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February 10 , 2008

Grammar Gremlins


Syndicated columnist and grammarian, Don K. Ferguson is an inveterate note-taker, recording mistakes in grammar or word usage and when observing an incorrect punctuation mark. Accumulating a small mountain of short, cryptic notes, Ferguson wondered how they might be made useful. Out of these thoughts, Ferguson’s column “Grammar Gremlins” was born and now this book.
    Ferguson’s work should not be confused with a “school lesson,” nothing boring or schoolteacherish, in a nineteenth century stereotypical sense of the word. The reader will find this book interesting and charming; and consistent with our age of sound bites and demands for brevity, the segments are mercifully short but energized with useful, interesting, and thoughtful information.
    Ferguson’s material comes from snippets of conversations overheard on the street, from correspondence that crosses his desk, from public speakers, and from brochures and pamphlets, among many other sources. It seems that no one is exempt from grammar and usage problems. Ferguson reminds us that there are no laws of grammar that you must obey, only rules. Our use of the English language is one of the key standards by which we are measured—socially, professionally, and academically.
    Grammar Gremlins can help us. Read some of it each day. Better still, keep it handy for quick reference. It will help you resolve those nagging little grammar questions you encounter.

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    “The book’s excellent index . . . makes looking up questionable forms very easy. . . so if you’re wondering where to put that comma or whether it is ever correct to end a sentence with a preposition, this book is for you.” Chattanooga Free Press
    “Don Ferguson’s columns have been collected and published in a book under the same name by Glenbridge Publishing Ltd., providing a handy, easy-to-read, easy-to-use reference for the most common grammar and usage problems all writers face. . . believe it or not, he has figured out how to make grammar fun.” The East Tennessee Catholic

DON K. FERGUSON is a former city editor of The Knoxville News-Sentinel and previously served as a News-Sentinel and UPI reporter for fifteen years. His newspaper column “Grammar Gremlins” is published by nine newspapers in four states. He has presented programs at both state and national meetings in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. He has taught grammar courses at the University of Tennessee. Ferguson is currently chief deputy clerk of the United States District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee.


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