General language topics

The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage

ROBERT BURCHFIELD Oxford University Press

Revised third edition. A superb authority since 1926 (first edition).

The Oxford Guide to English Usage

EDMUND WEINER AND ANDREW DELAHUNTY Oxford University Press

Clear, crisp and thorough guide to current use of English.

teach yourself correct english

A.A. PHYTHIAN AND ALBERT ROWE teach yourself

Sounds dull and forbidding, but isn’t. Readable and covers a lot of useful topics in a short space.

Mother Tongue

BILL BRYSON Penguin Language/Linguistics

Witty, intelligent look at how English developed and is used today. Not a reference textbook, but packed with nuggets.

The King’s English

KINGSLEY AMIS HarperCollins

Brilliant and eccentric scan of interesting words.

The Stories of English

DAVID CRYSTAL Penguin

The most famous professor of English language today discusses many aspects of English. Intelligent, but not a specialist academic book. If you like exploring English, try this Aladdin’s cave.

The Guardian Stylebook

DAVID MARSH AND NIKKI MARSHALL Guardian Books

Learn how the Grauniad achieves the accuracy and consistency of expression that elude less rigorous masters of the language. Witty, authoritative and instantly usable.

The Economist Style Guide

Profile Books Ltd

We like this a lot. Everyone who writes regularly should have one at their desk.

The Elements of Style

STRUNK AND WHITE Longman

Brilliant little book by authors who really cared about using language well. Blows apart the silly notion that Americans cannot write English.

Plain English for Lawyers

RICHARD WYDICK Carolina Academic Press

Another superb lesson from America in how to write well. Wydick is a professor of law and a gifted writer. This book is not just for lawyers, although they will find it invaluable.

Lifting the Fog of Legalese

JOSEPH KIMBLE Carolina Academic Press

Same comments as for Wydick, who says “This book belongs in the library of every lawyer who takes language seriously.”