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Practical English Usage Paperback – January, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0194311977 ISBN-10: 019431197X Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 658 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (January 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019431197X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0194311977
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #601,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Swan is a writer specializing in English language teaching and reference materials. His interests include pedagogic grammar, mother-tongue influence in second language acquisition, and the relationship between applied linguistic theory and classroom language-teaching practice, and he has published a number of articles on these topics.

More About the Author

Michael Swan has written and co-authored a wide range of English language teaching and reference materials, informed by 20 years' TESOL experience in Britain and abroad. He has published a number of articles on the principles and methodology of second language teaching, and is a regular speaker at international conferences.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Designed as a reference book, it is very easy to find what you're looking for.
Brett Reynolds
If you are a teacher of English as a foreign language, or a smart student, you will not be disappointed with this Practical English Usage.
Chris Elvin
It is organized alphabetically by topic and provides clear explanations to various types of usage.
seydlitz89

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Deák Csaba on January 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have used this book a lot while studying English and I think IT IS WORTH BUYING for everybody who regularly uses English language and wants to speak and write correctly.

Practical English Usage contains hundreds of entries on English grammar, from elementary to advanced topics and some entries on other issues (pronunciation, usage of problematic words, style etc.). The entries are well selected and well indexed, so I found answers for the vast majority of questions I have ever tried to look up.

Keep in mind, however, that the book can be used primarily as a REFERENCE. It is NOT structured for systematic, regular study and it is too dry for that purpose.

If you want to learn English grammar, I recommend that you get this book, together with Basic English Grammar by Eastwood and Mackin (with the exercises). Use Eastwood and Mackin's book for systematic study and complement it with Swan's book whenever you have any specific question. These books together cover ALL you'll ever need on English grammar (except if you need to be a professional in the field - such as a translator, university professor etc.).
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135 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Chris Elvin on August 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have a copy of Practical English Usage on my desk at school. I have other grammar reference books, such as Quirk and Greenbaum, at home, but this is by far the most useful for a teacher of English as a foreign language. Swan's style is to focus on the problem points of learners, and explain them and in simple, pithy and purposeful, everyday language to the extent that an advanced learner would be able to understand. As a teacher, you can often save yourself a lot of hassle simply by quoting from it. I like Practical English Usage because the examples are real, living English taken from the British National Corpus, or are realistic enough to be acceptable as such. Too many grammar books borrow their English from the past, or from the dialects of ivory-tower academics. This book redresses this imbalance. If you are not British, fear not, as another feature is its thorough coverage of the differences between British and American usage. (Other dialects are not covered.) If you are a teacher of English as a foreign language, or a smart student, you will not be disappointed with this Practical English Usage.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By K. Johnson VINE VOICE on February 10, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the bible for the TEFL educator. This is the most complete guide I've ever seen. Not only because of the amount of information it has, but how it's organized. You can find the answer to what you're looking for very quickly by using the index and alphabetized organization of the book. I learn a lot about the English language from the students' questions. This is the ultimate reference guide, because it not only provides the answers, but provides the explanation for the answer. Must have for the TESOL/TEFL instructor.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By seydlitz89 on February 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a teacher of English as a Foreign Language I use Michael Swan's book often. It is organized alphabetically by topic and provides clear explanations to various types of usage. Need to find out about the use of the subjunctive form in English or whether it is permitted to use they/them/their to refer to a single indefinite person? This reference can answer those as well as many other elementary or advanced questions that may come up. The only source of confusion I have found was his partial omitting the terms 0,1,2,3 and Mixed Conditional tenses, grouping these all instead under "if". Many students learn the conditional tenses using the 0-M system and find it quite handy and useful in learning the various structures and meanings. The author mentions types 1-3 on pages 245-6, and then goes on to insist quite correctly that there are many different structures for "if". However, he fails to mention the "0" and "M" conditionals, which would account for most of the rest (including conditional sentences that do not use "if"). In all this could be a rather minor irritant to at least some users of this book.
To repeat my view, this is an excellent reference and one I recommend to my advanced students.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By T. Hooper on May 15, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an English teacher, I can't live without this book. For many English speakers, it is difficult to explain some of the more esoteric points of grammar. In my experience, I've found that most grammar books are too basic, are filled with lots of unnecessary grammar exercises, or are difficult to use. This book, however, is easy to use and is created for the English teaching professional rather than for the English student. It's a breeze to check up on difficult points. All of the grammar points are listed in alphabetical order in an encyclopedic manner. In my teaching career, I've been asked many difficult questions that were difficult for me to answer. Every time, Swan's Practical English Usage came to my rescue. Every English teacher should have a copy of this one.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ali Gamache on March 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
I have been teaching high level English grammar for 7 years, and this is by far the best reference book I have used. We purchase copies for all our teachers.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By VENTURINI VIVIANA on January 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
This grammar book has the size of a dictionary, and the entries are in alphabetical order for quick reference. It is "intended for intermediate and advanced students, and for teachers of English," as it is stated in the introduction. I particularly enjoy the bright white of the paper and the use of a brown-red for the entries, whereas their explanations are in black, in bold type and cursive. There are also ten very interesting pages about "newspaper headlines" and useful information on "stress, rhythm and intonation," as well as "weak and strong forms."
I have a degree in foreign languages and literatures and have taught English for the last ten years. I think everyone who studies the English language should have this book on their shelves, next to their dictionaries, for whatever your grammar doubt is, you'll quickly find a solution to your problem.
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