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This is the fourth in a series of posts about the references writers and editors should have on their physical or virtual bookshelf. Usage Guides Usage guides explain issues of confused or disputed use of the English language. The best ones provide historical perspective on usage problems, give advice on present-day usage, and provide quotations to illustrate usage and show changes over time. Usage can cover a wide range of issues, such as grammar, syntax, commonly confused words, capitalization, alternative spellings, and idioms. Here are a few examples of common usage issues: they/them/their as a gender-neutral singular pronoun, as in “A person can’t help their birth.” “alright” vs. “all right” “shall” vs. “will” “that” vs. “which” “it is I” vs. “it is me” “less” vs. “fewer” “different than” vs. “different from” My favorite usage guide is Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage. After I bought the book, I showed it to my husband, but he didn’t show much interest at the time.... ‎· courant
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