Top critical review
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Damaging for people trying to learn English grammar
on 26 October 2013
I bought a copy of this book to help with my work tutoring students for sixth form entrance exams. Many of them have English as a second language.
Bryon's book is well presented and the tests it includes are often good but it suffers from an irredeemable issue that could make it be actively damaging to the English language or Verbal Reasoning skills of someone using it:
Close to 1 in 5 of the answers given are just plain wrong.
I cannot believe or understand how it has been allowed to go to publication.
To give a few examples:
(In this exercise you have to pick the correct words to insert into the sentence)
21: 'The horrid tasting medicine cured the boy...his annoying habit...biting his nails.'
The correct answer should be 'of' and 'of' but this is not one of the options given:
A) From and of
B) Of and for
C) For and of
D) In and of
If one looks up the 'answer' in the back, it reads: 'B) Of and for. We say cured of something and the cure for something.'
On the same double page, in answer to question 19, the author writes that the expression 'surprised by' is incorrect. On the page before that, he states that 'the planet is covered with ocean' is correct and 'the planet is covered by ocean' is not.
Often, the author will offer several correct answers and insist that only one is right, which must be incredibly confusing for someone with English as a second language.
The paragraph true-or-false style questions towards the back are dreadfully composed and the differentiation between two of the possible answers 'false' and 'cannot tell' is often entirely arbitrary.
I really cannot emphasise enough how widespread these errors are.
I've turned to a page at random (86) and 3 of the 9 questions contain mistakes:
Question 72: Identify the verb in the sentence 'He was thinking about her only this morning.'
'Was' or 'was thinking' are not given as possible answers.
The "correct" answer is given as 'thinking' with the explanation that 'verbs describe actions such as thinking, deciding, laughing'. Thinking, deciding and laughing are all present participles, which act as nouns! To think, to decide and to laugh are verbs!
In question 79 and 80, the author once again arbitrarily dismisses two of the options he has given which are also entirely correct.
Really very disappointed in this book and, as I say, it could be actively unhelpful and damaging for someone teaching themselves. Really can't stress enough how common the mistakes are.