Cover image for Gwynne's grammar : the ultimate introduction to grammar and the writing of good English : definitions, explanations and illustrations of the parts of speech, and of the other most important technical terms of grammar. Incorporating Strunk's Guide to Style explaining how to write well and the main pitfalls to avoid.
Gwynne's grammar : the ultimate introduction to grammar and the writing of good English : definitions, explanations and illustrations of the parts of speech, and of the other most important technical terms of grammar. Incorporating Strunk's Guide to Style explaining how to write well and the main pitfalls to avoid.
Gwynne, N. M., author.
Personal Author:
First American Edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf, 2014.
Physical Description:
xxxvi, 249 pages ; 19 cm
"Crushing national Debt? Climate Change? No: the greatest danger to our way of life is the decline of grammar. Thus preaches the inimitable Mr Gwynne as he shows us the way out of this sorry state. "Grammar is the science of using words rightly, leading to thinking rightly, leading to deciding rightly, without which-as both common sense and experience show-happiness is impossible. Therefore, happiness depends at least partly on good grammar." So writes Mr. Gwynne in his small but perfectly formed new book of grammar with an attitude. Mr. Gwynne believes passionately that we must regain our knowledge of the workings of our language before it is too late. Schools don't teach it, and as the Internet drives the written word to new lows of informality, we approach a tipping point of expressive dysfunction. Into the breach steps this doughty grammarian. Rejecting popular notions that language is simply a matter of the way people use it, he meticulously spells out what tradition and common sense have, over centuries, dictated to be the right and the wrong. His teaching method is also defiantly old school: no one can follow a rule he hasn't committed to memory. But not all rules are equal. For a country whose only broadly subscribed guide to writing is Strunk and White, Mr. Gwynne performs a radical procedure. He presents its original seed: Strunk's 1918 essay, which E. B. White expanded. But neither form was ever meant as a guide to grammar, and so Mr. Gwynne presents only the kernel of Strunk's useful advice as a companion: a guide to putting words together nicely set within Gwynne's wisdom about putting them together correctly. The result is the last word on the subject anyone should need"--

"Crushing national Debt? Climate Change? No: the greatest danger to our way of life is the decline of grammar. Thus preaches the inimitable Mr Gwynne as he shows us the way out of this sorry state"--
Gwynne's grammar -- This is a serious business -- A note of encouragement -- Further encouragement -- Does prescriptiveness really belong to grammar? -- Still introductory -- Parts of speech -- Most important syntax basics -- Punctuation -- Putting what is being learnt into practice -- Grammar of verse-writing -- Strunk on style -- Introductory -- Elementary rules of usage -- Elementary principles of composition -- A few matters of form -- Words and expressions commonly misused -- Appendices: some useful lists -- Inventory of definitions of grammatical terms -- Irregular verbs -- Special prepositions needed by particular words -- Formation of plurals.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PE1106 .G89 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Anxious about apostrophes?

In a pickle over your pronouns and prepositions?

Fear not--Mr. Gwynne is here with his wonderfully concise and highly enjoyable book of grammar.

Within these pages, adults and children alike will find all they need to rediscover this lost science and sharpen up their skills.

Mr. Gwynne believes that happiness depends at least partly on good grammar--and Mr. Gwynne is never wrong.

Author Notes

In the 1980s, on retirement from a successful career as a businessman in London and Australia N.M. Gwynne gradually took up teaching, at first privately. He soon found that he had a clear vocation and he discovered a real demand for his traditional methods, universal up to the 1960s but since displaced by new-fangled theories of learning. And so Mr Gwynne began to ply his trade in classrooms and lecture halls teaching a diverse range of subjects: English, Latin, Greek, French, German, mathematics, history, classical philosophy, natural medicine, the elements of music, even "How to start and run your own business." Now with an international word-of-mouth reputation, Mr Gwynne has been flown around the world in order to teach his pupils privately. And thanks to the Internet and Skype, he has sometimes found himself, within a single day's time, teaching children and adults in India, in Europe and the western United States.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gwynne asks readers to pay attention to his prologue. It carries fascinating information, indeed, but more than that, it offers the first taste of the author's fine, clarified voice. It's really not like reading, it's like being spoken to, and considering that his topic is the English language, it seems proper and fitting. This little book, about half of which comprises the 1918 version of Strunk's infamous essay on grammar, was a best-seller in the UK, and it is understandable why. It feels luxurious to be treated so smartly, and Gwynne comes at the ungainly, mostly unlovable topic of grammar endearingly, pointing out that the wonderful English language has held us in such good stead for so long that we can read what was written by, for example, Shakespeare, and still understand it. He posits that, as we study and learn about language, our minds become sharper and clearer, . . . and our ability to appreciate and make the best of what we are surrounded with is enriched. Certainly, that's a challenge that cannot be ignored.--Kinney, Eloise Copyright 2014 Booklist

Choice Review

Independent scholar N. M. Gwynne argues that this book will make the reader a "different person" owing to "the effect that improvement in grammar must unfailingly have on both mind and character." A bestseller in the UK, it offers an unapologetically prescriptive approach to grammar; Gwynne is not interested in language as it is, but language as it should be. He asserts that writing well is a matter of learning, obeying, and mastering rules, of which he provides the most important, with terms he deems essential highlighted in red. Gwynne includes William Strunk's 50-page 1918 edition of The Elements of Style, which he argues is a far more concise treatment of style than the 1957 version, edited by Strunk's student, E. B. White. Gwynne points out small differences between American and British English usage, and concludes by not merely listing but discussing items for further reading. Taken as a whole, this book does exactly what it sets out to do. It is an excellent introduction for those who wish to write correctly, and by doing so, to write well. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. --Laura R. Braunstein, Dartmouth College



Chapter 3 Further Encouragement Against the background of the last chapter, I find myself provoked into raising a question of some moment. Have I your attention, dear reader? Here is the question. Is this book that you have in your hands, in a way that really does matter, the single most important book in print in the English language today? At most, I am only partly joking. What I am trying to do is to make a serious point as arrestingly and vividly as I can. I certainly deny that what I have just said is com- pletely absurd. Let us now see if it is at least defensible. As has just been shown, and as was stressed by Libby Purves in the previous chapter, all thinking and communicating of any kind depend on grammar--grammar being simply the correct use of words, and words being the indispensable tools of thought. Indeed to dismiss the need for the accuracy in grammar that only reasonably diligent study and training can give is almost self-contradictory. You need correct grammar even to be able to argue as convincingly as you can against the need to learn grammar. To proceed. If every human activity depends ultimately on language, all that is left, in order to assess my claim, is to weigh up whether or not this book does the particular job it sets out to do better than any other book on grammar in print today. There is one significant difference between this book and any of its predecessors and contemporaries, and indeed between this book and any other book setting out to teach any academic subject. This book does not only teach what must be taught. It also tries to teach how best to teach what must be taught, for the purpose of making sure that the learner will absorb, understand and remember what he or she is trying to learn. I have listed those aims--absorb, understand and remember--in that order, because it is their order of importance. The order of teaching those three elements should be the opposite. Contrary to education theory most widely propagated today, memorising should come first, prefer- ably starting before understanding is even possible--that is, before what is commonly called the age of reason, about seven. The period before the age of reason happens to be the age when memorising is easiest. It is also the age when the vital task of memory training is most effectively done. This very much applies to some of the material in this book, which, as stated in Chapter 1, needs to be learnt by heart for it to be most useful, or indeed in some cases for it to be of any use at all. I know this from the many pupils of all ages that I have been teaching in recent years. Merely to understand a rule is almost never sufficient. Unless it is memorised, and in such a way as to keep it in the memory, all too soon, typically, children are as incapable of apply- ing the rule as if they had never come across it. I can "hear" protests. "It is not treating children with the dignity they deserve to stuff their memories with what they cannot understand." Do not believe it. First, no such objection is made to children's learning the genuinely incomprehensible "Eeny, meeny, miny, mo." Secondly, I repeat that the period before they reach the age of reason, at about seven years old, is when children find learning by heart easiest of all; and we are hardly being cruel by spending part of that time giving them a bank of knowledge which is ready and waiting to be used as soon as they become capable of using it and giving their memories valuable training at the same time. Thirdly, contrary to what is often supposed, children typically relish doing it. If you doubt me, you might like to visit the Gwynne Teaching Web site. There you will see some of my youngest pupils reciting--sometimes for con- siderable periods of time--things they do not yet understand, such as multiplication tables and Latin nouns and verbs, often beaming enthusiastically as they do so. If I have made something of a case in answer to the ques- tion at the beginning of this chapter, my main purpose has been less to boast, you my readers may be comforted to learn, than to stress yet further the supreme importance--supreme practical importance--of what you and I are en- gaged in together as you go through this book. My aim in doing so is to persuade you to be prepared to take on the genuinely hard work of tackling the science of your lan- guage, whether you be pupil or teacher. Just reading this book will achieve relatively little, however enlightening and helpful you may find what you read. What is in this book must be mastered. How best to set about doing this will be discussed in Chapter 9. Excerpted from Gwynne's Grammar by N. M. Gwynne All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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