English grammar and usage

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Online access to a variety of Oxford grammar, usage and punctuation information may be possible using your library card or ATHENS number or through subscription.

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Rediscover Grammar by David Crystal (paperback, Longman, 2nd edn, 2004)

One of many thoroughly useful titles by our current honorary president.

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The Penguin Guide to Punctuation by R. L. Trask (paperback, Penguin Reference Books, 1997)

The University of Sussex also hosts a freely available site of Larry Trask’s Guide to Punctuation.

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A Student's Introduction to English Grammar by Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum (paperback, Cambridge University Press, 2005)

From the book: ‘Errors of the older tradition of English grammar are noted and corrected, and the excesses of prescriptive usage manuals are firmly rebutted in specially highlighted notes that explain what older authorities have called “incorrect” and show why those authorities are mistaken.’ Geoffrey Pullum presented a lecture at the 2017 SfEP conference.

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Accidence Will Happen: The Non-pedantic Guide to English Usage by Oliver Kamm (paperback, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015)

From the book: ‘The Times columnist Oliver Kamm takes on the pedants in this witty, authoritative and sometimes provocative guide to the use and abuse of the English language.’

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The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker (paperback, Penguin, 2015)

Chapter 6, 'Telling right from wrong: how to make sense of the rules of correct grammar, word choice, and punctuation' is especially recommended reading. See also the CIEP book review, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.

Read the CIEP review

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English for the Natives: Discover the Grammar You Don't Know You Know by Harry Ritchie (paperback, John Murray, 2014)

This book has proved useful as it provides a straightforward description of the common grammatical terms, which can be valuable when trying to explain a change or suggestion to an author.

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For Who the Bell Tolls: The Essential and Entertaining Guide to Grammar by David Marsh (paperback, Guardian Faber Publishing, 2014)

Described by Mark Forsyth as 'A splendid and, more importantly, sane book on English Grammar'.