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Old 08-16-2008, 10:58 PM   #1
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English Grammar books

Hey folks,

I'm looking to brush up on my speaking and writing skills, as it's been some time since I've had any formal study on the subject. Would anyone be kind enough to make some recommendations on some grammar books that would be of some benefit?

Thanks!!!!
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Old 08-17-2008, 01:29 AM   #2
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Strunk & White
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:56 AM   #3
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As Kovid says, Strunk & White's Elements of Style is right up there as a first-y for grammar.

Following that, and with slightly more entertainment value, Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a good read, and very popular. I enjoyed it, though her attitude sometimes left me thinking she couldn't see the substance of the forest for the style of the "leaves". I'd still recommend it though.

Don Watson's Death Sentence and Weasel Words are great for showing the "decay of language", driven from corporate doublespeak into political doublespeak. The former book is a cogent argument and advisory and a wonderful read, and the second more of a good reference. I recommend at least the former in conjunction with Lynn Truss's book, as it is referring to the "substance" of communication that I find is missing in Lynn's quest for the correctly placed apostrophe and comma. I think it (and Weasel Words if you're so inclined) will serve you well in both speaking and writing.

The above four are my current sum of such texts. I look forward to other recommendations.

Cheers,
Marc

Last edited by montsnmags; 08-17-2008 at 03:59 AM.
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Old 08-17-2008, 05:07 AM   #4
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The classic book for British English is "Fowler's Modern English Usage".
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Old 08-17-2008, 05:59 AM   #5
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The classic book for British English is "Fowler's Modern English Usage".
Are you happy with (assuming you have it) the third edition?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fowler%...Usage#Editions

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 08-17-2008, 06:12 AM   #6
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Hi Mark,

I have a version from the 1960s, but I don't think it's changed very much since them.

I like the fact that it is "descriptive" than "prescriptive". The English language is a living entity, and looking at the way that it actually is used can only be a good thing, I think.

One of my "pet hates" are people who insist on using the artificial monstrosities of "fake grammar" invented by Victorian grammarians who tried (fruitlessly) to force English into the mould of Latin grammar, and told us that we should say "It is I" rather than "It is me", for example . English is not Latin, and it's perfectly OK that English should do some things differently to Latin. I wonder if French has people who believe that one should say "c'est je" rather than "c'est moi"?
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:02 AM   #7
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...
I like the fact that it is "descriptive" than "prescriptive". The English language is a living entity, and looking at the way that it actually is used can only be a good thing, I think.
...
Thanks, Harry. My mind tends toward the same opinion as yours, but with less experience and knowledge, so I was interested in how you felt about it. You elaborated more than I'd anticipated too, so, thanks for that.

Along those lines, it looks like you have me purchasing yet another book.

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:23 AM   #8
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english has a grammar system?

Sorry I couldn't resist.

I managed to get through regular public school and a university with an appalling lack of understanding of english grammar. Which really hit me, and a large number of students in a class at the University when a ESL GTF graded our papers down severely for our horrid grammar. It was really depressing.

Amy
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:28 AM   #9
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Sorry I couldn't resist.

I managed to get through regular public school and a university with an appalling lack of understanding of english grammar. Which really hit me, and a large number of students in a class at the University when a ESL GTF graded our papers down severely for our horrid grammar. It was really depressing.

Amy
Amy,

I'm the moderator of a message board for students studying Latin with the Open University - a "distance learning" university here in the UK. Year upon year, the biggest problem we see is people struggling with Latin due to a lack of knowledge of English grammar. It's very difficult to learn a foreign language if you don't understand the grammar of your own language, and even worse if you aren't equipped with the basic vocabulary to discuss language - we get people who literally don't know what a "noun" or a "verb" are, let alone the more esoteric grammatical constructs.
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Old 08-17-2008, 10:18 AM   #10
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It's very difficult to learn a foreign language if you don't understand the grammar of your own language, and even worse if you aren't equipped with the basic vocabulary to discuss language - we get people who literally don't know what a "noun" or a "verb" are, let alone the more esoteric grammatical constructs.
Could not agree more. So true.
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:07 PM   #11
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Thanks for those recommendations,

Fictionwise has :

Fowler's Modern English Usage

Edit:
Elements of Style; does exist at Fictionwise, but not Strunk & White's (sorry)

Last edited by GeoffC; 08-17-2008 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:08 PM   #12
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Hey folks,

I'm looking to brush up on my speaking and writing skills, as it's been some time since I've had any formal study on the subject. Would anyone be kind enough to make some recommendations on some grammar books that would be of some benefit?

Thanks!!!!
It's not a book but http://www.dailywritingtips.com/ has alot of good info on it. The good thing is that it is more than just an english book, but discusses common misused items in peoples daily writings.

I constantly make the that vs which mistake and need to refer to this http://www.dailywritingtips.com/that-vs-which/

BOb
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:11 PM   #13
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The Fowler's is a Pocket version - is that the same one HarryT?
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:14 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by sassanik View Post
Sorry I couldn't resist.

I managed to get through regular public school and a university with an appalling lack of understanding of english grammar. Which really hit me, and a large number of students in a class at the University when a ESL GTF graded our papers down severely for our horrid grammar. It was really depressing.

Amy

Amy,

I went through years of senior management; and still I struggle with the finer points of grammar.
At least now in retirement I hope to be able to do something about addressing my language deficiencies...

Geoff
(it was I, or was it me?)
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Old 08-17-2008, 04:41 PM   #15
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I went through years of senior management; and still I struggle with the finer points of grammar.
I recall when executives had secretaries who they expected to handle minor details, like creating coherent and grammatical communications. "I pay people to do that for me!"

The increasing use of technology has removed that shield. I suspect there are transcendent horrors in email sent by senior managers. (I used to ghost write memos for an SVP, who freely admitted my English language skills were better than his...)

I saw a note elsewhere about a senior manager who subscribed to a listserve on an interest of his, and had an Administrative Assistant print out the traffic for him to read. When I inquired whether he dictated replies for the AA to post for him, the response was laughter, but he was apparently "read only".
______
Dennis
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