Bryan Garner, the American equivalent of the Académie française, has updated his Garner’s Modern English Usage. It’s the 5th edition (the first was published in 1998), and it opens with an exchange at a car rental counter over the use of ‘may’ versus ‘can.’ He writes, “Experiences like that one give me hope: they show that some people still care about our language, however misplaced their concerns might occasionally be.”
If you don’t follow debates about language and grammar closely, the bottom line is this: language changes all the time, which makes it hard to say what’s right or wrong. However, we do need some guidance. Garner’s Modern English Usage is an attempt to grapple with this contradiction in a very practical way. And it is important: your ability to use language correctly shows in every text, every email, every job application or interview. So yes, you can use ‘disinterested’ to indicate a lack of interest, but its misuse will be noticed by some listeners, so why not avoid it? Garner goes through every usage you’ve ever wondered about (internet or Internet?) and many you didn’t (dilemma—a choice between two unpleasant or difficult alternatives—should not be used by slipshod extension for plight or predicament), word by word.