Book of the Month
Grammar For Dummies: 1,001 Practice Questions

Publisher: Wiley Publishing
Author: Geraldine Woods

ISBN: 978-1-118-74501-4


For some people the easiest way to learn is by doing, and with English grammar one way to learn is by answering questions on grammar. This book is as the name says; a thousand-and-one English grammar questions, arranged into categories which each deal with a different field of English grammar. So for example Chapter 11 is 'Avoiding Capital Punishment' (you have get used to cutesy chapter headings with this book) where you have a set of sentences which you have to capitalize correctly. This book has also fully embraced the digital world, and is available as a .pdf for tablet readers, and there is a Kindle version. Furthermore, purchase of the book comes with a year of free online practice and study at the accompanying website (which was not available to the reviewers of this book.) This book might be considered a companion volume to Grammar for Dummies where the grammatical issues are explained in more detail. This book is all about the questions.

The book has 289 pages arranged in 23 chapters,with Chapter 23 being the answers to the questions in the previous chapters. (Note that Chapter 23 gives the answers, and only the answers - you have to work out for yourself why an answer might be right or wrong.) Every chapter apart from this chapter and the Introduction has a standard format. This consists of a quick description of the grammar point involved, and then a description of what kind of questions will follow and what to look for when forming your answers. Then it is on to the main body of the chapter which is a series of questions arranged in two columns for around six pages. After the answers there is also an index. One thing to be aware of is that this book tries to do everything for everyone in just 289 pages, so it starts with basic stuff (Chapter 1 is basic verbs, Chapter 7 is 'Forming Complete Sentences' and by Chapter 14 we are on Parallelism, with Spotlighting and Word Pairs to follow.

One thing to note is that this book is not just a grammar book in the standard form, for the second part of the book is as much about style as grammar. Thus Chapter 16 is about creating interesting sentences, and the previous chapter is about cutting repetition and wordiness, though a purist might insist that a sentence can be wordy and uninteresting while still being perfectly grammatical. The format is rather similar to that of other 'Dummies' books with the standard font of chapter headings and tick marks beside relevant points. There are no illustrations and there is a space underneath each question where you can write the answer.

Who is this book for? Well, this book would be ideal for a really, really fast learner who can go from learning basic sentence structures to writing advanced elegant prose on electronic media (there's a chapter about that too) all in the course of one book. Assuming you are not the superman in question, another suitable user of the book would be a student who refers to it periodically over a course of study, doing each chapter of questions once that field of grammar - or style - has been mastered. Finally, this book would be useful for someone who can already write good English, but does not really know the rules for getting it right. After all, the Beatles had to learn music so they they could find what key some of their songs were written in, so perhaps a good writer might need to learn grammar to really understand what he is writing.

Verdict: Not just for dummies. In fact definitely not for dummies
Assessment 6/10

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