May I Quote You on That?: A Guide to Grammar and Usage

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9780190215286: May I Quote You on That?: A Guide to Grammar and Usage

We all use language in different ways, depending on the situations we find ourselves in. In formal contexts we are usually expected to use a formal level of Standard English-the English codified in grammars, usage guides, and dictionaries.

In May I Quote You on That? Stephen Spector offers a new approach to learning Standard English grammar and usage. The product of Spector's forty years of teaching courses on the English language, this book makes the conventions of formal writing and speech easier and more enjoyable to learn than traditional approaches usually do. Each lesson begins with humorous, interesting, or instructive illustrative quotations from writers, celebrities, and historical figures. Mark Twain appears alongside Winston Churchill, Yogi Berra, Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Stephen Colbert, Oprah, Lady Gaga, and many others. These quotations allow readers to infer the rules and word meanings from context. And if they stick in readers' memory, they can serve as models for the rules they exemplify. The lessons then offer short essays, written in a conversational style, on the history of the rules or the words being discussed. But because English is constantly changing, the essays offer not only the traditional rules of Standard English, but also the current opinions of usage panelists, stylists, and language specialists. When rules are controversial, Spector offers advice about stylistic choices. A companion website features a workbook with practice drills.

This book will appeal to anyone who wants to write well. It's aimed at those who are applying to college, taking the SAT, or writing a job application, an essay, or anything else that requires clear and effective communication.

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About the Author:

Stephen Spector is Professor of English, State University of New York at Stonybrook.


"Nearly all wordsmiths feel the flu coming on when they anticipate opening any book with the word grammar in the title, but this book is a keeper-no dense explications, no inexplicable diagrams, no guilt-inducing tone. Instead, it's an alphabetically organized breakdown of troublesome words and phrases, making it a fast, smart, even browsable friend." -- Eloise Kinney Booklist

"Stephen Spector has created a quietly revolutionary book that not only presents the most effective ways to write clearly and persuasively, but also enlarges the entire notion of what constitutes the imaginative uses of language. In what other work would one find Winston Churchill and Lady Gaga as companions in the same noble cause? It hardly hurts that as a piece of writing itself, the book is a perfect example of its own indispensable teachings." --Roger Rosenblatt, author of Making Toast and Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing

"Anyone who's ever aspired to be a better writer would do well to have May I Quote You on That? as a handy reference. In so doing, there's no doubt in my mind that such an audience will come away with a better appreciation of just how rich the English language is, too." --Brain Drain Blog

"English teachers looking for a text that may appeal to grammar-phobic students are encouraged to take a look at this one." Daily Writing Tips

"I loved the whole concept of the book -- using quotes to make points about grammar and usage. The quotes are very appropriate and the manner in which language rules are explained is very well done. Also, to give readers a better understanding of the rules, Spector has given the history behind them... May I Quote You On That? makes a good addition to a writer's collection of reference books." --Write Tribe

"Mr. Spector has sound advice on the writing of clear prose. He understands the usefulness of rules, while recognizing that the pursuit of style requires the liberty to break them." --Times Literary Supplement

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