Write to the Point by Sam Leith review – a useful, persuasive guide to English usage

Language has rules but no umpire – and the standard approach changes all the time

Language has rules, but there’s no umpire: this is the starting point for Sam Leith’s guide to correct or, more precisely, standard English usage. He goes on to explore how those standards shift and evolve with time, preference and situation, but Leith is neither dry nor academic. He offers succinct advice for those who want to write anything from a letter of complaint to a blog post, confidently and clearly. Presented in conversational style, it’s an interesting counterpoint to Simon Heffer’s Simply English, to which Leith refers on the very first page. While Heffer revels in pulling up “barbaric” crimes against language, Leith is more measured and believes that, while knowledge of “the rules” is useful, an ear for what sounds best in the right context is even better. The final sections, covering language ...