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  1. Abno
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    Abno New Member

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    Need to learn good Grammar. Best Book suggestion?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Abno, Jun 5, 2010.

    Hi. I'm totally new here. What I need is a book that teaches me grammar from start to finish, clearly explaining steps and stuff. I have problems with sentence structures and all that. Other main things I need to learn about is commas, dots, and the other symbols used in sentences.


    What I need is someone to refer me to the best book possible that teaches grammar very clearly and good. If you're unsure, then please don't reply. I need book suggestions which you are very confident about. Someone with experience would be good.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The Little, Brown Handbook is intended as a reference guide, not a primer. However, it is quite readable, as well as being organized so you can easily find the answers to your grammar, punctuation, and usage questions.

    Knowing what the best book for you is would be impossible, without knowing exactly what your current level of knowledge is. But The Little, Brown Handbook is widely used by schools and colleges to prepare students for academic writing.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    First, welcome to the forum! Glad to see that your first post is one in search of knowledge. This bodes well for you.

    Second, as Cog has mentioned, a lot depends on where your current level on knowledge floats.

    So, a question: You're 21 years old, so you're well out of high school. Are you matriculated in a college or university? If yes, go to the English department and tell one of the profs what you need. They should guide you to a good class. Don't be ashamed if it is a remedial class. God knows I had to take a few remedial classes in math when I went back to university.

    BTW, you and I share a birthday! :D
     
  4. Diablo Robotico
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    Diablo Robotico Member

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    This isn't a book suggestion, but I thought I'd help and tell you that you should have said "well" instead of "good" at the end of this quote. The book will teach you well, not teach you good. ;)
     
  5. Paki-Writing
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    Paki-Writing Member

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    I've actually taken writing classes and have The Little, Brown Handbook. I also have St. Martin's Handbook. I can't seem to use them well, even as reference guides. What would help would be a workbook that would tell me the rules and give lots exercises (with answers in the back).

    I'm good at pretty much everything except writing. I killed Cal II and mastered Organic Chemistry, but grammar seems to be that ever-elusive skill I can't seem to acquire. It's the main reason I have very low confidence when writing for class. Now I have the major dilemma of trying to get published in peer-reviewed journals. While I can do the research, I don't feel confident in writing an article that reports my findings.

    Having a good self-help book on grammar would do wonders, not only for me, but for everyone else that feels retarded in this area. I pretty much dream of becoming a SPAG-master. I want to go into the review-room and SPAG everything.
     
  6. smerdyakov
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    smerdyakov Senior Member

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    Strunk and White's Elements of Style is an excellent resource I find.
    It's a little dated by today's standards maybe, but it will seriously shape up your writing. That reminds me...I need to it back of a friend of mine who "borrowed" it last year.
    When you are reading books, pay close attention to how sentences are constructed (especially in literature), and get into the habit of this, rather than merely skimming through the words on the page.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Only if you have an older edition.

    However, as a grammar and punctuation tutorial, Strunk and White is less than ideal. It's a great resource, but assumes quite a bit of previous knowledge.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    check out some upper elementary grade grammar textbooks... that would most likely give you what you need, if you didn't get it the first time around...
     
  9. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Also, something worth researching might be English workbooks for adults learning English as a foreign language. These usually teach right from the basics, in terms you can understand. I had one for German grammar when I lived abroad that was workbook-style, with answers in the back and the like.
     
  10. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    This is a good one - so is Rediscover Grammar.
     
  11. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves"

    I don't remember who wrote it, it's a good book to take into consideration. The last I knew, it had a few stray pandas on the cover. But with the ever changing world of covers, it may be different now.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Amusing and somewhat informative, but hardly a well-rounded text on grammar, punctuation, and usage.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i was just going to say essentially the same thing...
     
  14. Abno
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    Abno New Member

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    I really appreciate everyone's help in this. Thanks a lot :)

    I have chosen Strunk & White's Elements of Style. My question is which one is the latest version?
    I went to BarnsAndNoble.com and I found some there, which one would you guys recommend the most?
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    latest is the fourth ed.
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not without its critics, though. I've cited 50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice before.
    There's a workbook for the Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English, and that book + workbook should teach you more about grammar than you would ever want to know, but it's hard work and doesn't cover punctuation.

    Lynne Truss. Should only be read in conjunction with David Crystal's "The Fight for English", in my opinion.
     
  17. Fedora
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    Fedora Active Member

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    The Elements of Style by Strunk & White, Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences by Janis Bell, or Rules for Writers by Diana Hacker.
     
  18. VegasGeorge
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    VegasGeorge Member

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    I am extremely happy with two books, "Woe Is I," and "Words Fail Me," both written by Patricia T. O'Conner. All of my grammar, punctuation, and contextual questions are answered there in a way I can understand.
     
  19. Abno
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    Abno New Member

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    Thanks for the warning, but I don't get it when things like this happen. It's a book that thousands of people say to be very very good, but then another group of people say it's a disgrace... How does something like that happen? Are people THIS unclear about the rules and laws of writing and speaking??

    Anyways, thanks for the advice.

    All I really want is to learn where to use commas, dots and other symbols or characters, and how to construct a sentence, even when it explains something complex in a complex way. I want to perfect that.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You won't find a book that nobody dislikes. The existence of an article ridiculing Strunk and White doesn't surprise me, nor did I find the articles arduments particularly compelling.

    The number of writers who praise Strunk and White says a lot more to me.
     
  21. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes and no. English is defined by usage, and usage varies from place to place and from time to time. Some usage only changes over many centuries, some might legitimately change within the course of a text. The latter we tend to call "style" and the former we tend to call "grammar", but there's a whole lot in the grey area in-between. When you are reading any prescriptive grammar (one that says how things should be), you need to be aware that that's not necessarily how they really are. So for instance, when Strunk and White say whether "none" should have singular or plural agreement they say what they want to be the case but they have nothing to back it up. If people like Strunk and White's advice enough then they start following it, and what Strunk and White wanted comes to pass. If people don't like it then they are free to ignore it. Those who like it and those don't like it then start blue-lining each others manuscripts, and maybe eventually one side will prevail or maybe it will stay an open issue.

    There is also the effect of the education system. I understand that Strunk & White is much used in the US education system. That means that when it gets something unquestionably wrong -- as it does over what constitutes a passive, for instance -- a lot of students will assume that the book must be right and that they must be missing something.

    None of this is any reason not to use prescriptive grammars, especially if you feel that they improve your writing. I use Fowler's Modern English Usage (2nd ed) a lot. But if you feel somebody else has broken a "rule" (such as the one about starting a sentence with a conjunction) then you need to be very cautious about picking them up on it. They might not accept the rule, and they might have solid grounds for that.
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Much of what digitig's article is griping about is style recommendations, not firm grammar rules. The Elements of Style is an excellent resource for writers, but I would not considere it a book on grammar. Yes, it does address grammar and punctuation, but tat is not its sole focus.

    That is one reason I didn't suggest it for learning grammar.
     
  23. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's fair, but when writers on style get prescriptive then it can be hard for the learner to tell the difference, especially because there isn't a clear dividing line anyway. Is the question of whether "none" takes singular or plural agreement a matter of grammar or style?
     
  24. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    I’m surprised that the most basic question hasn’t been asked—that is, do you want to write using U.S. English or British English?

    It doesn’t say on your profile, and it seems to me that everyone is just assuming that you are based in the U.S.
     
  25. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, the two books I mentioned positively (Fowler and The Longman Student Grammar) both relate to British English. I was hoping to covertly lead our former colony back into the right and proper way of using the language :p
     
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