Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

A Grammar Book for Those Who Want to Learn Even If They Don't Have To

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

A Grammar Book for Those Who Want to Learn Even If They Don't Have To

Article excerpt

A Grammar Book for Those Who Want to Learn Even If They Don't Have to Christine A. Huit. The Handy English Grammar Answer Book. Canton (MI): Visible Ink Press, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-57859-520-4. $21.95. Language Arts. 420pp.

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This book breaks the usual formula for English grammar books I have used previously in my composition classes, but it can theoretically be used for this purpose according to the Introduction and its content. One example of this break is how most sections start with a question, rather than with the topic being covered. "How do I use commas correctly in addresses?" (83) "How do I decide whether an Internet source is reliable?" (159) The table of contents is short and does not include all of these short sections, so it would be pretty difficult for a student to figure out which part of the chapter might answer a given question without reading all of them, and sadly most students opt to avoid reading when this is the only alternative. The contents primarily broadly divide the book into sections on the origins of the English language, on basic grammar concepts, sentence structure, spelling, punctuation, mechanics, essay organization, academic writing, writing style differences between social sciences, in sciences, in the arts and in business, as well as ESL and digital elements of writing. The appendixes and additional content takes up nearly half of the book, starting on page 277, and includes model papers and bibliographies as well as charts, and commonly used linguistic elements.

The introduction explains that the book attempts to follow a 2014 change in the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy (for college and secondary schools) that encourages a shift towards "regular practice with complex texts and their academic language" (xi). But the book includes few such complex texts, and primarily explains the mechanics of English language rules, without offering many exercises in reading.

It was difficult for me to read too much of this book, despite an initial urge to, because in the first chapter after the Introduction, "The Roots of Modern English," I found this sentence: "All religions and mythologies include in their creation stories the beginning of language" (1). The trouble is not that Huit is starting a book on grammar with religion, but that she is missing the preposition "of" between "stories" and "the beginning. …

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