The Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr.
The Elements of Style
William Strunk, Jr.
1:10 h Science Lvl 9.64
The Elements of Style is an American English writing style guide in numerous editions. This book is the original one, composed by William Strunk Jr. in 1918, and published by Harcourt in 1920, comprising eight "elementary rules of usage", ten "elementary principles of composition", "a few matters of form", a list of 49 "words and expressions commonly misused", and a list of 57 "words often misspelled". Strunk concentrated on the cultivation of good writing and composition; the original 1918 edition exhorted writers to "omit needless words", use the active voice, and employ parallelism appropriately. The Elements of Style was listed as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923 by "Time" in its 2011 list. Upon its release, Charles Poor, writing for The New York Times, called it "a splendid trophy for all who are interested in reading and writing."

The Elements of Style

by
William Strunk, Jr.


I. Introductory

This book is intended for use in English courses in which the practice of composition is combined with the study of literature. It aims to give in a brief space the principal requirements of plain English style. It aims to lighten the task of instructor and student by concentrating attention (in Chapters II and III) on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated. The numbers of the sections may be used as references in correcting manuscript.

The book covers only a small portion of the field of English style, but the experience of its writer has been that once past the essentials, students profit most by individual instruction based on the problems of their own work, and that each instructor has his own body of theory, which he prefers to that offered by any textbook.

The writer’s colleagues in the Department of English in Cornell University have greatly helped him in the preparation of his manuscript. Mr. George McLane Wood has kindly consented to the inclusion under Rule 11 of some material from his Suggestions to Authors.

The following books are recommended for reference or further study: in connection with Chapters II and IV:

In connection with Chapters III and V:

It is an old observation that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric. When they do so, however, the reader will usually find in the sentence some compensating merit, attained at the cost of the violation. Unless he is certain of doing as well, he will probably do best to follow the rules. After he has learned, by their guidance, to write plain English adequate for everyday uses, let him look, for the secrets of style, to the study of the masters of literature.


II. Elementary Rules of Usage

1. Form the Possessive Singular of Nouns with ’s

Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,

Charles’s friend
Burns’s poems
the witch’s malice

This is the usage of the United States Government Printing Office and of the Oxford University Press.

Exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names in -es and -is, the possessive Jesus’, and such forms as for conscience’ sake, for righteousness’ sake. But such forms as Achilles’ heel, Moses’ laws, Isis’ temple are commonly replaced by

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