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

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

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

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.


Imagine for a moment that your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse went away for a week and forgot to call you. You’re pretty annoyed. What kind of language will the two of you use when you see each other? Your significant other might begin with something loving, in a very informal, intimate style, like this:

“Hey, sweetheart. Love you. Miss me?”

You might reply in a similar style, but a lot less sweetly, like this:

“Yeah, right! How come you didn’t call or text, you jerk?”

Now imagine how you’d talk in a job interview at Google. You’d prob
ably use a much more formal level of speech. You might say,

“Good morning. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Thanks so much for inviting
me here today.”

The interviewer might respond,

“We’re very impressed with your credentials.”

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