Woe is I by Patricia T. O’Conner

Posted October 11, 2017 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Woe is I by Patricia T. O’ConnerWoe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O'Conner
Published by Riverhead Trade on June 29th 2004
Genres: Nonfiction, Writing
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
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The bestselling grammar book has been updated and revised to include the latest and greatest on the basics and subtleties of English, and features a new chapter on the language of the Internet.

Main points

This is a great resource for writers and I recommend it. Some of the rules and advice is outdated but as long as you can tell what is currently considered fine (by the rules of common usage) then you can easily skip over old rules. I did learn some things, and some rules I will have to ignore because the power of common usage is too strong (unfortunately). But the friendly manner in which O’Conner relates the information makes it a fun read. She can get a little patronizing at times, a little too prescriptivist—such as in her personal war against the word ain’t. But I get on my soapbox about the abomination alright so I can forgive.

Some sections are full of rules and fun memory devices (mostly poems that you probably won’t take the time to actually memorize, but they’re still fun), and others are reference sections. Lists of commonly-confused words, for instance, or oft-mispronounced ones. So it’s worth getting the book just to skim through it now and then and brush up. Note: It’s not affiliated with a specific style guide, so O’Conner either chooses a side on things that guides generally leave open or more commonly vice versa. These can be read with a grain of salt.

  reaction upon finishing

Whew! That was a lot.

this book in one word


About Patricia T. O’Conner

Pat, a native of Des Moines, graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa in 1971. She did graduate work in urban journalism at the University of Minnesota before beginning her career as a reporter and editor in 1973. After several years at the Des Moines Register and the Wall Street Journal, she joined the New York Times in 1982.

Most of her 15 years with the Times were spent at the Book Review, where she edited reviews and literary criticism. She also contributed articles and book reviews, and for many years wrote the Times’s weekly columns on new video releases and paperback books.



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