A book that describes verbs as the heartthrobs of sentences can't be all bad. With vivid imagery in grammatical examples and exhortations, one can effortlessly gobble up this book before you know it, licking your lips with verbal blood. Gordon is =thorough=, naming grammatical entities I never knew even had names (often very suggestive names, too - expletive nouns and copulative verbs. I suppose Mom was right - there =are= naughty words!)
However, I would suggest this as a start to investigating grammar and writing style. Gordon's explanations are truly bare bones; for example, she simply indicates one will be chastised for splitting infinitives, but doesn't indicate =why= splitting infinitives is seen as wrong. The reason why: 17th and 18th century grammarians decided that English grammar should be logical. Since the most logical language they knew was formal Latin, and since one couldn't split infinitives in Latin (because they are one word in that language), they decided that one shouldn't be able to split infinitives in English, either. However, "to go boldly" has a whimper of an impact compared to "to boldly go". Similarly, grammarians did away with double negatives and duplicated superlatives (native to the English language, back to the Old English) for added emphasis. Why don't =you= tell the Rolling Stones they should've sang "I Can't Get Any Satisfaction", and then you can tell Shakespeare to cut out "most" of "the most unkindest cut of all".
However, you can't go wrong with the grammatical and stylistic rules found in Gordon's Gothic grammar; it's a great place to begin, and one is entertained in the process. If one doesn't know how to work within those rules, one can't tell when it is legitimate to break them. So why don't you boldly go and get satisfaction from this book?
Back to Reviews pageMary Pat Campbell, last updated June 2001