Why do we all employ "filler" phrases like "sort of" and "you know"? what is the difference between "attractive" and "not attractive"? when is a preposition the correct word to end a sentence with? and can it ever be acceptable to boldly split an infinitive? Many people care deeply about English usage, and many more are concerned about making mistakes.
In this classic guide, David Crystal surveys the key controversies with wit, common sense, some entertaining quizzes and linguist's sharp insight into the ways we actually speak and write. He explores the dispute about the word "dispute" - is it pronounced "DIS-pute" or "dis-PUTE"? - the fate of the letter T in "often", and the best way of referring to the, er, bathroom. Language, he argues, should be a tool and not our master, and it is always profoundly marked by social trends such as changing gender roles.
Hopefully (if that's the right word), we can all acquire greater linguistic sensitivity without imposing on ourselves a strait-jacket of rigid conformity. This book offers both reassurance and help.