Compiled by Mary Morel

If you want to read just a couple of books on grammar, I would choose Graham King’s Good Grammar and Mark Lester and Larry Beason’s The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage.

I can’t live without the Australian Commonwealth Style Manual (see Snooks & co. below), which I think all Australian writers should own. It’s not a light read, but it’s a great resource.

Increasingly, these days, I consult websites as much as books so this list includes websites as well as books. I have added comments about each author. These comments are just my personal opinion.

Boojars, Kersti and Burridge, Kate, Introducing English Grammar, 2nd edn, Hodder Education, London, 2010.
(Written by two professors of linguistics, this book goes beyond the basics to make you think about how language works.)

Bryson, Bill, Mother Tongue: The English language, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1990.
(Bill Bryson’s books are entertaining and easy to read.)

Burridge, Kate, Blooming English: Observations on the roots, cultivation and hybrids of the English language, ABC Books, Sydney, 2002.

Burridge, Kate, Weeds in the Garden of Words: Further observations on the tangled history of the English language, ABC Books, Sydney, 2004.

Burridge, Kate, Gift of the Gob: Morsels of English language history, ABC Books, Sydney, 2010.
(I like Kate Burridge’s work. She takes an intelligent, thought-provoking approach to language.)

Crystal, David, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, 2nd edn, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003.

Crystal, David, How Language Works, Penguin Group (Australia), Camberwell, 2008.
(David Crystal is an authority in the field and worth reading.)

Doyle, Deb, Grey Areas and Gremlins: a grammar and punctuation refresher, revised edn, Editorial Training Services, Sydney, 2004.
(Deb Doyle takes a practical look at grammar for business writers.)

Flann, Elizabeth and Hill, Beryl, The Australian Editing Handbook, 2nd edn, John Wiley & Sons, Milton, 2004.
(This is a good book for people new to editing.)

Fogarty, Mignon, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips™ for Better Writing, Holt Paperbacks, New York, 2008.

Fogarty, Mignon, The Grammar Devotional: Daily tips for successful writing from Grammar Girl™, Holt Paperbacks, New York, 2009.
(Mignon Fogarty has done a fantastic job of making grammar accessible in the digital world with her website, e-newsletters and podcasts. I use her website frequently.)

Fowler, H.W., A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, London, 1965.
(One of the early masters in the field and still relevant today.)

Garner, Bryan, Modern American Usage, Oxford University Press, 2009.
(An authoritative US guide on style and usage.)

Goldstein, N. (ed.), The Associated Press Stylebook, Perseus Books, Philadelphia, 2009.
(If you’re interested in style and usage, this is worth owning.)

Halliday, M.A.K., An Introduction to Functional Grammar, Hodder Arnold, London, 2004.
(This book is for grammar students interested in functional grammar.)

Harrison, Annette, Macquarie Student Guides: Basic English grammar, Macmillan Education Australia, South Yarra, 2003.
(A comprehensive basic guide.)

Huddleston, Rodney and Pullum, Geoffrey K., The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language2002.
(This is one of the most respected grammar books for serious grammar students.)

Huddleston, Rodney and Pullum, Geoffrey K., A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005.
(Another book for serious grammar students.)

King, Graham, Good Grammar, 2nd edn, HarperCollins, Glasgow, 2004.
(I like this book. It’s comprehensive, yet easy to read.)

Lester, Mark and Beason, Larry, The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage, 2nd edn, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2013.
(I like the practical approach of this book.)

McKenzie, Margaret, Australian Handbook for Writers and Editors: Grammar, usage and punctuation, 4th edn, Woodslane, Warriewood, NSW, 2010.
(A good basic handbook with exercises.)

Peters, Pam, The Cambridge Australian English Style Guide, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1995.
(An Australian reference book that I consult quite often.)

Penneker, James, W., The Secret Life of Pronouns: What our words say about us, Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2011.
(I enjoyed this book because it made me think about pronouns in a different way.)

Quirk, Randolph and Greenbaum, Sidney, A University Grammar of English, Longman Group, London, 1973.
(I’ve had this book forever, but still refer to it from time to time. It has stood the test of time.)

Rozakis, Laurie E., The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Grammar and Style, 2nd edn, Alpha, New York, 2003.
(Comprehensive, basic grammar book.)

Seely, John, Oxford Everyday Grammar, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001.
(Comprehensive, basic grammar guide.)

Snooks & Co., Style manual: For authors, editors and printers, 6th edn, John Wiley & Sons, Canberra, 2002. (The Australian Commonwealth style manual)
(A must for Australian business writers.)

Strauss, Jane, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An easy-to-use guide with clear rules, real-world examples, and reproducible quizzes, 10th edn, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2008.
(This book combines information with quizzes to help you learn.)

Strunk, William Jr and White, E.B., The Elements of Style, 3rd edn, Macmillan Publishing, New York, 1979.
(This book is one of the earliest authoritative works on style. It’s concise and easy to read, but I no longer rate it as highly as I once did because I don’t agree with everything they say.)

The Economist Style Guide, 10th edn, Profile Books Ltd, London, 2010.
(This book is for people who like consulting several references on style. It is also available as a free online style guide.)

Trask, R.L., Mind the Gaffe: The Penguin guide to common errors in English, Penguin Books, London, 2001.
(A reference book with an alphabetical approach.)

Tredinnick, Mark, The Little Green Grammar Book, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2008.
(An intellectual look at grammar. Mark is a poet and his writing is literary and beautiful to read.)

Truss, Lynne, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The zero tolerance approach to punctuation, Profile Books, London, 2003.
(This book became wildly popular when it was first published. I enjoyed it, but don’t agree with her stance on zero tolerance.)

University of Chicago, The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edn, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2010.
(A US authority on style.)


Newsletters worth subscribing to

The Grammar Factor (my monthly newsletter)
The Better Writing Skills by Tim North
Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty
About Grammar & Composition by Richard Nordquist

Leave a Reply