Dreyer’s English: utterly useful and funny

James Burgess | July 31, 2019

We’re suckers for books about writing, so when we heard about Dreyer’s English we picked up a copy.

As copy chief (among other things) at Random House, Benjamin Dreyer has huge experience of copyediting, proofreading, and overseeing the production of books by many famous authors.

image, the cover of Dreyer's English by Benjamin Dreyer on a coffee table with a sandwich.

We highly recommend Dreyer’s English as an entertaining, informative read. Image by SJValentine75. Refreshing Wednesday licence.

Dreyer has Opinions about writing. Some useful, some funny, and some (many) both. Alongside useful examples (the zombies by who passive-voice actions could have been done, and whether using ‘whom’ is correct or old-fashioned) you’ll find anecdotes about writers and editors, and plenty of footnotes-for-amusement.


Q. Two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence, right?

A. Wrong. I know that back when you were in seventh-grade typing class and pecking away at your Smith Corona Coronet Automatic 12, Mrs. Tegnell taught you to type a double space after a sentence-ending period, but you are no longer in the seventh grade, you are no longer typing on a typewriter, and Mrs. Tegnell is no longer looking over your shoulder.


Dreyer’s English is a cross between a reference book and a set of essays on language. You’ll find the book easier to pick up (mentally and physically) than the Chicago Manual of Style, and at least 60% as likely to solve the question you had. It’s also a book you could read cover to cover, or dip into for interest rather than for reference.

We can’t decide where to file it in our library, but it spends most of its time on someone’s desk, so maybe that’s not such a big problem.

Keen to be more like Dreyer?

We can’t promise to turn you into another Benjamin Dreyer, but try our Editing and Proofreading workshop for a step in the right direction — or get in touch if you’d like us to wield our red pen over your draft.

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