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A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (General Grammar) 2nd Revised ed. Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0582517349
ISBN-10: 0582517346
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The late Sidney Greenbaum was Director of the Survey of English Usage and formerly Quain Professor of English Language and Literature, University College London. Gerald Nelson is Research Fellow at the Survey of English Usage, University College London.
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Product Details

  • Series: General Grammar
  • Hardcover: 1792 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 2nd Revised ed. edition (May 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0582517346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582517349
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 8 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #870,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the title and price suggest, this is a reference grammar of English, not a textbook. It's written for people who already have a grasp of basic grammatical principles. This is the sort of book that you pick up when you want to look up patterns of verb complementation, etc. Only a masochist would try to read it straight through, or to learn grammar from it.
The _Comprehensive Grammar_ is an expanded and revised version of a series of grammars first published in 1972 (starting with _A Grammar of Contemporary English_.) Since its publication, this book has been *the* standard reference work used by professional grammarians. It is a scholarly, descriptive account of English based on extensive analysis of real usage. It is particularly strong in the way that it stresses the communicative functions of English. It tries to present material without being bound to a specific theoretical position. In many ways, this was a wise idea, since it has allowed the book to remain useful over the years while syntactic theories have changed drastically.
If you come to this book from traditional, schoolbook grammars, this work will seem quite modern, especially in its treatment of tense and with some word categories like determiners.
On the other hand, since the basic framework for this book was laid down in the 1960s, it does not reflect much of the research that has occurred since.
I have used this book for years now, and until recently, I would have recommended it without reservation as the best reference grammar available and given it five stars, despite the fact that it was beginning to get a bit long in the tooth. In 2002, however, Huddleston and Pullum brought out their _Cambridge Grammar of the English Language_, which is destined to supplant Quirk, et al. as the standard reference.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been driven up the wall for decades with 'grammar' books that clearly omit gargantuan amounts of information on grammar. If you use English, and you have ever had a question on grammar that wasn't answered to your satisfaction, you need to get this book. The book is not for everyone. Many people don't care that much about the details of grammar, and the book would just sit on their shelf. It's not for foreign language persons, unless they really want to understand the details and are willing to take the time to learn. It's not a book to learn conversational grammar. It's a scientist's book that nails the grammar down where it can be nailed down, and then clearly delineates the boundaries where it can't. If truly grasping grammar is important to you, this is your text.

Edit: I agree with Karl Hagen. Huddleston and Pullum's monumental Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, released shortly after my review above, is a superior text in many ways. Attempting to codify grammar is extraordinarily challenging since it seeks to discern structure in a body of data that emerged randomly and continues to morph unpredictably. The grammarians who most completely recognize their role as observers and documenters of language will produce the most useful analysis of grammar. There are many points throughout the Cambridge Grammar where the authors rethink long-standing tenets because an alternate approach makes more sense, even to the point of restructuring the basic word groups. For example, why are nouns and pronouns in different word groups? They operate virtually identically for purposes of grammar, why complicate matters by breaking them out into two groups? The author's deep understanding of grammar is evident throughout, which makes the Cambridge Grammar, as large as it is, a pleasure to read.
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Format: Hardcover
I first encountered (and purchased) this book while teaching English in Germany. It is the finest grammar of English in all its flavors that I have ever seen. The index is non-traditional, but I found its apparatus far more efficient than most indices I have worked with. I do not recall ever not being able to find something in this exemplary work.
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Format: Hardcover
I have had the book for years. The book is among the best of the same kind. However, I don't have much opportunity to make the most use of it because of its improper arragement of index. The book is too comprehensive to be read chapter by chapter. Instead, it is recommended to be used as a tool for English learners to consult. However, it is a pity that the contents of the index are not clearly classified. Under an entry are section numbers shown without detailed sub-entries. It is therefore difficult for a reader to find what he wants by looking in the index. I strongly recommend that the index be re-arranged according to the method as adopted by Oxford's "Practical English Usage." I believe most readers who have the book will agree with me.
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Format: Hardcover
The index to Quirk and Greenbaum's Comprehensive Grammar, written by David Crystal, is perhaps the best ever compiled. The earlier college grammar index had some serious flaws, but Crystal's index in this book is a masterwork of scholarship. Certainly, considering the complexity of the topic, readers may encounter some difficulties finding the precise information they seek, but diligent use will reward them.
This book, of course, was written for linguists and is not for the layperson.
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