|Book of the Month|
|The Elements of Grammar|
This book is one of a set of two. The other book in the set (which will be reviewed in March) is Elements of Style. However, while it is useful to have a good style when speaking or writing English, it is essential to have good grammar. As the author says in the first chapter 'Few people wish to appear illiterate'. This statement is proven correct by the fact that this book has been re-published a number of times, and even some professional writers admit that they own the book to use as a handy reference. For the student of English as a second language this book has the advantage that it starts at the beginning. That is, it begins by defining nouns, adjectives, adverbs and other parts of grammar. The disadvantage is that it was written for native speakers and sometimes uses explanations that are harder to understand than the English being explained. The book is also intended for users of American English, so expect 'periods' instead of 'full stops' and US spelling throughout.
This is a short book - 168 pages in all, including the index. There are no illustrations, but the text is well spaced. This is partly because the author uses numerous examples to illustrate each point, so the grammatical explanations are usually short and to the point. In fact they are not so much explanations as rules - 'This point of grammar is used in this way - for example, here and here'. This is rather like being lectured by an old-fashioned schoolteacher, and some readers will find the style unpleasant, especially if, like this reviewer, they do not always agree with some of the author's 'rules'. (For example the author says that it is acceptable to write "the 1900's" for that century even though there is no reason for the use of the apostrophe before 's', and says there is 'no such spelling' as 'alright' though several dictionaries disagree).
Who is this book for? This book is not useful for a student learning grammar for the first time. Rather it is intended to be used by someone who knows English better than English grammar, and who needs to be told when and why to use (for example) an object rather than a subject pronoun. As the author has noticed,the same person probably needs to be told what object and subject pronouns actually are. So the ideal user of this book is someone who already knows English but needs a handy reference guide for those times when correct English is important - for example when preparing a CV (or résumé as the US author would say - though without explaining in chapter eight the meaning and use of the acute accent over the 'e').
|Verdict: A usable but below-average grammar guide
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