Review of Dreyer's English

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  • Insider's Take


Benjamin Dreyer, executive managing editor and copy chief at Random House publishers, helps writers and copy editors navigate the thicket of English usage to reach clear, comprehensible and correct prose. Whether the topic is grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, spelling or the importance of continuity in fiction, Dreyer’s guidebook offers hard-won wisdom garnered over a long, distinguished career. His examples and commentary brim with wit and slightly snarky humor. He writes with relish and care to help authors achieve the best possible version of their written voice. 

About the Author

Benjamin Dryer is vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief at Random House, where he has overseen the editing process for many of publishing’s most celebrated authors.


Ignore the “nonrules” that make writing harder and less enjoyable than it needs to be.

Dreyer, top editor at the venerable publisher Random House, regards only a few rules of English grammar as indispensable. Subject–verb agreement is one. Many rules, he insists, are consensus conventions that contribute to clarity and comprehension in communication. But he urges you to ignore many so-called rules that aren’t rules at all. Dreyer’s thesis, which he illustrates throughout the entire book, is that if your sentences sound good when read aloud, don’t fret about rules. “If a style choice follows the rules but results in something that looks awful or makes no sense on the page,” he writes, “rethink it.”

Dreyer lists the “Big Three” breakable nonrules that make writing harder than necessary:

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