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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cluttered and inadequate, 15 Jun. 2009
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This review is from: Advanced Grammar in Use With CD ROM (Paperback)
The demand for an advanced grammar to complement the Murphy grammar series, which is established as standard, had been growing for years at the time "Advanced Grammar in Use" appeared. As its copycat name suggests, it set out to continue where Murphy finishes, even continuing with the same format (explanations on the left, two drills and an excercise on the right).
Any attempt to provide an advanced English grammar book will be a daunting task, mainly because a large part of English grammar is not proscriptive (as in der/die/das in German for example) but a matter of shades in meaning, as in the difference between I will have/shall have/will be having/shall be having/going to have/going to be having. This is extremely difficult to "teach" in a book and the key in any exercises is highly problematic, since in English at an advanced level, the right solution is often largerly dependent on a context and intention which requires considerable explanation. The format successfully used in the standard Murphy is inadequate for advanced English exercises and a glance at the book should make it clear that there is too much material for the simple Murpohy format. The book creaks and groans with too much text. That Hewings chose to use the Murphy format (or was he urged to do so by his publisher?) looks suspiciously like laziness-the appearance of this book is very dull and uninviting.
There is not enough space in amazon to cover all that is bad about this book but here are some serious failings:
1) Cluttered, uninviting appearance (see above)
2) A failure to stress the relative frequency of usages. Eg on page 32 the use of will in the relatively unusual and somewhat old fashioned sense of characteristic behaviour, with the example "Dan will come home from work and turn on the tv" and uses of the future continuous on page 22 with no indication of the importance of understanding the very frequent use of the future continuous compared to the relatively unimportant meaning of characteristic behaviour
3) The six future forms are not presented together in one exercise. The writer ducks the difficutlties of such an exercise (which is however exactly what an advanced learner needs)and instead just offers a will/going to exercise and present simple versus continuous in the future and future continuous and future perfect (this hardly offers a challenge to a good intermediate student, let alone advanced student).
4) The "Index of lexical items" lists page numbers with no explanation of what function of a word is being referred to eg under "need" we find page references 38,46,130,194,204,208,221. The index/contents are badly organized and tiresome to use.
5) There is no space given to controversial areas, or areas where popular usage completely replaces what is arguably grammatically correct -eg this is me/this is I
6) The poorly managed index lists neither the word "gerund" nor "infinitive" ! To find gerunds and infinitives we have to go to the Contents ( Verb + ing forms and infinitives) The gerund versus infinitive problem only merits two units-and this one of the most difficult areas of advanced English grammar!
This book does make a number of observations which may make it worth dipping into from time to time, but even where it provides such (eg with some and any) it misses important points (eg the use of "any" in affirmative sentences-"you can call me any time"-"anything you say governor!").

The book is selling well because there is a huge demand for advanced English grammar exercises. I bought this book myself and wish I hadn't-I haven't used the exercises for pracical work once yet with any of my classes. I shall just have to keep using my own exercises. I strongly advise any trainer to continue to make their own exercises and explanations if they can. Only a student without a trainer might find this book useful and I am sure most will and are waiting for something better to come out.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Jul 2010, 11:51:49 BST
Thanks for your comments - what you say makes a lot of sense and is certainly appreciated. What I personally found a tad disappointing was your spelling and the 'cluttered' appearance of your review. For a teacher of English, this is surprising, not to mention rather disturbing; or maybe that's just me.

Posted on 11 Apr 2012, 18:56:46 BST
SmethwickTed says:
After reading your negative review with all its grammatical errors, I think I will buy the book.

Posted on 22 Jun 2012, 14:57:47 BST
janulik85 says:
Hi,

I bought the book about two weeks ago and only now had I chance to browse through it quickly.
I must say that although the teacher above did make grammatical mistakes and her comment was rather cluttered and unreadable, she was right about the book.

What a disappointment!
Some of Hewing's explanations are rather primitive and somewhat liberal.

'You can use this, but you can also use this and this' - I mean what the heck?

INSTEAD of pinpointing:

' this is when you use this'...example
' this is more common expression but less common in the United States'....example
' and this you only use in this case'....example

FURTHERMORE

he explains:

you have broken your finger - NOT you have been breaking
He has been playing football - NOT he has played football
I have been using a new kind of paint - NOT I have used

RATHER, HE COULD HAVE BEEN MORE SPECIFIC AND CLEARER:

you have broken your finger - NOT you have been breaking ......the emphasis on result NOT activity - as it happened in the nick of time
He has been playing football - NOT he has played football ...... the emphasis on activity as a result - that's why he is sweaty now
I have been using a new kind of paint - NOT I have used ...... the emphasis on activity as a result - your walls look so vibrant and colourful!

All in all, very poorly written grammar text book with very poor examples and excercises.
For a an advanced student of grammar are just dead easy - not challenging a one bit!

I hope that my comment makes sense to you guys.
I might have made some mistakes in a process, but I didn't want to spend 2 hours on writing this review =)

Hawk!

Posted on 13 Aug 2012, 12:46:54 BST
José López says:
I can't agree more with the writer of the comment. The book lacks a high number of important issues for such an important level of english (let's remember this is ADVANCED, which basically means that you are nailing the top of your learning).

Even though, I want to say something possitive about the book: it might come in handy as a support book, to go over then and again but I definitively don't recommend using it as the main book for your studies.
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