Book of the Month
Word for Word
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Authors: Stewart Clark, Graham Pointon

250 pages.

ISBN: 019 432755 8
Price: 11.30

Upper intermediate/Advanced

This book does just one job - it takes easily confused words and explains the difference between them. So if you have ever needed to know the difference between 'pitiable' (deserving of pity) or 'pitiful' (hopelessly inadequate), this is the book for you. The book gives definitions of 3000 words, and is a useful resource not just for students of English, but anyone who uses English professionally. For example, even many English journalists make the mistake of saying 'disinterested' (not having a personal reason to support one side or the other) when they mean 'uninterested'. For example, the referee in a football game is disinterested, but he should not be uninterested!

The book also describes differences between American and British English. For example, if you are English, you would walk along the pavement of a road. But over the Atlantic, the pavement is the covering of the road itself. Cars drive on the pavement, and pedestrians go on the sidewalk. There are small drawings on some pages, illustrating some errors, such as what happens when a tunnel is measured with engineers, instead of by engineers.

There are also useful little tip boxes on some pages giving advice in English usage. For example, one box describes what a split infinitive is, and correctly says that splitting infinitives is not necessarily a bad thing in modern English. Other boxes give advice on things like countable nouns, and when to capitalize letters. The phonetic pronunciation of the words is also given.

Who is this book for? Anyone who needs to make sure that they use the correct word in their text. As many students write to our AskProf column asking which word they should use in a particular situation, there is certainly a need for a book like this. You can see more about this book, and also see some sample pages by going to and using search to find the title.

Verdict: Good - but slightly expensive.
Assessment 7/10
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