Monday 11 October 2010

The Big Ten of Grammar: Review

The Big Ten of Grammar: Identifying and Fixing the Ten Most Frequent Grammatical Errors
William B. Bradshaw, PhD (Pictured right)
Published by Synergy Books
Published in 2010
ISBN 10: 0-9842358-5-X
I received a free copy of this book for review and am not being paid for the review.

Grammar plays a fairly significant role in my life. When I'm not trying to explain the finer points of present perfect form, I'm proof-reading. When I'm not proof-reading, I'm attempting to write a thesis. I'm surrounded by it. For the most part, I love the English language but I totally understand the frustrations of those who are learning it. There's this complicated rule that you MUST remember but then also three or four exceptions to that rule. For no apparent reason. I get it, English can be a fickle tart but I do love her.

Which is the point at which I would note that this books is NOT for English as Other Language students. This book is aimed solely at those who have native level competence in English - more specifically those who want to brush up their formal writing and/or speaking. It tackles common problems such as the difference between 'that' and 'which', misuse of the apostrophe, and comma usage. It has a lot of useful examples and explanation although I did find that the layout of the content within the chapters wasn't as clear as I would have liked if I want to use this as a reference book in the future.

The first two chapters that deal with use of 'I' or 'me' and 'he/him' and 'she/her' were the ones where I had cause to debate. There is no doubt in my mind that "He rides better than I" is technically correct compared to "He rides better than me" but I can't help but think that if I were going to say that I would say "He rides better than I do" - the completed sentence form which is suggested by the author as a tester of grammatical correctness. It might just be me, but I think verbally "He rides better than I" sounds slightly awkward, which is why I suggest that this book is best for use in formal writing and speaking situations. Perhaps I'm not as strict a grammar cop as I thought I was!!

There is also a great bonus section of material, so much I'm not sure why it's a bonus section and not additional chapters, including verb charts and other commonly confused issues such as 'who/whom'.

This book is for those who are already pretty good with English and grammar and who are writing and speaking at a higher level than just your average day-to-day usage. It has easy to grasp concepts, doesn't get caught up in complicated explanations - it simply tells you what's correct, what's not and how to check it. I'll be keeping this on hand while I write my thesis to make sure I don't make these mistakes for sure!

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