Book of the Month
The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need:
A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment.

Publisher: Adams Media
Author: Susan Thurman
$14.99 (or $9.95)

ISBN 158 062 8559

Upper Intermediate

Let us start by dealing with the first question that will come to most readers' minds. Is this indeed the only grammar book you will ever need? Regrettably it is not, as is demonstrated by the fact that very many other grammar books somehow continue to exist. In fact the sub-title of this book informs you that it is aimed at only a particular class of readers - those doing writing assignments. Therefore we can amend the title to read, 'If you are a native English speaker, and if you need to refresh your grammar to make sure that something you have written is correct, then this book may be useful.' Otherwise, there are many other grammar books out there that are probably better suited to your needs.

The book proceeds straightforwardly through 184 pages of explanations of the different types of grammatical structures. There are no illustrations and no exercises. The book begins by explaining the basics of spelling and then gives a list of misused words, (a misused word is, for example 'discreet' in the sense of respecting privacy which is often misused as 'discrete' meaning 'in separate parts'). From there the book lays out the basics of grammar. An EFL student may wonder why a book aimed at readers who are at least of upper-intermediate ability has to explain the basics of grammar such as the difference between a noun and a pronoun. However, as the author herself explains, basic grammar is often not taught in Britain and the USA. Therefore though someone might know that what he has written is incorrect, he will not know why it is wrong. So this book has to start from the very beginning.

The author expects that her readers know how to form (for example) a passive construction because they do this every day as native speakers, even if they do not know what a passive construction is until that has been explained to them. As a result the text moves very quickly from explaining the basic parts of a sentence to complex issues such as the difference between tenses and moods and multi-part verbs. The basic idea is that once he knows how a sentence should be constructed the reader will realize where his own construction has gone wrong. Therefore by chapter ten the book has already covered English grammar and moves on to discussing different types of writing assignments from reports to research papers, and the different styles needed for each. The author herself sets a good example, with a light style, clear explanations and well-organized material. The book has an index and three appendices, though the appendix on 'Useful Websites' has just five links.

Who is this book for? This book covers one of the gaps in many education systems - that students are somehow expected to 'just know' grammar. A student wanting to check whether his writing assignment has appropriate word choices or punctuation will find this book a useful guide, though most of the information is also instantly available on the internet for free. Someone wanting to learn English from Beginner to Advanced will find that this is not the only grammar book he needs. In fact he needs a completely different book.

Verdict: Probably not the only grammar book you will ever need.
Assessment 6/10

Previous book reviews