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Practical English Usage: Practical English Usage [Paperback]

Michael Swan
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1 1995
An excellent guide to the problem areas of English.

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About the Author

Michael Swan is a writer specializing in English language teaching and reference materials. His interests include pedagogic grammar, mother-tongue influence in second language acquisition, and the relationship between applied linguistic theory and classroom language-teaching practice, and he has published a number of articles on these topics.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
As an English teacher, I can't live without this book. For many English speakers, it is difficult to explain some of the more esoteric points of grammar. In my experience, I've found that most grammar books are too basic, are filled with lots of unnecessary grammar exercises, or are difficult to use. This book, however, is easy to use and is created for the English teaching professional rather than for the English student. It's a breeze to check up on difficult points. All of the grammar points are listed in alphabetical order in an encyclopedic manner. In my teaching career, I've been asked many difficult questions that were difficult for me to answer. Every time, Swan's Practical English Usage came to my rescue. Every English teacher should have a copy of this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Well-Written Reference to English Grammar Feb. 28 2001
As a teacher of English as a Foreign Language I use Michael Swan's book often. It is organized alphabetically by topic and provides clear explanations to various types of usage. Need to find out about the use of the subjunctive form in English or whether it is permitted to use they/them/their to refer to a single indefinite person? This reference can answer those as well as many other elementary or advanced questions that may come up. The only source of confusion I have found was his partial omitting the terms 0,1,2,3 and Mixed Conditional tenses, grouping these all instead under "if". Many students learn the conditional tenses using the 0-M system and find it quite handy and useful in learning the various structures and meanings. The author mentions types 1-3 on pages 245-6, and then goes on to insist quite correctly that there are many different structures for "if". However, he fails to mention the "0" and "M" conditionals, which would account for most of the rest (including conditional sentences that do not use "if"). In all this could be a rather minor irritant to at least some users of this book.
To repeat my view, this is an excellent reference and one I recommend to my advanced students.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly useful reference on English grammar Jan. 30 2000
I have used this book a lot while studying English and I think IT IS WORTH BUYING for everybody who regularly uses English language and wants to speak and write correctly.
Practical English Usage contains hundreds of entries on English grammar, from elementary to advanced topics and some entries on other issues (pronunciation, usage of problematic words, style etc.). The entries are well selected with and well indexed, so I found answers for the vast majority of questions I have ever tried to look up.
Keep in mind, however, that the book can be used primarily as a REFERENCE. It is NOT structured for systematic, regular study and it is too dry for that purpose.
If you want to learn English grammar, I recommend that you get this book, together with Basic English Grammar by Eastwood and Mackin (with the exercises). Use Eastwood and Mackin's book for systematic study and complement it with Swan's book whenever you have any specific question. These books together cover ALL you'll ever need on English grammar (except if you need to be a professional in the field - such as a translator, university professor etc.).
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5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent reference book! Aug. 20 2000
I have a copy of Practical English Usage on my desk at school. I have other grammar reference books, such as Quirk and Greenbaum, at home, but this is by far the most useful for a teacher of English as a foreign language. Swan's style is to focus on the problem points of learners, and explain them and in simple, pithy and purposeful, everyday language to the extent that an advanced learner would be able to understand. As a teacher, you can often save yourself a lot of hassle simply by quoting from it. I like Practical English Usage because the examples are real, living English taken from the British National Corpus, or are realistic enough to be acceptable as such. Too many grammar books borrow their English from the past, or from the dialects of ivory-tower academics. This book redresses this imbalance. If you are not British, fear not, as another feature is its thorough coverage of the differences between British and American usage. (Other dialects are not covered.) If you are a teacher of English as a foreign language, or a smart student, you will not be disappointed with this Practical English Usage.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful grammar the size of a dictionary Jan. 18 2004
This grammar book has the size of a dictionary, and the entries are in alphabetical order for quick reference. It is "intended for intermediate and advanced students, and for teachers of English," as it is stated in the introduction. I particularly enjoy the bright white of the paper and the use of a brown-red for the entries, whereas their explanations are in black, in bold type and cursive. There are also ten very interesting pages about "newspaper headlines" and useful information on "stress, rhythm and intonation," as well as "weak and strong forms."
I have a degree in foreign languages and literatures and have taught English for the last ten years. I think everyone who studies the English language should have this book on their shelves, next to their dictionaries, for whatever your grammar doubt is, you'll quickly find a solution to your problem.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference book for questions of English usage
This book is very, very good. It is well structured, written in a simple, effective style and it is authoritative. Read more
Published on June 3 2003
This "Practical English Usage" deserves gratitude for the invaluable guidance it has given to millions of learners. Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2003 by reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars Bible for the TEFL/TESOL Educator
This is the bible for the TEFL educator. This is the most complete guide I've ever seen. Not only because of the amount of information it has, but how it's organized. Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2002 by K. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars useful handbook
This is a quick reference guide for everyday gammar use..
I really like this book. Obviously it would be helpful for a foreign language speaker to learn the correct pattern... Read more
Published on June 7 2001 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent non-prescriptive reference
Designed as a reference book, it is very easy to find what you're looking for. The style is simple and straight-forward, making it easy to use, even for non-native speakers of... Read more
Published on June 20 1999 by Brett Reynolds
5.0 out of 5 stars Very didactic and covering a lot of topics!
This is one of the best grammar books I've ever found! Following the British pattern of "How to explain" English grammar, it's very didadict and goes step by step... Read more
Published on April 13 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for English-as-a-Second Language teachers
This is the resource book all ESL teachers need; it explains all those little nuances of pronunciation and usage that we intuitively know but cannot explain. Read more
Published on July 22 1998
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