Though there is no shortage of English grammar and usage guides, Stephen Spector here offers a new approach, pairing grammar rules with interesting and humorous quotations from American popular culture. The book, which Spector has used informally in his introductory-level History of English course for over forty years, focuses on words and usage rules commonly misused or misapplied by undergraduate students - such as discreet/discrete, double negatives, the singular and plural verbs for "everyone," and the distinction between "that" and "which." Each of Spector's two hundred lessons begins with several memorable quotations - some from contemporary journalists and authors, former presidents, and celebrities, others from canonical figures such as Shakespeare and Milton - that illustrate how a word or rule should be used. Each quotation is then followed by a brief explanation that discusses the origin of the rule or the history of the word(s) being defined. These short essays focus on the normative rules, but place them in the context of historical usage and casual speech today.
Traditional usage guides tend to be concerned with defining grammar rules. Spector's descriptive approach, by contrast, places minimal reliance on grammatical terminology, instead allowing his well-chosen examples to make the point, leading conscientious readers to begin formulating the rule before they encounter it. The book will also include an online component, which will offer thirteen lessons on such topics as punctuation, capitalization, the mechanics of quoting, dangling modifiers, and sentence fragments, among others. Each lesson will conclude with a series of drills and explanations of correct answers. The book is ideal for introductory-level undergraduate writing courses, and should appeal to anyone with an interest in grammar and writing.
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, Bill Cosby, 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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