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Looking for grammar textbook/course/self tutorial

Posted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:52 am
by pengyou
I would like to find a very comprehensive grammar course and am looking for resources. This might take the form of a textbook - I would prefer it to be a workbook or have a workbook that accompanies it - a dvd series, a website, or series of websites or even a college extension course.

I hope that this will even include obscure parts of English grammar.

Any suggestions will be much appreciated.

Posted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:04 pm
by Sally Olsen
Using Functional Grammar: An Explorer's Guide by David Butt et all (2000) National Center for English Language Teaching and Research. Available at Amazon.

Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 2:14 am
by fluffyhamster
I'm sure that the book that Sally recommends is a good book generally as well as for learning about the concepts and notions of SFG especially, but I'd imagine that the following books would all be more comprehensive (note that I've included one, the Downing & Locke, that is also SFG-related; another possibility for an SFG course if not reference grammar however could be Graham Lock's Functional English Grammar), and any of the asterisked can be used as reasonably detailed reference grammars. Bear in mind that the Leech, Biber, and Kennedy all share pretty much the same terminology (i.e. that derived from the Quirk stable of grammars), but that the Leech and then the Kennedy are likely to be the gentler/less overwhelming of the three. All the books with the exception of the Biber (which requires a separate Workbook, not that the LSGSWE itself doesn't have any recaps, summaries etc) include exercises, whilst The Grammar Book in addition devotes some space to suggestions for activites (not all of them that good however LOL), and is useful for its frequent distillations of discourse-level research (i.e. how the demands of extended discourse [beyond the level of the isolated sentence] often influence or indeed dictate grammar choices). Lastly, note that the Biber is often interesting for its comparative data drawn from four registers (conversation, news, academic prose, and fiction). I guess the books I feel most inclined at the moment to actually sit down with and take notes from though are the SFG-inspired Downing & Locke, Lock, and COBUILD Grammar, and the three general grammar dictionaries mentioned in the penultimate paragraph of this post.

Leech et al's English Grammar for Today (Second Edition)

Huddleston & Pullum's A Student's Introduction to English Grammar

*Biber et al's Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English, plus Workbook (sold separately)

*Larsen-Freeman & Celce-Murcia's The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher's Course (Second Edition)

*Downing & Locke's English Grammar: A University Course ( ... frontcover )

One course-like book that covers more than grammar (i.e. articulatory phonetics, phonemes, morphology, discourse too) is Kennedy's Structure and Meaning in English: A Guide for Teachers. You can preview this, the Huddleston & Pullum, the Downing & Locke, and the Lock, on Google Books.

Don't forget that there are or were some actual reference grammars besides the Biber that were published with accompanying exercise books (for learners of English if not their teachers), that may also be worth a look, e.g. the Collins COBUILD English Grammar: Exercises, by Katy Shaw, was published (though way back in the early 1990s) for use with the *Collins COBUILD English Grammar.

Remember also that a grammar dictionary or similar can be very useful generally. Chalker & Weiner's Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar, and Trask's Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar, are both inexpensive enough that they are well worth considering buying in addition to any comprehensive course and/or reference grammar; then, Michael Pearce's Routledge Dictionary of English Language Studies is a very useful one-stop resource, particularly since its plentiful examples are all drawn from a variety of corpora and indicated as such throughout.

Most of these authors and their books have been mentioned if not quoted from before on the forums (International as well as Teacher) by at least me, so perhaps try searching for 'em with me as author if you want to see how they might've come in handy sometimes for ELT purposes. :)

Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:03 pm
by LarryLatham
Hi Pengyou,

I'm guessing from the screen name you have given yourself that you are Chinese, though I hasten to note that if English is not your first language, the language you use in your question is first rate English.

Both Sally and Fluffy can be relied upon always for excellent information and advice, and if you take it you will not be sorry. Personally, I am not familiar with any of the resources they have mentioned here, but wouldn't doubt that they could be valuable to you. I emphasize "could" though, because I'm not quite sure.

You see, I find your original post quite fascinating, because it is unusual. I don't think I could advise you from only the question as you put it. I'd like to ask you, "What is your objective?" "Are you a native speaker looking for resources for students? For yourself to prepare for students?" "Are you a high functioning non-native speaker looking for mastery of English grammar for your own pleasure?" It would help to know to what primary use you would put these resources. Choices you might make could be driven by the eventual outcome you desire.

Larry Latham

Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:52 pm
by fluffyhamster
Hiya Larry! I'd got the impression that Pengyou was a native (or certainly near-native) English speaker, and checking back on some older posts I see he/she was teaching in Chinese universities at least; then, this is an ESL/EFL/ELT forum, so I guess the sort of resources me and Sally are recommending will be generally OK. (I tend to skip straight to what I assume will be some sort of answer than delay that with "fact-checking" LOL). But if the stuff we're recommending is e.g. too detailed, then Pengyou can get back to us, and we can perhaps offer better advice the second time around! 8) :wink: :)

Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:56 am
by LarryLatham
Hi yourself, Duncan,

It was nice poking my head in the door there at Dave's and seeing you and Sally are still there and going strong as ever.

How's the book going?


Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 11:06 am
by Sally Olsen
Might be coming your way in October. Have a friend who has a big event in his life in LA and will probably drive down from Vancouver. Still working on revisions. Does it ever end?

Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:28 pm
by LarryLatham
Welcome to So. Cal., Sally, and hope you enjoy your visit hereabouts. (You'll still be north of where I am by more than 100 miles.)

I see you're continuing to add to your list of interesting places in the world where you live and work. You certainly do lead an interesting life! Hard to think of anything better than that.


Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:14 pm
by fluffyhamster
The book's going OK thanks, Larry - a bit slowly, but reasonably surely nonetheless. Lexicography (esp. Chinese!) is always ultimately that Johnsonian "drudgery", so it'll probably take a good few years still to complete (unless I really get my finger out)! 8) Hmm, I wonder though if there'll be any money left in the economy by then for anyone to be able to afford to buy it (assuming of course that it actually gets published!). :o :)