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Improving and Studying Grammar

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I am looking for suggestions of books or online materials that can help in studying and improving grammar. I'm also interested about any thoughts about how to get in the habit of thinking about grammar, since after all, studying grammar wouldn't help anything unless I identify what I can improve on. I unfortunately received little instruction in grammar beyond middle school, so I'm basically starting from scratch.

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I will admit that most of my grammar was acquired via parents who paid attention to many of these details as well as reading well written literature over the years. Recently at the grocery store, I requested a couple of items of merchandise from the cashier which were available from behind the counter. She retrieved the items and presented them to me inquiring if the correct items were offered. I replied, "Those are they."

She raised an eyebrow, and asked if I did not perhaps mean that "Those are them?"

I was rather surprised to have this questioned, but stated that I usually am correct in my language structure, but that I would investigate and confirm which it is.

Searching google with "Those are they" returned among several this site, which confirmed my utterance.

I've seen a few books on the finer points of grammar at the bookstore, but have not acquired any. In the ARB's 'Abstraction from abstractions' by Harry Binswanger, he points out to understand concepts and thinking, studying language and grammar are excellent avenues to gaining insight.

edited for spelling correction

Edited by dream_weaver
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The books that have been most helpful to me in my study of English grammar (including parts of speech, sentence structure, style, etc), and the ones I intend to use in my classrooms, are Rex Barks by Phyllis Davenport, and Writing and Thinking by Norman Foerster and John Steadman.

The former was first published in 1976 and is a very simple, effective guide to diagramming sentences. The latter was first published during the early 1900s and covers everything from basic grammar to development of style to essay-writing. Both books have AR intellectual endorsement (Lisa VanDamme uses both in her school, and I believe Peikoff uses Writing and Thinking as a source for his Principles of Grammar course). Peikoff's course explores grammar from an epistemological perspective, which may be very different from the middle-school grammar we all know and love. (I cannot vouch for the course--I have yet to work through it.)

Hope this helps!


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Congratulations on caring about grammar! The books suggested above a fine. There's also Eat Shoot and Leaves. I have two other suggestions. If you can get your hands on Peikoff's Grammar Course, get it. I confess (and hope this doesn't get me another warning from the powers that be here) that I'm not a Peikoff fan, but grammar is my life, and his course is beyond good. There's just nothing like it. It's fantastic. I took it live in his apartment in NY, but I assume the tape will be almost as good. Also, try picking up a daily newspaper and start redlining. Today's reporters/journalists wouldn't know proper grammar if it slapped them in the face. It's good practice (please familiarize yourself with the difference between whom/who). Not only will you learn where people go wrong these days, you'll be up-to-date on the news. Win/win!

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