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Think Again Podcasts

Really actually truly great English (with the copy chief of Random House)

Why does Faulkner use "inchoate" so much? Maybe because Benjamin Dreyer wasn't his copy editor. The author of DREYER'S ENGLISH is here to remind us that there's no absolute authority on the English language. Still, please avoid "onboarding".
Key Takeaways
  • Hear! As we play "stump the host" with words everyone spells wrong.
  • Marvel! With us at the exquisiteness of the word "twee"
  • Absorb! Benjamin Dreyer's simple yet powerful advice about how to write better sentences.

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who don’t give a damn about grammar, style, or syntax, and those who write aggrieved letters to publishing houses about split infinitives.

Benjamin Dreyer is neither. As the Copy Chief of Random House, it is his unenviable task to steer the middle way between linguistic pedantry and letting these writers get away with bloody murder. Scratch “bloody”—redundancy.

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Before reading his hilarious and practical new book DREYER’S ENGLISH, I think I would have imagined the Copy Chief of Random House as something like the Arbiter Eligantiae of Ancient Rome—a terrifying, absolute authority on questions of grammatical law and taste. The kind of person who walks around waving a scepter at things to be preserved or destroyed. As the book makes plain, however, there’s no absolute authority when it comes to either taste or correctness in the English language. Still, please avoid “impactful”, “utilize”, and ‘very unique.” And use the Oxford comma. And you can do away with just, really, and actually while you’re at it.


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