Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E.B. White, illustrated by Maira Kalman


The Elements of Style is a stylish book.  It is also a book with a life of its own- from a book printed in a private college to a massively selling grammar guide with classy illustrations by Maira Kalman and an opera dedicated to it by Nico Muhly.

See this is how books are written- for the reader. Professor Strunk shows up in some of the illustrations in the edition I was reading and as is the case with me(and I guess with you all), I could see the old professor, with his hair parted in the middle, his enthusiastic eyes peering through his steel rimmed glasses saying:




This little book edited by his student E.B.White is a rule book with numbered instructions on how to write simple correct sentences so that the reader will understand. His instructions are simple enough. In case you are overwhelmed by phrases like restrictive and non-restrictive clauses or participial phrases, remember to go through the glossary at the end where everything has been explained.

Rules we can use:


Words to say No to

Words to say No to


Keep a copy of Elements of Style with you at all times if you want to write with clarity. It’s easy enough to figure out these rules but style is sticky ground. How can you imitate the essence of a thing?

Take this sentence:


Try writing it in any other grammatically correct combination. It will lack the fireworks of the original. How can you cultivate such an elusive thing as style?

You can if you write as an observer and without any pretense. You can if you know when you need a blueprint and when a natural outburst would suffice. You can if you use nouns and verbs, and stay clear of adjectives and adverbs. You can if you stick to orthodox spelling.

Rules are meant to be broken, but this little book will change the way you look at grammar. It is not an inconvenient examination you must pass to score good grades. It is a tool to make communication and thereby life itself easier.

Read it.


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