OLIVER STRUNK: 'THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE' (4th edition). First published in . (* E. B. White wrote this introduction for the edition.) I passed the course, . TheElements of Style byWilliam Strunk, Jr. Professor of English Cornell University Privately Printed Ithaca, New Yor. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition · Read more · The Elements of Style, Fourth The Elements of Style, 4th Edition. Read more · The Elements of UML Style.
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Nor does it hold in periodic sentences in which the interruption is a deliberately used means of creating suspense see examples under Rule The relative pronoun should come, as a rule, immediately after its antecedent.
There was a look in his eye that boded mischief. In his eye was a look that boded mischief. He wrote three articles about his adventures in Spain, which were published in Harper's Magazine. He published in Harper's Magazine three articles about his adventures in Spain. He became President in If the antecedent consists of a group of words, the relative comes at the end of the group, unless this would cause ambiguity.
The Superintendent of the Chicago Division, who A proposal to amend the Sherman Act, which has been variously judged A proposal to amend the much-debated Sherman Act A proposal, which has been variously judged, to amend the Sherman Act The grandson of William Henry Harrison, who William Henry Harrison's grandson, Benjamin Harrison, who A noun in apposition may come between antecedent and relative, because in such a combination no real ambiguity can arise. The Duke of York, his brother, who was regarded with hostility by the Whigs Modifiers should come, if possible next to the word they modify.
If several expressions modify the same word, they should be so arranged that no wrong relation is suggested. All the members were not present.
Not all the members were present. He only found two mistakes. He found only two mistakes. Major R. Joyce will give a lecture on Tuesday evening in Bailey Hall, to which the public is invited, on "My Experiences in Mesopotamia" at eight P. On Tuesday evening at eight P. In summaries, keep to one tense.
In summarizing the action of a drama, the writer should always use the present tense.
In summarizing a poem, story, or novel, he should preferably use the present, though he may use the past if he prefers. If the summary is in the present tense, antecedent action should be expressed by the perfect; if in the past, by the past perfect. Juliet, meanwhile, owing to her father's arbitrary change of the day set for her wedding, has been compelled to drink the potion on Tuesday night, with the result that Balthasar informs Romeo of her supposed death before Friar Lawrence learns of the nondelivery of the letter.
But whichever tense be used in the summary, a past tense in indirect discourse or in indirect question remains unchanged. The Legate inquires who struck the blow. Apart from the exceptions noted, whichever tense the writer chooses, he should use throughout. Shifting from one tense to the other gives the appearance of uncertainty and irresolution compare Rule In presenting the statements or the thought of some one else, as in summarizing an essay or reporting a speech, the writer should avoid intercalating such expressions as "he said," "he stated," "the speaker added," "the speaker then went on to say," "the author also thinks," or the like.
He should indicate clearly at the outset, once for all, that what follows is summary, and then waste no words in repeating the notification. In notebooks, in newspapers, in handbooks of literature, summaries of one kind or another may be indispensable, and for children in primary schools it is a useful exercise to retell a story in their own words.
But in the criticism or interpretation of literature the writer should be careful to avoid dropping into summary. He may find it necessary to devote one or two sentences to indicating the subject, or the opening situation, of the work he is discussing; he may cite numerous details to illustrate its qualities. But he should aim to write an orderly discussion supported by evidence, not a summary with occasional comment.
Similarly, if the scope of his discussion includes a number of works, he will as a rule do better not to take them up singly in chronological order, but to aim from the beginning at establishing general conclusions.
Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end. The proper place for the word, or group of words, which the writer desires to make most prominent is usually the end of the sentence. Humanity has hardly advanced in fortitude since that time, though it has advanced in many other ways.
Humanity, since that time, has advanced in many other ways, but it has hardly advanced in fortitude. This steel is principally used for making razors, because of its hardness. Because of its hardness, this steel is principally used in making razors.
The word or group of words entitled to this position of prominence is usually the logical predicate, that is, the new element in the sentence, as it is in the second example. The effectiveness of the periodic sentence arises from the prominence which it gives to the main statement. Four centuries ago, Christopher Columbus, one of the Italian mariners whom the decline of their own republics had put at the service of the world and of adventure, seeking for Spain a westward passage to the Indies as a set-off against the achievements of Portuguese discoverers, lighted on America.
With these hopes and in this belief I would urge you, laying aside all hindrance, thrusting away all private aims, to devote yourselves unswervingly and unflinchingly to the vigorous and successful prosecution of this war.
The other prominent position in the sentence is the beginning.
Any element in the sentence, other than the subject, becomes emphatic when placed first. Deceit or treachery he could never forgive. So vast and rude, fretted by the action of nearly three thousand years, the fragments of this architecture may often seem, at first sight, like works of nature.
A subject coming first in its sentence may be emphatic, but hardly by its position alone. In the sentence, Great kings worshipped at his shrine, the emphasis upon kings arises largely from its meaning and from the context.
To receive special emphasis, the subject of a sentence must take the position of the predicate. Through the middle of the valley flowed a winding stream. The principle that the proper place for what is to be made most prominent is the end applies equally to the words of a sentence, to the sentences of a paragraph, and to the paragraphs of a composition.
The Elements of Style IV. A Few Matters of Form Headings. Leave a blank line, or its equivalent in space, after the title or heading of a manuscript. On succeeding pages, if using ruled paper, begin on the first line. Do not spell out dates or other serial numbers.
Write them in figures or in Roman notation, as may be appropriate. A sentence containing an expression in parenthesis is punctuated, outside of the marks of parenthesis, exactly as if the expression in parenthesis were absent. The expression within is punctuated as if it stood by itself, except that the final stop is omitted unless it is a question mark or an exclamation point. I went to his house yesterday my third attempt to see him , but he had left town.
He declares and why should we doubt his good faith? When a wholly detached expression or sentence is parenthesized, the final stop comes before the last mark of parenthesis.
Formal quotations, cited as documentary evidence, are introduced by a colon and enclosed in quotation marks. The provision of the Constitution is: I recall the maxim of La Rochefoucauld, "Gratitude is a lively sense of benefits to come. Wordsworth's enthusiasm for the Revolution was at first unbounded: Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven! Quotations introduced by that are regarded as in indirect discourse and not enclosed in quotation marks.
Keats declares that beauty is truth, truth beauty. Proverbial expressions and familiar phrases of literary origin require no quotation marks.
These are the times that try men's souls. He lives far from the madding crowd. The same is true of colloquialisms and slang. In scholarly work requiring exact references, abbreviate titles that occur frequently, giving the full forms in an alphabetical list at the end.
As a general practice, give the references in parenthesis or in footnotes, not in the body of the sentence. Omit the words act, scene, line, book, volume, page, except when referring by only one of them. Punctuate as indicated below. In the second scene of the third act In III. For the titles of literary works, scholarly usage prefers italics with capitalized initials. The usage of editors and publishers varies, some using italics with capitalized initials, others using Roman with capitalized initials and with or without quotation marks.
Use italics indicated in manuscript by underscoring , except in writing for a periodical that follows a different practice. Omit initial A or The from titles when you place the possessive before them. The Elements of Style V.
Words and Expressions Commonly Misused Many of the words and expressions here listed are not so much bad English as bad style, the commonplaces of careless writing.
As illustrated under Feature, the proper correction is likely to be not the replacement of one word or set of words by another, but the replacement of vague generality by definite statement. All right. Idiomatic in familiar speech as a detached phrase in the sense, "Agreed," or "Go ahead. Always written as two words. As good or better than. Expressions of this type should be corrected by rearranging the sentence. My opinion is as good or better than his.
My opinion is as good as his, or better if not better. As to whether. Whether is sufficient; see under Rule Takes the infinitive without to. The past tense is bade. The Concise Oxford Dictionary begins its definition of this word: In many cases, the rooms were poorly ventilated.
Many of the rooms were poorly ventilated. It has rarely been the case that any mistake has been made. Few mistakes have been made. See Wood, Suggestions to Authors, pp. Used indiscriminately by some speakers, much as others use very, to intensify any and every statement. A mannerism of this kind, bad in speech, is even worse in writing. Often simply redundant, used from a mere habit of wordiness.
Acts of a hostile character Hostile acts Claim, vb. With object-noun, means lay claim to. May be used with a dependent clause if this sense is clearly involved: Not to be used as a substitute for declare, maintain, or charge. To compare to is to point out or imply resemblances, between objects regarded as essentially of different order; to compare with is mainly to point out differences, between objects regarded as essentially of the same order.
Thus life has been compared to a pilgrimage, to a drama, to a battle; Congress may be compared with the British Parliament. Paris has been compared to ancient Athens; it may be compared with modern London. This word has been greatly overused; it is best restricted to ingenuity displayed in small matters.
Not followed by as when it means, "believe to be.
A needless substitute for reliable, trustworthy. Due to. Incorrectly used for through, because of, or owing to, in adverbial phrases: As noun, means result; as verb, means to bring about, accomplish not to be confused with affect, which means "to influence". As noun, often loosely used in perfunctory writing about fashions, music, painting, and other arts: Not to be used of persons.
Equivalent to and the rest, and so forth, and hence not to be used if one of these would be insufficient, that is, if the reader would be left in doubt as to any important particulars.
Least open to objection when it represents the last terms of a list already given in full, or immaterial words at the end of a quotation. At the end of a list introduced by such as, for example, or any similar expression, etc.
Use this word only of matters of a kind capable of direct verification, not of matters of judgment. That a particular event happened on a given date, that lead melts at a certain temperature, are facts. But such conclusions as that Napoleon was the greatest of modern generals, or that the climate of California is delightful, however incontestable they may be, are not properly facts.
On the formula the fact that, see under Rule A hackneyed word; the expressions of which it forms part can usually be replaced by something more direct and idiomatic. His superior training was the great factor in his winning the match.
He won the match by being better trained. Heavy artillery is becoming an increasingly important factor in deciding battles. Heavy artillery is playing a larger and larger part in deciding battles. Another hackneyed word; like factor it usually adds nothing to the sentence in which it occurs. A feature of the entertainment especially worthy of mention was the singing of Miss A.
Better use the same number of words to tell what Miss A. As a verb, in the advertising sense of offer as a special attraction, to be avoided. Colloquial in America for arrange, prepare, mend. In writing restrict it to its literary senses, fasten, make firm or immovable, etc. He is a man who. A common type of redundant expression; see Rule He is a man who is very ambitious.
He is very ambitious. I have always Spain is a country which I wanted to visit have always Spain. In the meaning nevertheless, not to come first in its sentence or clause. The roads were almost impassable. However, we at last succeeded in reaching camp. At last, however, we succeeded in reaching camp.
When however comes first, it means in whatever way or to whatever extent. However you advise him, he will probably do as he thinks best. However discouraging the prospect, he never lost heart. Kind of. Not to be used as a substitute for rather before adjectives and verbs , or except in familiar style, for something like before nouns.
Restrict it to its literal sense: Should not be misused for fewer.
He had less men than in the previous campaign. He had fewer men than in the previous campaign. Less refers to quantity, fewer to number. Line, along these lines. Line in the sense of course of procedure, conduct, thought, is allowable, but has been so much overworked, particularly in the phrase along these lines, that a writer who aims at freshness or originality had better discard it entirely. He is studying He is studying along the line French of French literature.
Literal, literally. Often incorrectly used in support of exaggeration or violent metaphor. A literal flood of abuse A flood of abuse Literally dead with fatigue Almost dead with fatigue dead tired Lose out. Meant to be more emphatic than lose, but actually less so, because of its commonness. The same holds true of try out, win out, sign up, register up. With a number of verbs, out and up form idiomatic combinations: Lose out is not.
Not to be used for almost. Most everybody Almost everybody Most all the time Almost all the time Nature. Often simply redundant, used like character. Acts of a hostile nature Hostile acts Often vaguely used in such expressions as "a lover of nature;" "poems about nature. Near by. Adverbial phrase, not yet fully accepted as good English, though the analogy of close by and hard by seems to justify it.
Near, or near at hand, is as good, if not better. Not to be used as an adjective; use neighboring. Oftentimes, ofttimes. Archaic forms, no longer in good use. The modern word is often. One hundred and one. Retain the and in this and similar expressions, in accordance with the unvarying usage of English prose from Old English times.
One of the most. Avoid beginning essays or paragraphs with this formula, as, "One of the most interesting developments of modern science is, etc. The people is a political term, not to be confused with the public. From the people comes political support or opposition; from the public comes artistic appreciation or commercial patronage.
The word people is not to be used with words of number, in place of persons. If of "six people" five went away, how many "people" would be left?
Means a stage of transition or development: Another phase Another point of the subject another question Possess. Not to be used as a mere substitute for have or own. He possessed He had great great courage. He was the fortunate possessor of He owned Respective, respectively. These words may usually be omitted with advantage. Works of fiction are listed under the names of their respective authors. Works of fiction are listed under the names of their authors.
A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.
This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that he make every word tell. The fourth edition of The Elements of Style , published 54 years after Strunk's death, omits his stylistic advice about masculine pronouns: "unless the antecedent is or must be feminine". White, an afterword by the American cultural commentator Charles Osgood , a glossary, and an index.
Five years later, the fourth edition text was re-published as The Elements of Style Illustrated , with illustrations by the designer Maira Kalman. This edition excludes the afterword by Charles Osgood and restores the first edition chapter on spelling.
Reception[ edit ] The Elements of Style was listed as one of the best and most influential books written in English since by Time in its list. In criticizing The Elements of Style, Geoffrey Pullum , professor of linguistics at the University of Edinburgh , and co-author of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language , said that: The book's toxic mix of purism, atavism, and personal eccentricity is not underpinned by a proper grounding in English grammar. It is often so misguided that the authors appear not to notice their own egregious flouting of its own rules It's sad.
If you're blessed with the copy-editing gene you can't just switch it off. I have the same In her charming essay, "Insert a Carrot", Anne Fadiman describes a trait shared by everyone in her family - a heightened sensitivity to the flaws in other people's writing.
I have the same problem. When I read, typographical and grammatical errors leap off the page, assailing my eyeballs, demanding to be noticed. A distraction that I am incapable of ignoring, they hijack my attention and diminish my respect for the author. I want my own writing to be free of such distractions; it should be forceful and persuasive. I welcome constructive advice that helps me attain that goal.
My copy of "Modern American Usage" is grubby and well-thumbed. I think its author, Bryan A. Garner, has accomplished something quite remarkable. He has written a usage guide that gives writers clear, concrete, reasoned advice, without being overly dogmatic or erring on the side of sloppiness. I hate sloppy writing. I also hate Strunk and White. Its popularity is inexplicable to me. Here are just a few of my objections: 1.