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The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic…

The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical… (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Roy Peter Clark

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3721846,308 (3.69)1 / 22
Early in the history of English, the words "grammar" and "glamour" meant the same thing: the power to charm. Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools, aims to put the glamour back in grammar with this fun, engaging alternative to stuffy instructionals. In this practical guide, readers will learn everything from the different parts of speech to why effective writers prefer concrete nouns and active verbs. THE GLAMOUR OF GRAMMAR gives readers all the tools they need to"live inside the language"--to take advantage of grammar to perfect their use of English, to instill meaning, and to charm through their writing. With this indispensable book, readers will come to see just how glamorous grammar can be.… (more)
Title:The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English
Authors:Roy Peter Clark
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:non-fiction, linguistics, grammar, how-to, ELL

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The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English by Roy Peter Clark (2010)

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Before you buy this book, you have to answer one simple question: do you already know a bit about the grammar of the English language? If you answer yes, I'd recommend skipping this volume and looking elsewhere for further enlightenment. Otherwise, dive in.

I previously read Roy Peter Clark's excellent book on Writing Tips, learning a massive amount that I was able to apply to my own writing immediately. The short chapters suited his material, and I felt like it was a good book to turn to for a few minutes each day to learn something new.

Unfortunately, as an experienced teacher of English as a foreign language, I already knew very nearly everything that Clark wanted to discuss here, and I have taught much of the same material or content points in far great depth to my own students. For example, the chapter on 'articles' (a, an, and the) is far too slight, and does not offer anything useful by way of differentiation between the different forms. To make matters worse, the zero article (so called because no article is present - 'England' has a zero article, whereas 'The United Kingdom' takes the definite article) is completely overlooked.

Where Clark is strongest is where there is overlap between this book and his Writing Tips. His discussion of the different ways in which sentences can be said to 'branch' was both interesting and informative, and carried with it enough examples - which Clark analyses - to be worth reading. This chapter is almost double the length of the one on articles, which is a curious thing to note given how tenuous the connection is between 'branching sentences' and 'English grammar'.

And that's the problem through much of this short text - there's simply not enough grammar to justify the glamour. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Feb 8, 2018 |
This book is geared more toward aspiring writers, discussing the various elements of writing (words, sentences, syntax) and the concepts of meaning and purpose in order to help the reader write more effectively. It even has little "keepsakes" at the end of each chapter that sometimes take the form of exercises to perform. Overall it was an okay book, but the "words" section got a little bit "woo" and mystical-seeming for me, and I didn't really learn anything new from it. Or at least not about grammar: I did learn an interesting tidbit about the band ? and the Mysterians. I also found the "keepsakes" somewhat repetitive, especially when they came after a chapter that was only two pages long. This is probably better as a library borrow than a purchase. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Apr 30, 2016 |
This is a useful survey of the way English can most effectively be used, constructed not as a "rule book" but as a "tool box". Starting with the single word, the author works up through "points" (punctuation), "standards" (words in use), "meaning" (sentences), and "purpose" (style). It is less rule-driven than many older grammars, but doesn't throw rules out the window -- rather, it discusses them as something to be worked with. The style is breezy and the range of quotations wide.

This seemed to me a perfect guide for my 14-year old nephew, who loves to write and is interested in how to do it. The book is accessible and fun to read. It is also very well structured as a learning aid: the chapters are short and focussed, and the "keepsake" sections at the end of each chapter are helpful summaries.

For a long-term language maven, it is an enjoyable read, but may not add that much new information. Also, the author does have some crotchets (like most writers on grammar) and some of these can become irritating. Finally, the author is very much there in this book, which can get in the way of the information he is providing. ( )
  annbury | Dec 14, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
One day I sat down to read “The Glamour of Grammar” and didn’t even finish the first chapter. Obviously it was not the right time to read this book. Or perhaps it was not the right way for me to read this book. What I have done since is pick it up and read a chapter or two of it, put it down and return later. In this way I have enjoyed and learned from this book.

I didn’t know that many Jews write the word God as G-d. The reason for this is found in the biblical story of Moses and the burning bush. This is in the chapter on “Master the elliptical art of leaving things out.”

The chapter “Adopt a favorite letter of the alphabet.”
was fun. I liked the idea of selecting your favourite letters to form an initial and selecting a baby’s name using the initials.

Clark pulls examples from newspaper headlines in “Place modifiers where they belong,” or the musician who legally changed his name to Question Mark. How computers, unlike typewriters, allow you to control how the text will look on the screen and the printed page.

The Keepsakes at the end of chapters are useful in summarizing a chapter, reminding you as you flip through the pages what the key elements are from that section. An example from the Keepsake for “Make sentence fragments work for you and the reader;” show ways to shock the reader, provide a moment of relief or focus the reader on a key point.

Regardless of your approach to reading “The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English” you will learn from it as well as enjoy this different and entertaining way to look at grammar. I certainly recommend it. ( )
1 vote pmarshall | Sep 11, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Practical English indeed.
What a marvelous book Roy Clark has written on what many think of as a decidedly unmarvelous subject: Grammar.
Succinct, pithy, without the English Garden mazes one so often wanders dazedly through in dry recitations of rules, Mr. Clark's book is not only informative but fun, no small task given the subject's normal dry-as-dust theme. I have many books on style and accepted usage, but I have found none to be as readily translatable into the freeing (although frequently frustrating) act of putting words to paper as The Glamour of Grammar.
The book is divided up into five categories of usage: Words; Points (punctuation); Standards (acceptable usage); Meaning (applications); and Purpose (using the spice rack of our native tongue). Each of these larger concepts is in turn further honed by various specific subsets of the point Mr. Clark is making, each replete with lively and often humorous examples of just exactly what it is he is trying to show his audience.
For example, under the rubric of "Words", we find hints about your personal lexicography (think Humpty-Dumpty), the importance of distinction in clear writing and the joy of homophones and alliteration when used in moderation. "Points" refers to punctuation, and includes sections on the possessive apostrophe, the colon/dash/parenthesis battlefield and even "reclaiming" the exclamation point! "Standards" includes the difference (disappearing in public discourse) between literal and figurative (No John, the safety did not “literally” knock the receiver’s head off), and the constant battle (in my mind, at any rate) between the various uses and tenses of Lay and Lie. “Meaning”, among other things, highlights the flaccidity of the passive voice (politician-speak for when they have been caught with their hand in the till (or on a page)), and the isthmusian duties of the complex sentence. Finally, “Purpose” makes clear the to-often-misunderstood difference between Connotation and Denotation, the pox of the creeping CAPITAL, and the correctness of the “incorrect” (nonstandard and dialect) English in your writing.
A two-night read, this was an eight sticky-note book which gave me leads to four other books and/or authors- not bad for a grammar text. ( )
  JNSelko | Sep 4, 2011 |
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To Jane Dystel and Tracy Behar, my glamorous sisters of the word.
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My first rock 'n roll record, a heavy 78 rpm vinyl disk, was "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley.
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