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About the book
  • Published: 5 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9780525533054
  • Imprint: Riverhead
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $30.00

Woe Is I

The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English (Fourth Edition)


Formats & editions


A revised and updated edition of the iconic grammar guide for the 21st century.

In this expanded and updated edition of Woe Is I, former editor at The New York Times Book Review Patricia T. O'Conner unties the knottiest grammar tangles with the same insight and humor that have charmed and enlightened readers of previous editions for years.

With fresh insights into the rights, wrongs, and maybes of English grammar and usage, O'Conner offers in Woe Is I down-to-earth explanations and plain-English solutions to the language mysteries that bedevil all of us. "Books about English grammar and usage are . . . never content with the status quo," O'Conner writes. "That's because English is not a stay-put language. It's always changing-expanding here, shrinking there, trying on new things, casting off old ones . . . Time doesn't stand still and neither does language." In this fourth edition, O'Conner explains how the usage of an array of words has evolved.

For example, the once-shunned "they," "them," and "their" for an unknown somebody is now acceptable. And the battle between "who" and "whom" has just about been won, O'Conner says (hint: It wasn't by "whom"). Then there's the use of "taller than me" in simple comparisons, instead of the ramrod-stiff "taller than I." "May" and "might," "use to" and "used to," abbreviations that use periods and those that don't, and the evolving definition of "unique" are all explained here by O'Conner. The result is an engaging, up-to-date and jargon-free guide to every reader's questions about grammar, style, and usage for the 21st century.

  • Pub date: 5 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9780525533054
  • Imprint: Riverhead
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $30.00

About the Author

Patricia T. O'Conner

Patricia T. O’Conner, a former editor at The New York Times Book Review, has written four books on language and writing–the bestselling Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English; Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing; Woe Is I Jr.: The Younger Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English; and You Send Me: Getting It Right When You Write Online. Stewart Kellerman has been an editor at The New York Times and a foreign correspondent for UPI in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. He co-authored You Send Me with his wife, Patricia T. O’Conner, and he runs their website and blog at grammarphobia.com. They live in rural Connecticut.


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