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The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage Paperback – October 20, 2004

37 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0071441339 ISBN-10: 0071441336 Edition: 1st

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From the Back Cover

Who or Whom? Its or It's? Lie or Lay?

Confused over which to use? Can't remember those grueling grammar lessons from junior high? Worried that your writing lacks professional polish? Stop worrying! You've just picked up the painless prescription for proper English.

Acclaimed grammarians Mark Lester and Larry Beason know that English teachers aren't the only ones who expect careful and correct language choices. Precision in language can be the deciding factor when it comes to getting jobs and winning promotions. In The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage, they won't bog you down in musty grammarian phraseology. Instead, you'll get bottom-line definitions, hints, and simple rules that summarize the least you need to know about grammar and usage.

With their entertaining style and practical approach, the authors guide you through:

  • Understanding common mistakes and why they happen
  • Hundreds of correct and incorrect sentence examples, with errors clearly marked
  • Quick tips for fixing your most stubborn grammatical mishaps
  • Catchy memory aids for writing correctly the first time
  • PLUS: A handy glossary

Whether your skills need drastic improvement or a quick brush-up, this book will get your grammar back on the right track.

About the Author

Mark Lester (Cheney, WA) is an experienced grammarian, ESL expert, and professor emeritus of Eastern Washington University. He was the founding chair of the ESL department at the University of Hawaii, which is now considered one of the best ESL programs in the United States. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Grammar and Usage in the Classroom, one of the most widely used college grammar textbooks in the country.

Larry Beason (Mobile, AL) is an award-winning professor and director of the English composition program at the University of South Alabama. He has written numerous academic articles and given presentations on rhetoric, grammar, business communication, teaching, and the English language. Beaton is also the author of several grammar books.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (October 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071441336
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071441339
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 81 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Sperling on January 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone who managed to avoid learning anything in 12 years of English classes ("I already speak it, why do I need to waste my time in these classes"), I'd been bitten in the butt by my inability to clearly and concisely express myself. This was particularly embarrassing and troublesome at work when sending emails to superiors or presenting projects to a group.

I needed to learn how to properly write a sentence, and to do this, I needed to learn grammar. My search for the perfect grammar book was tough. Most were meant for readers who already had a moderate understanding of grammar. The rest seemed to be meant for ESL students. NONE seemed to offer what I needed: A foundational review of the basic concepts of grammar, and instructions on how to use these concepts to create clear and concise writings.

Finally I found this book, and it was exactly what I needed. I now have a more in-depth understanding of grammar than most of my coworkers, and though my writing may not be quite as good as theirs, it has improved and continues to do so.

As a final note, I should mention that this booked helped me only because I was very motivated to improve my writing. I have read each chapter multiple times, and practiced what I read by parsing sentences in the newspaper. And though my writing is much improved, I still spend quite a bit of time reviewing everything I write, making sure it follows the rules this book has taught me; however, with continued practice I expect that proper writing will eventually come with ease.
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful By javaman on September 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Broadly speaking, this is an excellent handbook, a superb handbook. The concepts are explained clearly and the examples are very instructive. What is in the handbook is treated very lucidly and thoroughly and with considerable depth. I personally was impressed at the depth and detail in which some of the grammar is covered.

The only real problems with the handbook don't concern what is in the book--it's what isn't. There are nuances in subject-verb agreement which aren't included, areas such as impersonal expressions are absent, and there is no mention of the subjunctive. If one is preparing for the TOEFL, this is a good book to get but I would not make it the only text you study, since it is not exhaustive by any means.

Still, there is a good amount of very useful information excellently explained here. I would offer a warm qualified recommendation to ESL students, one a bit nuanced. For the ESL student with absolutely no interest in the subject, who feels that study of English in general is one big long painful injection in the gluteus maximus, a tortuous experience only to be endured and not enjoyed in any way, this book is going to come off nebulous and long-winded. Granted, the book does not give one simply the bare bones of a concept and leave enough alone; for the student who wants merely to ratchet together enough knowledge to pass a few tests and move on, this book might be a bit too dedicated to its subject material. For the student with some real interest in learning English and learning it well, however, this book definitely rewards a patient and attentive reader because ideas are not merely presented but amply explained, and in handsome detail.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By K. Harding on August 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by a professional proofreader as the best working guide to English grammar. It is an excellent text and very clearly written. It covers most of what I was looking for, although it seems to overlook the subjunctive. The writers explain grammatical concepts in the context both of modern transformational grammar, and of traditional grammar, which is extremely helpful.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mssr. Nomdeplume on May 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book contains a great deal of the material that was in Lester's magnum opus, Grammar and Usage in the Classroom (2nd Edition). How I adored that book!, and I have lingering bitterness that it was never reissued in another printing. The previous book casts a long shadow on this one, since it draws so heavily on it with the same format, section material, and even the same example sentences.

A good book review discusses a book's purpose and whether it achieves it, the intended audience, and so forth. The best thing to do is to let this book speak for itself. This is from the Introduction:

"Grammar books are commonplace. What makes this one different? Following are seven features that set this book apart:
*separating grammar and usage: Part I focuses on the grammatical terminology used to describe language. Part II goes a step further by covering the rules and conventions--the "prescriptions" for proper language, or what you should and should not do in formal communication. Rather than conflate these two issues (description versus prescription), this book separates them so readers can pay attention to the parts that matter most to them.
*A nontechnical approach: You do not have to be a grammarian or linguist to use this book. Part I covers the technical aspects of grammar, but we assume our readers do not necessarily have a background in this area. More importantly, Part II does not rely on Part I or on previous knowledge of formal grammar.
*Accessible, bottom-line information: Part II in particular offers bottom-line definitions, hints, and rules that summarize the least you need to know about grammar and usage.
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