Self Improvement: 1
I have started the year with a little self-improvement. The 'equipment' has, of course, been a book. Today I finished the first: My Grammar and I by J.A. Wines and Caroline Taggart.
This is wittily written, and I learnt a lot. Since I read it on a Kindle this had advantages and disadvantages.
One of the main advantages was the bookmarking and note-taking facility. Those things I didn't know I could highlight and refer to them easily when I wish to refer to them in future.
The disadvantage was that the page references weren't linked, but referred to by page number (which there aren't on my Kindle, well not without accessing another menu, which is tedious). The publishers have missed a trick there: the ability to link is one of the main advantages of the ebook format.
Another, more minor, gripe is that there were quite a few (deliberate!) examples of bad grammar, and sometimes the correct version was not given alongside. I would have preferred it without these altogether since there is always a danger that bad practice will stick in the mind.
Apart from these little niggles I found it a useful book, and it clarified a lot for me. One of the most interesting was the differences in grammar between American English and British English: we say 'which' while Americans tend to favour the less formal 'that'; we tend to omit the full stop (period) after contractions such as 'Mr.' while Americans are keeping theirs; and the Americans use the em-dash with no spaces, while we have an en-dash with a space each side.
There were sections on spelling and confusables, parts of speech, sentence structure and punctuation. It started with an interesting section on the history of grammar which provided me with an explanation of why I have always felt inadequate in this. I was educated in an era when the teaching of grammar was deemed to be unnecessary; the philosophy was that it was possible to learn through experience. This is fine most of the time, but there are odd occasions when I wonder, for instance, whether to use 'who' or 'whom'. All I had to go on until now was how it sounded, which wasn't always foolproof. Now I know that one is the subject and the other is the object. This helps me not only choose the right one, but know why I've made that choice. For me, it was a moment of great insight; one I was only able to have through reading this book.
I bought this Kindle book for £0.99 in the Amazon post-Christmas sale.
Next on my self-improvement list is Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss (which has been in my TBR book pile for years) and the newly published Can You Eat , Shoot and Leave by Clare Dignall.