The Right Word By Elizabeth Morrison
Making Sense of Words That Confuse
Read How You Want, (2012)
EasyRead Large Print, in 16 Point Font (Originally Published in Standard Print by Exisle Publishing)
Genre: English Grammar, Writing
Reviewed by Herbert White - May 24, 2012
No matter how you dice it, English is a difficult language to learn - even for a native speaker. It is a language that seems at times, not to follow any rules. You have an uncountable number of homophones - words that sound alike but have different meanings. As well, the sounds of the letters can change at will. For example, in Maize and Maze, both the 'ai' in Maize and the 'a' in Maze have the same sound. Why is this? I for one do not know, but perhaps part of the problem lies in the fact that English is a bit of a hodgepodge. English, in part, developed from a merging of several Anglo-Saxon dialects and Latin, along with a major influx of French, Old Norse, and other languages brought to England by invaders and conquerors. From there on, English readily adapted and adopted countless words from around the world, and from the native population. For example, OK (or Okay) is thought to be derived from Choctaw word, but there is still much debate as to its origins. In addition, unlike some languages, such as French, which has an oversight body called the Académie française that sets standards for the French language, English has no such oversight. Words are added, or deleted from the common vocabulary purely by the popularity or lack there of, of a given word.
So what is a person to do when they want to be sure that they are using the right word, in the right place, and that they are spelling it correctly? Memorizing all the variations is one option, but not a very practical one. Another option is to refer to a book such as Fowler's Modern English Usage or Garner's Modern American Usage. Neither of these books are available in large print. Both of these books are extremely valuable to professional writers and academics, but the general populous may find these books to be bit drab and overly detailed. A more practical approach is a book such as Elizabeth Morrison's The Right Word: Making Sense of Words That Confuse, which is available in large print!
The Right Word focuses solely on homophones, and the entries in this book are organized alphabetically, just like a dictionary. In addition, all entries are crossed referenced so that you only need to know how to spell one of the similar sounding words. For example - gnu / knew / new - all sound the same, and to make it easier to find them, they are listed in the book under the various spellings, with a 'see also' notation (when necessary) directing you to the definitions for these words.
A handy guidebook, The Right Word was designed for use by non-English speaking students studying English. However it is also an excellent guide and reference book for native speakers of English, especially in this day an age when reliance on spell checkers may make us a bit lazy in the spelling department. After all, how can you trust a computer to know the difference between lay and lei? Depending upon how you misspelled your initial word, you might end up with either if you don't double check the spell checker!
If you ever wondered if you should use principle or principal or have been confused over the differences between their/there/they're, this book is for you. In addition, Morrison has included a handy list of commonly confused words such as accept/except and inhuman/inhumane, along with a list of commonly misspelled words. All in all, this is a handy reference book for use in school, at home, and at the office.
The Right Word is available from Read How You Want, an on-demand publisher that makes books available in a variety of formats including Braille, DAISY, and five different large print formats. This range of formats makes this, and other books, available not only to visually impaired individuals, but also anyone with a reading or physical disability that makes reading standard print books difficult.
When BAD Grammar Happens to GOOD People, by Ann Batko.
Starting with a pretest that will help you identify problem areas, this book points out common grammar mistakes, and offers tips on how to avoid making them in both your spoken and written endeavors.