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The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar (Penguin Reference Books) [Paperback]

R L Trask
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

31 Aug 2000 Penguin Reference Books
This succinct and authoritative volume is the perfect guide to the many grammatical laws and idiosyncrasies that govern the English Language. Larry Trask writes with remarkable clarity, communicating complex abstract ideas with enviable ease. By focusing only on what is relevant, current and genuinely helpful, THE PENGUIN DICTIONARY OF GRAMMAR is essential reading for linguists, English Language students, and indeed anyone who writes in English. The Society of Freelance Edtitors and Proofreaders recommended his PUNCTUATION book as 'excellent'.

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The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar (Penguin Reference Books) + The Penguin Guide to Punctuation (Penguin Reference Books) + The Penguin Writer's Manual (Penguin Reference Books)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 1st edition (31 Aug 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140514643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140514643
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

From the Publisher

Some sample entries:


Any of various constructions in which some element of a sentence is removed from its normal position and certain extra words are added to highlight the cleft. The purpose of a cleft is to place the clefted element into FOCUS. For example, starting with the sentence Mike wants a new car, we can form an IT-CLEFT to focus either on Mike (It's Mike who wants a new car) or on a new car (It's a new car Mike wants). Or we can form a WH-CLEFT (or PSEUDO-CLEFT) to focus on a new car: What Mike wants is a new car or A new car is what Mike wants.


A CLAUSE which is capable of making a complete sentence by itself; a clause which is not a SUBORDINATE CLAUSE. A sentence always contains at least one main clause, and a SIMPLE SENTENCE consists only of a single main clause. In the simple sentence Susie finished her drink, the whole sentence is the main clause. In the COMPOUND SENTENCE Susie cooked dinner, and Natalie did the washing-up, there are two main clauses connected by and. See also MATRIX CLAUSE.


The construction in which a phrase is moved out of its ordinary position to the beginning of the sentence in order to serve as a TOPIC. Consider the following sentence: I can't recommend this book. It is possible to move the noun phrase this book to the front of the sentence in order to produce This book I can't recommend, in which this book is topicalized: that is, the new sentence is a comment about this book.

About the Author

Professor Trask has taught in the School of Cognitive and Computing Science at the University of Sussex since 1988. He is the author of many books on language and linguistics including THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO PUNCTUATION and A DICTIONARY OF GRAMMATICAL TERMS IN LINGUISTICS (Routledge) and he is currently working on THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO COMMON ERRORS IN ENGLISH.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Larry Trask was one of the greatest contemporary writers on linguistics and grammar, and all his books are packed with lucid, complete, and often very witty descriptions. The cover of this book claims that it shows "How to use English correctly". This is perhaps misleading, because the book is not principally a usage guide. (Two other books by Trask - "Mind the Gaffe" and "The Penguin Guide to Punctuation - do provide solid, clear guidance on writing; anyone looking for instruction on how to write well should get hold of copies of these books first - they are indispensable.) The "Dictionary of English Grammar" contributes to better writing in a more indirect way. It provides succinct and clear definitions of terms and concepts, many of them quite technical, that are used to describe English grammar. In so doing it "enables us to see how language works and how to use it in the right ways" (from the back cover). Despite running to only 148 pages, the book is pretty comprehensive, and just as important it is contemporary. Authorities on English grammar often use terms and concepts in different and conflicting ways, and this can leave the student perplexed and irritated. A major value of Trask's book is that it summarizes these differences; for example, traditional and more recent definitions of "clause" are both explained. So if you have been confused by the varied terminologies used in different sources, this book will provide invaluable help in resolving your questions. This book is a handy reference for anyone interested in the structure of English and the vocabulary used to describe it. But be warned; this is a dictionary of grammatical terms, not a grammar. It makes an ideal partner to a student grammar (such as Longman), but it is not a substitute for one. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars So useful 4 Mar 2014
By Jessica
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is brilliant for keeping on hand to look up terms. I found it particularly useful when wanting to reference definitions for my university coursework. I use it all the time - I couldnt do my grammar module without it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 3 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is very useful for any students studying English language. It provides clear definitions and examples for many key words and concepts related to English grammar.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ok. Serves a purpose 1 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good tool for those studying English, but difficult for those with less understanding. Good for more advanced terminology and understanding.
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27 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for undergrad degree students!! 15 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This book explores the elementry aspects of English Grammar, word class etc but at a higher level and using different tests than what your average A level student will be used to, a great introduction to degree level linguistics and useful extra reading for A level students who are looking for the top grade.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars English as it is spoke. 27 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good reference book but not in the same league as the Collins Instant Facts 'English.'
It could be more colloquial.
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