On Writing Well - Part I: Chapter 7 Usage Summary & Analysis

William Zinsser
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Part I: Chapter 7 Usage Summary

The issue of what is and what is not proper English usage is often soft, depending more on the writer's taste than on strict rules. The author accepts some unusual words, but not all. His opinion, while serving on the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary, sometimes went with the Panel and sometimes against. Others of the 104-member panel, consisting of writers, poets, editors and teachers, had similar experiences. Zinsser generally agrees that useful words should be kept and traditional grammar should be followed for the most part.

The English language changes all the time because it is a living language as opposed to a dead language, such as Latin. If a language is used continually for business, law, literature, and speaking, new words will always enter into the lexicon. This is especially true as technology advances and new words...

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