Finding the #Write #Words? No. 10 Current English Usage

Continuing the description of books on words in the list from post 1, which you’ll find here.

Book 10: Current English Usage by Frederick T. Wood

Paperback, 304 pages, including one appendix giving the plurals of common foreign, and some English, words. It was published by the Macmillan Press Ltd in 1962; my version is the 1981 edition, with revisions by R.H. Flavell and L.M. Flavell and I paid £3.95 for it. You can obtain a used copy for around £2.50. There appears to be no current edition. The most recent I can find is The Macmillan Dictionary of Current English Usage published by Macmillan Reprints in 1995. It’s a paperback, has 366 pages and is available for £2.95 on Amazon at time of writing

The book is practical guide for those who wish to write good English. It deals, alphabetically, with grammar, punctuation, style, idiom, spelling and modern usage in general. Language is, of course, organic, and it changes over time. But much of the content here remains valid and, with approximately 600 detailed entries, it remains a worthwhile reference source.

I bought this to check the editing of my books prior to sending them to my publisher as I like to do the job as thoroughly as I can.

Opening randomly, at pages 84/85, I find listings as follows:

Page 84 opens at item 3 of a list under the heading ‘do’ and contains the following information:

3 Omission of do

  • I prophesied he would fail, and he did do.

Omit do. Here did is not a substitute verb; it is the emphatic did (short for and he did fail).  With compound tenses, if the non-finite part can be understood and carried over from the previous verb, the substitute do is often omitted: Anyone who has lived in a large industrial town, as I have…(Not as I have done).’

The book continues this list to subsection 6 and the next entry deals with doctor/Dr, explaining the use of each. It continues through documentary, Doomsday/Domesday, double negative, doubt, doubtful, dowry and downstair/downstairs to:


Draft: a draft of money, of soldiers, etc; make a rough draft; to draft a bill, a document, etc.

Draught; a draught of water (or any other kind of drink); the draught of a ship; beer sold on draught; to exclude the draught (from a room, etc) play draughts; a draughtsman.

Draft is the preferred spelling in American English for all meanings.’

English is a complex language, made up of words from many different sources and countries, and it borrows certain rules of grammar, punctuation and even style from the originating countries, which is what makes it both interestingly familiar to learners and frequently frustratingly baffling to those same students.

Students learning the English Language will find help on pronunciation here. And there’s a friendly group on Facebook for those studying the language, which you’ll find here.

Post 2 is here, post 3, post 4, post 5, post 6, post 7, post 8, and post 9 here.

4 thoughts on “Finding the #Write #Words? No. 10 Current English Usage

  1. Isn’t it a risk calling any book title “Current”?. By the time it’s published it may be no longer be “current”. Plus it seems to be a slap in the face to all other books of the same type. It almost seems to say “I’m better than all the other books that came before me”. Another aspect of this book that bothers me is the revisions. Shouldn’t they be done by the author?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Tom.
      Language is organic and changes with time. But, before the advent of the internet, such change was almost imperceptably slow, so such books could remain ‘current’ for many years. The author was unable to make the amendments as he was dead by that time. I think the ‘risk’ of the title was probably justified when it was published. Perhaps, however, the ‘current’ aspect explains why no replacement is now available. Language, especially English, now changes almost daily.


Comments are closed.