Monday, 1 December 2014

English for the Natives

Finished December 1
English for the Natives: Discover the Grammar You Don't Know You Know by Harry Ritchie

I got this book for a birthday present and have really been enjoying it. The author has a good sense of humour that he brings to play in the examples he uses throughout.
He talks about how many people become nervous when faced with grammar, but that we all use proper grammatical forms when we speak and write without really thinking about it. He also dispels some myths around grammar that have been long held up as rules, but aren't really.
English, like all active languages is constantly developing, and we need to recognize that in the way that we accept usages, spellings, and meanings of words as they change over time.  He also talks throughout about how standard English has become the defining way of using the language, despite many English speakers using the language differently.
The first chapter deals with the history of English and the second with how we, native English speakers, learn our language. The following chapters each take on a grammatical word category and look at the different ways it is used, how it works, and how it relates to others. These chapters begin with nouns and go on through determiners, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions.The final chapter deals with structure.
There are also a couple of useful appendices, one with common 'mistakes' made by speakers of non-standard English, and one of irregular verbs.
The book is written in a very engaging, conversational style and I found myself understanding grammar better than I had before and feeling more confident about using some of those non-standard standard styles, and breaking those "rules".

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