Garner's Modern American Usage

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Garner's Modern American Usage
Author Bryan A. Garner
Country United States
Language English
Subject Style guide
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 1008 (third edition)
ISBN 978-0195382754
OCLC 475856214
LC Class PE2827.G37 2009

Garner's Modern American Usage, edited by Bryan Garner, is a usage guide for contemporary American English. It covers issues of usage, pronunciation, and style, from distinctions among commonly confused words and phrases and notes on how to prevent verbosity and obscurity. In addition, it contains essays about the English language.


The first edition was published in 1998 as A Dictionary of Modern American Usage. In 2003 the second edition was published under the current title with a third more content than its predecessor.[1] A third edition was published in August 2009. Oxford University Press has also published an abridged, paperback edition of Modern American Usage as The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style (2000).


Novelist David Foster Wallace said, "The fact of the matter is that Garner's dictionary is extremely good .... Its format ... includes entries on individual words and phrases and expostulative small-cap mini-essays."[2] (An unabridged, much lengthier version of Wallace's essay, "Authority and American Usage", appeared in a 2006 anthology of essays entitled Consider the Lobster.) Garrison Keillor has called Garner's Modern American Usage one of the five most influential books in his library. Other critics, including John Simon, William Safire, Bill Walsh, and Barbara Wallraff, have praised the book's clear, simple, and nuanced guidance.

Michael Quinion of said in his review[1] that usage guides "row a course against the current of modern lexicography and linguistics", which are descriptive fields that often fail to "meet the day-to-day needs of those users of English who want to speak and write in a way that is acceptable to educated opinion.” Quinion opined that Garner lays down rules without falling victim to "worn-out shibboleths or language superstitions".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b World Wide Words: Garner’s Modern American Usage
  2. ^ Wallace, David Foster (April 2001). "Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the Wars over Usage". Harper's Magazine. Harper's Magazine Foundation. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 

Similar works[edit]

  • Modern American Usage by Wilson Follett
  • A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by Henry W. Fowler
  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, the authoritative guide to American English publishing style and markup by the University of Chicago Press
  • The Complete Plain Words by Sir Ernest Gowers
  • "The Cambridge Guide to English Usage" by Pam Peters
  • "The Most Common Errors in English Usage and How to Avoid Them" by Elaine Bender.
  • "When Bad Grammar Happens to Good People: How to Avoid Common Errors in English" by Ann Batko
  • "Plain Style" by Christopher Lasch
  • "Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage" by Merriam-Webster
  • "Usage and Abusage" by Eric Partridge
  • "The New Fowler's Modern English Usage" by R. W. Burchfield
  • "The King's English" by H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler
  • "The Standard of Usage in English" by Thomas R. Lounsbury
  • "Writer's Guide and Index to English" by Porter G. Perrin
  • "Dos, Don'ts & Maybes of English Usage" by Theodore M. Bernstein
  • "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser
  • "How to Be Brief: An Index to Simple Writing" by Rudolf Flesch.