first-hand the excitement of my own students in regards to her style of teaching grammar. I am inundated on a daily basis now with the same question, 'Mrs. Eaton, when are we going to listen to Grammar Girl's next podcast?'"—Krista Eaton, 7th Grade English Language Arts Teacher, Lake Travis Middle School, Austin, Texas

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


EVEN THOUGH MY SHOW is called "Grammar Girl," the secret is that it's not usually grammar that confounds people—it's usage. I get complaints from purists, but Usage Girl doesn't have the same ring to...

Listen to an Excerpt from the Audiobook

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Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing--Audiobook Excerpt

Listen to this audiobook excerpt and hear Mignon Fogarty read from her book Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. Grammar Girl, is determined to wipe out bad grammar—but she's also determined to make the process as painless as possible. A couple of years ago, she created a weekly podcast to tackle some of the most common mistakes people make while communicating.

About the author

Mignon Fogarty

MIGNON FOGARTY is the creator of Grammar Girl and the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips podcast network. She is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards, an inductee of the Podcasting Hall of Fame, a New York Times bestselling author, and the former chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show, and she currently lives in California with her husband, Patrick. Visit her website at to sign up for her free email newsletter and podcast.

Patrick Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty

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