This post started out as a book review of ‘The Elements of Style’ by William Strunk Jr, a book that Stephen King strongly advocates in his autobiography In Writing.

Very quickly my review notes became revision notes and the purpose of this book being more study material than anything else became clear.

I started listing the rules from ‘The Elements of Style’, but found myself recreating the book in summarised form, so for ease of reference, I have instead found the rules on YouTube, and linked these below.

Again, for ease of reference, find the below link to an online Oxford reference site which lists grammatical jargon with helpful definitions: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/grammar-a-z

Though there is some controversy on William Strunk Jr’s “rules” to writing, due to several of these points being considered more style options than rules, I am grateful for the advice and tips outlined in this book, and would recommend these rules as pointers on the right direction of correct grammar.

The rules are listed below:

How to Write Better No.1: Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Usage Rule No.1
Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s

How to Write Better No.2: Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Usage Rule No.2
In a series of three or more terms with a single conjuction, use a comma after each term except the last

How to Write Better No.3: Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Usage Rule No.3
Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas

How to Write Better No.4: Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Usage Rule No.4
Place a comma before conjunction introducing an independent clause.

How to Write Better No.5: Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Usage Rule No.5
Do not join independent clauses by a comma.

How to Write Better No.6: Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Usage Rule No.6
Do not break sentences in two.

How to Write Better No.7: Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Usage Rule No.7
Use a colon after an independent clause to introduce a list of particulars, an appositive, an amplifiication, or an illustrative quotation.

How to Write Better No.8: Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Usage Rule No.8
Use a dash to set off an abrupt break or interruption and to announce a long appositive or summary

How to Write Better No.9: Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Usage Rule No.9
The number of the subject determines the number of the verb.

How to Write Better No.10: Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Usage Rule No.10
Use the proper case of the pronoun.

How to Write Better No.11: Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Usage Rule No.11
A participial phrase at the begining of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject.

 

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David P. Philip


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