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She has written five books in the series, with others on the drawing board. At age 45, she has the wit and wisdom of Erma Bombeck, some critics have said. She works at such a pace that she can handle two if not three a year, which is remarkable, and she's also funny. By , the company expanded the idea into life styles books. By year's end, titles will be on the market ''idiotizing'' subjects as diverse as ''The Idiot's Guide to Choosing, Training and Raising a Dog'' to ''The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wall Street'' which has sold more than , copies.

One recent popular title on Elvis Presley commemorated the 20th anniversary of his death. The series continues to gain momentum as readers seek out the titles that offer a ''quick fix'' of concise and well researched information on topics they may want to relearn or have always sought out but never had the time to investigate themselves. Krebs said. Rozakis said. Rozakis was teaching high school English in Commack in when advanced placement courses came into vogue. Rozakis's first proposal for a test prep book for Advanced Placement English. Her book started a series of similar guides for other exams and she successfully published many other study books.

When Ms. The small book sold out of the first printing. Bernbach recommended Ms. Rozakis for the Idiot Guide series based on her skill and ''wonderful light touch. Bernbach said. Her mother, she said, is ''queen of garage sales, a collector without peer. Antique jewelry has been a collection since childhood. I think it is innate. I am inclined to think it runs in the family.

There may not be a gene for it, but it is more a passion than environmental. Generally more women than men collect. The book is aimed at the generalist who wants to know how to become a savvy collector and how not to get taken. Rozakis wrote. Beautiful objects from the past provide evocative memories of the rosy world of family memories and historic events. They connect us to our heritage and our world.

When the wars finally end, we settle our dis- putes with words. Every word we know makes a difference, because every word is an idea. Words are the only things that last forever; they are more durable than the hills. Words are the most powerful drug we have. Every time you write something, you say much more than you think you say. Bonus: True or False: If the art of conversation stood a little bit higher, we would have a lower birthrate. People who cherish language are not linguistic police who arrest the miscreants who split their infinitives or dangle their participles in public.

Rather, they are people like you, people who recognize the need to speak and write with confidence. Chapter 1 : Are You Grammarphobic? What exactly are the components of English?

What Is Grammar? To the rest of us, grammar is a branch of linguistics that deals with the form andstructure of words. It's an attempt to make explicit and conscious what the skilledwriter and speaker of English does intuitivelyand unconsciously. Grammar is one of the oldest fields of study, Take My Word for Itas well as one of the most durable. EvenPlato can be labeled an early grammarian, Grammarians are not necessarilybecause he was responsible for dividing writers, but writers must alwaysthe sentence into subject and verb onoma be grammarians, whether theyand rheme , a division it has retained.

Dazzle your friends; toss this out at thenext cocktail party. What Is Usage? Usage is the customary way we use language in speech and writing.

Because we use lan- guage for different purposes, there are a various levels of usage. The following table lists the big three. Standard English: formal usage They have done nothing. Standard English: informal usage They've done nothing. Nonstandard usage Dey ain't done nothin'.

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You Could Look It Up The main difference between standard English and nonstandard English appears in the use of pronouns Usage is the customary and certain verb forms. For example, where a speakerway we use language in speech of standard English would use brought, a speaker ofand writing.

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There are also several words and expressions that are considered nonstandard, such as slang words. In a few rarecases, however, people have made substandard usage their trademark. Dizzy Dean, apitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals who later became a radio and TV sports broadcaster,is a case in point. We won 'em,no questions asked. The Language Rank and FileLevel of Usage Uses CharacteristicsFormal Business letters, resumes, Standard verbs, adverbsInformal cover letters, serious with -ly endings, standard speeches, newspaper vocabulary, standard articles, scholarship punctuation Most books, magazines Standard verbs, adverbs with newspapers, business letters, -ly endings, standard vocab- many textbooks, political ulary, standard punctuation, speeches contractions, some slang.

For example,you would use formal usage in a job application letter, resume, and business letter.


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Informal usage is more fitting for a personal letter, greeting card message, and conver-sation. Even in these days when everything goes, nonstandard usage is as tacky asrhinestones on tweed. I coverall these concerns and more in Parts 2 and 3. As its name suggests, mechanics is the nuts and bolts of clear writing. They signalpace and intonation. Best of all, they help you say what you mean clearly and so avoidmisunderstanding.

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The Complete Idiot's Guide to American Literature

What Is Style? People with style can wear whiteshoes after Labor Day and not get arrested by the Style Police; they never have lipstickon their teeth, toilet paper on their heels, or rings around their collars. Heck, theydon't even have to wear collars to look sharp. Personal style is the way you dress, walk,and talk to make an impression on those you meet. Style is made up of elements such as word choice, A writer's style is his or sentence length and structure, punctuation, figures ofher distinctive way of writing.

Writers might change their style for different kinds of writing and to suit different audi- ences.

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In poetry, for example, writers might use more imagery than they would use in prose nonpoetry. In the summer of 1 9 5 7 , White revised and reissued a slender writing guide-book he had used at Cornell, written by his professor, William Strunk. Fewer than pages long, the book has never been out of print since—and with good cause; it's a honey.

C h a p t e r : Are You Grammarphobic? The reader gets the meaning you, the writer, intended.

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There's no ambiguity or guesswork; everyone's on the same page. I cover issues of clarity in Chapter Good writing is the bun and the beef; the reader gets the complete package. With effective communication, readers have everything they need to evaluate the message and act on it.


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See Part 5 for these issues. The writing is free from errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics. There are no bloopers in such areas as spelling, capitalization, word order, and sentence structure. All this is covered in Parts 2 , 3 , and 4. The words are arranged on the page to save the reader time. The lay- out is clear and crisp, so the message is easy to track. Americans,tions in Part 6.

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