Anyone who has taken more than one English class will recognize many
of Strunk and White's style rules. Each rule includes a least one and
sometimes several examples which provide some of the clearest
demonstrations of good and bad style. Many writers still practice
these rules today, but some rules fall short when applied to
conventional modern usage. For example, one rule states that writers
can use he as a universal, singular pronoun meaning any single
person. In modern usage burdened with political correctness, such a
usage would quickly receive the label "sexist" and, in fact, has
quickly fallen out of practice. Since one cannot easily determine the
status of Strunk and White's rules, I recommend using a more modern
reference like The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., or any
other modern style as an everyday reference guide before looking here.
The Elements of Style still has its uses. Writers can use it
as a quick refresher on many points of style, grammar, and usage.
Chapter 5, "An Approach to Style" reminds writers to always consider
their audience and to use good, clear writing techniques.
Reading Strunk and White frequently will help keep your mind on
track -- subconsciously alerting you to possible problems in your
writing. Just be sure you know enough modern usage to be able to
discern how much weight to give each rule.
Read more of my reviews at interrogation reports.
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