Garner’s Modern English Usage 4th Edition

With more than a thousand new entries and more than 2,300 word-frequency ratios, the magisterial fourth edition of this book-now renamed Garner’s Modern English Usage (GMEU)-reflects usage lexicography at its finest. Garner explains the nuances of grammar and vocabulary with thoroughness, finesse, and wit. He discourages whatever is slovenly, pretentious, or pedantic.

GMEU is the liveliest and most compulsively readable reference work for writers of our time. It delights while providing instruction on skillful, persuasive, and vivid writing. Garner liberates English from two extremes: both from the hidebound “purists” who mistakenly believe that split infinitives and sentence-ending prepositions are malfeasances and from the linguistic relativists who believe that whatever people say or write must necessarily be accepted.

The judgments here are backed up not just by a lifetime of study but also by an empirical grounding in the largest linguistic corpus ever available. In this fourth edition, Garner has made extensive use of corpus linguistics to include ratios of standard terms as compared against variants in modern print sources. No other resource provides as comprehensive, reliable, and empirical a guide to current English usage.

For all concerned with writing and editing, GMEU will prove invaluable as a desk reference. Garner illustrates with actual examples, cited with chapter and verse, all the linguistic blunders that modern writers and speakers are prone to, whether in word choice, syntax, phrasing, punctuation, or pronunciation. No matter how knowledgeable you may already be, you’re sure to learn from every single page of this book.

Editorial Reviews


“It is a stupendous achievement for which we should be grateful. You have to like a book which tells you whether spaghetti and meatballs takes a singular or plural verb!” — Ray Ward (Queenâs English Society), Reference Reviews

Praise for previous editions:

“Really, really good… Thorough and timely and solid… Bryan Garner is a genius.”
–David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster

“This is a thorough tour of the language-a major reference work-offering humane instruction in diction, idiom, sentence structure, and much else.”
Wall Street Journal

“Any writing guide published today must compete with the work of Bryan Garner, whose Dictionary of Modern American Usage set a new standard.”
Los Angeles Times

“Thorough, revered, authoritative, and altogether extraordinary.”
-Gary Lutz & Diane Stevenson, The Writer’s Digest Desk Reference

“Garner knows his stuff, and he’s one of the least stuffy grammarians around.”
Arizona Republic
“Authoritative and indispensable.”
–John R. Trimble, Writing with Style
“A magisterial work for language lovers.”
–Arthur Plotnik, Spunk & Bite

“Garner, in this latest update, combines solid erudition, lucid explanations, and sharp, crisp, witty prose. It’s a can’t-do-without reference book. You can just pick it up, open to any page, and start reading for guiltless pleasure.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“The one indispensable book on language published in 2016 is the fourth edition of Garner’s Modern English Usage… Mr. Garner writes with zest and clarity, and although he is an excellent chronicler (how has the language been used?), he is a reliable counselor as well (how should it be used?). Mr. Garner’s guide now exceeds 1,000 pages and includes arrays of real-life example sentences, all duly cited. It is in many ways an atlas of the English language.” —The Wall Street Journal
“The best qualities of Garner’s book are the inclusion of empirical data, including the language-change index rankings and Google’s ngram data. Also, the extensive use of quotations throughout the entries is especially helpful to illustrate his points.” —
inguist List
“[T]he book (and app) will appeal mostly to those seeking Garner’s opinions about unrelated bits of English–opinions that are increasingly constrained or bolstered by objective and quantifiable evidence. For linguists and lexicographers seeking to understand whether a more realistic view of usage among ‘descriptive prescribers’ might be on the horizon, it may also prove an interesting volume.” —Dictionaries

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