English grammar and usage

Page owner: Information director

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.

And the following online resources may also prove useful: Lexico.com, University of Bristol Faculty of Arts' Improve your writing and GrammarBook.com.


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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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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'.


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Practical English Usage by Michael Swan (Paperback, Oxford University Press, 4th edn, 2016)

'Written for ESL learners but good for editors, and if you have regular ESL clients you could recommend they get this.' From the blurb: 'Completely revised and updated to reflect changes in language use.'


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Because Internet: Understanding how language is changing by Gretchen McCulloch (paperback, ebook, audiobook, Vintage, 2020)

All about internet linguistics, this is an eye-opener for anyone interested in what's happening in language now.


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Bad English: A history of linguistic aggravation by Ammon Sea (paperback, ebook, MP3, Perigee Books, 2015)

'It dismantles the case for a whole range of linguistic stickles and peeves. Lots of them are ones we're all familiar with and that are covered in other guides too (literally, hopefully, decimate, different than, nounification/verbing, and the rest), but Shea does it particularly entertainingly.'