Book review: Make grammar great again (May 2018)

by Margie Beilharz


What do you do when Donald Trump becomes president of the United States? Stop watching the news? Book a flight into space? Hope the next four years will pass really quickly?

Melbourne copyeditor Meredith Forrester took a more proactive approach. Irritated by the President’s language-mangling tweets, she took it upon herself to respond with corrections. 

I imagine the President paid no attention, but in the way the world works nowadays, a publisher did. Now Meredith has turned her campaign for better grammar into a book, Make grammar great again (Craftsman House, 2017).

It’s a great idea, and actually a great little book. Meredith gives the President (and us) great advice – on hyphens, commas, capital letters (which are not needed for Important Things and look VERY SHOUTY), pronouns, dashes and more. 

She gets examples of errors from his @realDonaldTrump tweets, which isn’t hard – this was one of the first examples I found in his feed:


And her example sentences are pointed and often funny: 

  • On the role of the question mark: Is collusion an impeachable offence?
  • On quotation marks: Apparently, he wanted Melania’s hand for ‘just a bit of stability’.

I imagine that most editors would already know what Meredith explains, but it is a great refresher if you feel a bit out of touch. And it’s not scary for non-editors: my daughter picked it up and read it – and used Meredith’s advice on comma usage in one of her uni essays.

I recommend it for anyone who would benefit from, or simply enjoy, a user-friendly explanation of how to avoid common grammar pitfalls. But not for Donald Trump fans.

Make grammar great again by Meredith Forrester, Craftsman House, 2017, $16.99.

Margie is a freelance editor at The Open Desk, and communication officer and newsletter editor for Editors Victoria.