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Publisher's Summary

Grammar! For many of us, the word triggers memories of finger-wagging schoolteachers, and of wrestling with the ambiguous and complicated rules of using formal language. But what is grammar? In fact, it's the integral basis of how we speak and write.
As such, a refined awareness of grammar opens a world of possibilities for both your pleasure in the English language and your skill in using it, in both speech and the written word. As a foundation for writing, a detailed grounding in grammar and usage will hugely expand your resources for meaningful verbal expression, for navigating the subtleties of the language, and for achieving clarity of communication and stylistic power.
In English Grammar Boot Camp, linguist and popular Great Courses instructor Professor Curzan takes you on an enjoyable exploration of the essential aspects of English grammar. These 24 spirited and accessible lectures offer you a comprehensive core training - a linguistic "boot camp," by which we mean a thorough immersion in all of the key elements of English grammar and usage, in their most immediate, practical application.
Here you get a breadth of perspective and context you won't find elsewhere, leaving you with a more choices and rich verbal resources for your own use of the language. In discussing the different parts of speech, Professor Curzan directs your attention to how the element at hand evolved. Highlighting reflections from 18th- and 19th-century usage guides as well as from multiple modern commentators, she guides you in examining real-world language use in a variety of contexts, helping you develop a sophisticated frame of reference and a deep awareness of the idiosyncrasies of English.
This delightful and superbly insightful course offers you a unique opportunity to explore the linguistic riches of the English language, and to significantly deepen your mastery of grammar, usage, and style.
©2016 The Great Courses (P)2016 The Teaching Company, LLC
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Customer Reviews

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By Quaker on 09-24-16

Spectacular

Where does English Grammar Boot Camp rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Among The Great Courses series on language, which are all excellent, I rate this one in the middle of the pack. It depends on what type of learning you want.

What other book might you compare English Grammar Boot Camp to and why?

Anne Curzan's first audio series "The Secret Life of Words" is one of my favorites titles on Audible, so I was both excited to listen this new course, and curious: How would this descriptivist linguist, who's quick to point out that English has many grammars, teach a English Grammar Boot Camp?<br/><br/>I am pleased to report that Professor Curzan navigates the territory with great ease. Yes, she reminds us, the English language is not static. No, there is not one authoritative grammar. But there is a concept of "standard English," and while much of that has changed over time and debate persists over certain rules, you're listening to this series because you want to understand those rules and potential pitfalls, and Curzan brilliantly covers it all with humor, humility, and insight. <br/><br/>You will learn the rules of usage, and you will also learn the origins of those rules, the logic behind them (if there is any), and how the rules of what's considered proper may be changing over time. <br/><br/>It should also surprise no one familiar with Curzan's other courses that you will learn the differences between spoken English and written English, and how what's considered proper in one form may be unacceptable in the other.

Which scene was your favorite?

I love Curzan's descriptions of the things she learns from her students. She describes how she frequently calls on them, as young users of the language, to help her document changes in usage as those changes enter the mainstream. <br/><br/>She describes, among other things, how texting has its own grammar and punctuation, and makes the point that while some of us might view this as simply "bad english," there are in fact meaningful rules that are unique to the medium.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely not. It's quite long, and dense with information. I typically listened to two chapters a day.

Any additional comments?

For those who are prescriptivists looking to hone your sense of "proper" usage, you will no doubt find everything you're looking for, but prepare to also be humbled. It is inevitable that some rule you were taught in school and remembered all these years will be questioned.<br/>This very review, up through the previous sentence, is filled with grammar and punctuation that defies some conventional rules, yet falls into the category of modern acceptable usage. Curzan explains those distinctions, with particular focus on those words and rules that tend to trip us up the most, such as:<br/>That rule about never ending a sentence with a proposition<br/>Apostrophes, dashes, semicolons, and the oxford comma<br/>Who, whom, pronoun agreement, and all the other prounoun issues that trip us up<br/>Which vs. that, and relative pronouns<br/>Octopuses or octopi, and all the ways plurals trip us up<br/>Lie vs. lay, past tense vs. past participle<br/>Helping verbs, shall, can, may etc.<br/>Passive voice<br/>Adverbs<br/>Conjunctives<br/>Dangling modifiers<br/>etc.<br/><br/>She will often stop short of declaring that a common usage is correct or incorrect, but will point out that if you make certain choices -- particularly in writing -- prepare to be judged. <br/><br/>It's a unique, refreshing, and entertaining approach to grammar study. Highly recommended for the usage nerd in us all.

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139 of 147 people found this review helpful


By Mervin Brown on 11-15-16

I learned so much! Great job Anne!

It was as if I had gone back to my primary school days. I will be listening again and again.

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25 of 26 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By gill on 04-14-17

Very interesting and engaging

Although the lecturer is American, this didn't detract from the usefulness. Clarified some areas of English grammar and exposed a lot of myths. It was particularly interesting to see how popularity of words changes over time and new words enter the language.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By AnnieB on 04-05-17

Brilliant

This book has contextualised and explained grammar to me in a more effective way than any teacher I've ever had. I recommend this course to anyone who dreaded grammar lessons as a child, or anyone who wishes to explore grammar in more depth.

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Eddie on 12-15-16

Anything goes

Any additional comments?

I must admit I am disappointed by this book. I was hoping for a revision on English grammar but the theme all through the book was that if enough people approve a particular grammatical construct, then it should be legitimised even though it may not be logical or elegant. In contrast, I see English as a logical language. There is a certain symmetry and logic in how sentences are constructed, similar to the language of numbers, which is why we have conventional rules on grammar. By being too permissive and loose, we are effectively allowing colloquialism to dilute the elegance of written English. In summary, this book treats grammar as a popularity contest.

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3 of 5 people found this review helpful


By Amazon Customer on 11-24-17

Pretty useful

This book is pretty useful and interesting for an English learner. I really like it.

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