Try Garner’s as a Reference for Grammar and Usage

Try Garner’s American Usage as a Reference
So many questions about grammar cannot be answered simply yes/no, either/or. While we tend to think of grammar as cut-and-dried, it’s really more of a reflection of preferred usage at this moment in time—preferred rather than absolutely correct, and only at this moment because a living language is constantly changing. So a grammatical construction you learned in school 40 years ago may be less valid today. That’s less valid, not exactly wrong. Also, word choice, usage and even punctuation vary widely depending on your geography. Each English-speaking country seems to have its own rules.
For all of those reasons, for American writing I like a usage guide that’s not on everyone’s radar: Garner’s American Usage. Most people rely on a stylebook such as the AP Stylebook or the Chicago Manual of Style, or a dictionary like Webster’s or American Heritage. But unlike those references, which provide right-or-wrong information, Garner’s Modern American Usage includes the immensely helpful and sensible “Garner’s Language-Change Index,” a five-stage continuum of acceptability ranging from unacceptable to commonly preferred. Garner’s also is a fun read, adding information about the language and elaborating its points with humor.
A review by School Library Journal published on the Oxford University Press website calls Garner’s “the best of its kind in that it simply reports the facts in an engaging way; language evolves and usage changes. An invaluable ready-reference tool.”
http://www.amazon.com/Garners-Modern-American-Usage-Garner/dp/0195382757/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366214307&sr=8-1&keywords=garner%27s+modern+american+usage
http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Reference/EnglishUsageGuides/?view=usa&ci=9780195382754

So many questions about grammar cannot be answered simply yes/no, either/or. While we tend to think of grammar as cut-and-dried, it’s really more of a reflection of preferred usage at this moment in time—preferred rather than absolutely correct, and only at this moment because a living language is constantly changing. So a grammatical construction you learned in school 40 years ago may be less valid today. That’s less valid, not exactly wrong. Also, word choice, usage and even punctuation vary widely depending on your geography. Each English-speaking country seems to have its own rules.

For all of those reasons, for American memoir writing I like a usage guide that’s not on everyone’s radar: Garner’s American Usage. Most people rely on a stylebook such as the AP Stylebook or the Chicago Manual of Style, or a dictionary like Webster’s or American Heritage. But unlike those references, which gauge each case as right or wrong, Garner’s Modern American Usage includes the immensely helpful and sensible “Garner’s Language-Change Index,” a five-stage continuum of acceptability ranging from unacceptable to commonly preferred. Garner’s also is a fun read, adding information about the language and elaborating its points with humor.

A review by School Library Journal published on the Oxford University Press website calls Garner’s “the best of its kind in that it simply reports the facts in an engaging way; language evolves and usage changes. An invaluable ready-reference tool.”