Brilliant and Funny, Dreyer Makes his Editorial Marks

Dreyer’s English

An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style
Written by: Benjamin Dreyer
Read by: Benjamin Dreyer & Alison Fraser
Duration: 9 Hours and 39 Minutes
PRHA | Imprint: Random House Audio
Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines – Grammar & Punctuation
Release Date: January 29, 2019

I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


A witty, informative guide to writing from Random House’s longtime copy chief and one of Twitter’s leading language gurus—in the tradition of The Elements of Style
“Utterly delightful . . . will stand among the classics on how to use the English language properly.”—Elizabeth Strout

We all write, all the time: books, blogs, emails. Lots and lots of emails. And we all want to write better. Benjamin Dreyer is here to help.

As Random House’s copy chief, Dreyer has upheld the standards of the legendary publisher for more than two decades. He is beloved by authors and editors alike—not to mention his followers on social media—for deconstructing the English language with playful erudition. Now he distills everything he has learned from the myriad books he has copyedited and overseen into a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best prose foot forward.

As authoritative as it is amusing, Dreyer’s English offers lessons on punctuation, from the underloved semicolon to the enigmatic en dash; the rules and nonrules of grammar, including why it’s OK to begin a sentence with “And” or “But” and to confidently split an infinitive; and why it’s best to avoid the doldrums of the Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers, including “very,” “rather,” “of course,” and the dreaded “actually.” Dreyer will let you know whether “alright” is all right (sometimes) and even help you brush up on your spelling—though, as he notes, “The problem with mnemonic devices is that I can never remember them.”

And yes: “Only godless savages eschew the series comma.”

Chockful of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts, this book will prove to be invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills, mandatory for people who spend their time editing and shaping other people’s prose, and—perhaps best of all—an utter treat for anyone who simply revels in language.

My Take Oblong Shaped

Dreyer’s English
– which title I have placed in italics as Mr. Dreyer recommends commands, is hilarious, and informative. I don;t get the chance to review many audiobooks before publication but I am thrilled to offer an early review of this outstanding resource.  Mr. Dreyer and the characters narrator, Alison Fraser are superb.  I like non-fiction read by the writer as it enhances the authority. But I also just adore Dreyer’s sly, snarky wit.  I think he’s right up there with David Sedaris for the making me laugh.  I think I could almost hear his eyes rolling as he narrated. 

He doesn’t steer away from political comments that give you a distinct impression on where he stands in the political spectrum. He also inserts a few remarks about sex in books, but it is all in good taste.

All around this is a great book filled with so much about spelling, punctuation, grammar, and style, I think it is a fabulous style book. I loved the recommendation that how a piece of writing sounds as useful to test the punctuation.

The audio format in reference books is almost always difficult.  Here however, aside from the funny parts there is the technical parts: when to use commas or semi-colons, how to properly format the copy, and spelling.   To be sure he infuses them with bon mots, but it is hard to listen to someone spelling and punctuating.

I loved the listen, but if I had to choose, I would read it in print.  Its usefulness as an audiobook is limited.  I think he knows this as he says to always check certain spellings.  That’s hard to do in this format. 

Loved the book, and the writing, and the narration.  But, as a reference book, it will be better in print.



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