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Book review
English Usage cover

The Cambridge Guide to English Usage
Pam Peters

(CUP, 2004)

Review written by Thomas Simon

The Cambridge Guide to English Usage is an essential book for anyone involved with English language. Here's what the publishers say in the blurb on Amazon:

The Cambridge Guide to English Usage is an A-Z reference book, giving an up-to-date account of the debatable issues of English usage and written style. Its advice draws on a wealth of recent research and data from very large corpora of American and British English - illuminating their many divergences and also points of convergence on which international English can be based. The book comprises more than 4000 points of word meaning, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and larger issues of inclusive language, and effective writing and argument. It also provides guidance on grammatical terminology, and covers topics in electronic communication and the internet. The discussion notes the major dictionaries, grammars and usage books in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia, allowing readers to calibrate their own practices as required. CGEU is descriptive rather than prescriptive, but offers a principled basis for implementing progressive or more conservative decisions on usage.

600 pages packed full of usage entries with extensive coverage that leaves you wondering why a particular point was included, until you start to realise that it is difficult to think of something that has been omitted! It's the kind of book that helps you sort out the nitty gritty of areas of usage when you need them & then you find yourself straying to other points & then to other pages until you've probably forgotten why you picked it up in the first place. That kind of book.

The Cambridge Guide to English Usage is difficult book to review as you really need to see it. It's a lovely reference book for the study & the staffroom, & makes a great present. Do make a point of finding it.

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