Explaining English Grammar

Explaining English Grammar

A guide to explaining grammar for teachers of English as a second or foreign language.

Format: Paperback
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Shortlisted for the Ben Warren Prize

A fresh approach to explaining grammar, written specifically for language teachers. Detailed explanations are supported by exercises and practical teaching ideas.

  • ISBN: 978-0-19-437172-8

For teachers, one of the most challenging student reactions to being taught grammar is this: 'I understand how to use this structure, but why do I have to use it?'

In this book, George Yule focuses on the grammar topics that give rise to these why-questions. His explanations link form, meaning, and real-life use, and are supported throughout by exercises and discussion points.

Key features

  • The author draws on his experience as both a leading applied linguist and a hands-on classroom teacher of English
  • Choice of topics and style of explanations focus on the needs of language teachers
  • Separates each grammar topic covered into three clear categories: form, meaning, and meaning in context.
  • You can read each chapter individually and you don't have to follow the sequence of topics in the book.
  • Can be used as a set book or supplementary book on a teacher training course, or by both new and experienced practising teachers as a self-study text

Read more...

Having to explain a grammar point can be daunting for teachers. The kinds of explanations that will help language students aren't always the ones you will find in a traditional, 'academic' grammar book or guide. Instead, Explaining English Grammar is a pedagogical guide, designed to help explain the 'whys' as well as the 'hows' of English grammar.

The book is organized into ten chapters. Each chapter covers a specific grammar topic. After an introductory chapter, the topics covered are:
- Articles
- Tense and aspect
- Modals
- Conditionals
- Prepositions and particles
- Indirect objects
- Infinitives and gerunds
- Relative clauses
- Direct and indirect speech

This sequence is designed to cover the more basic topics first, and then to go into more complex areas. However, the chapters are also free-standing, so you can read them in any order - or leave some out - if you prefer.

Each chapter has a similar structure.

- First there is a section that describes and gives examples of basic forms and structures. These descriptions and examples are based on Corpus research, which makes it possible to say that one form is typically used more often than another in real texts.

- The next section moves on to look at how we use different structures to convey different basic meanings. These descriptions draw on research in semantics.

- Finally, there is a section on 'meaning in context' - in other words, the ways in which these meanings are affected by the context in which they are used, and how they are used to convey information. Again, this section is informed by research in both pragmatics and discourse analysis.

You can find additional information - and references to the research studies referred to - in 'Further reading' sections at the end of each chapter.

Also, after each section, there are summary boxes of the main points, followed by exercises that you can do on your own and/ or discuss with fellow trainees. (There are answers to these questions in an Appendix.) At the end of each chapter, there is a section containing discussion topics and projects for further investigation, and another section with ideas for classroom exercises, activities, and tasks.

Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface

1 Introduction
Overview
Basic Forms
- On terminology
- On being ungrammatical
- On good English
Basic meanings
- 'I am more interesting in English Grammar'
- Why can I say 'I shot the sheriff', but not *'I smiled the sheriff'?
- Linguistic distance
Meanings in context
- Discussion topics and projects
- Teaching ideas
- Further reading

2 Articles
Overview
Basic forms
- An article machine
Basic meanings
- Countability
- Singular or plural?
- Individuation
- Conceptual structure: classifying and identifying
Meanings in context
- Already given: anaphoric and cataphoric (the)
- Clearly given (zero article)
- A note on a new article
- Discussion topics and projects
- Teaching ideas
- Further reading

3 Tense and aspect
Overview
Basic forms
- The basic structure
Basic meanings
- Tense
- Aspect
- Lexical aspect
- Grammatical aspect
Meanings in context
- In a magazine article
- In academic writing
- In narratives
- In a news report
- In spoken discourse
- Discussion topics and projects
- Teaching ideas
- Further reading

4 Modals
Overview
Basic forms
- The simple modals
Basic meanings
- Epistemic modality
- Root modality
- Necessary and possible
Meanings in context
- The potential of can
- The possibility of may
- The necessity of must
- The likelihood of will
- The requirements of should
- Negation and modals
- Discussion topics and projects
- Teaching ideas
- Further reading

5 Conditionals
Overview
Basic forms
- Factual conditionals
- Predictive conditionals
- Hypothetical conditionals
- Counterfactual conditionals
Basic meanings
- What happens if ... ?
- What will happen if ... ?
- What would happen if ... ?
- What would have happened if ... ?
Meanings in context
- Restating
- Contrasting
- Listing alternatives
- Giving examples
- End-weight
- Uncertainty and politeness
- Exceptional and concessive conditionals
- Discussion topics and projects
- Teaching ideas
- Further reading

6 Prepositions and particles
Overview
Basic forms
Prepositions
Basic meanings: prepositions
- Location in space
- Location in time
- Location in metaphor
Particles
Basic meanings: particles
- Up and down
- Off, on, out, and away
Meanings in context
- End-weight
- Discussion topics and projects
- Teaching ideas
- Further reading

7 Indirect objects
Overview
Basic forms
- Types of verbs
- Basic structures: origins and pronunciation
Basic meanings
- Humans, transfer, and having
- Transfer and not having
- Creating, getting, and benefiting
Meanings in context
- End-weight
- Linguistic distance
- Discussion topics and projects
- Teaching ideas
- Further reading

8 Infinitives and gerunds
Overview
Basic forms
Basic meanings
- Group 1: verbs with only finite (that ...) complements
- Group 2: verbs with only to-V non-finite complements
- Group 3: verbs with only V-ing non-finite complements
- Group 4: verbs with both to-V and V-ing complements
Meanings in context
- Noun-like events
- Verb-like actions
- Deny and refuse
- Types of verbs
- Linguistic distance
- Discussion topics and projects
- Teaching ideas
- Further reading

9 Relative clauses
Overview
Basic forms
- Subject relatives
- Object relatives
- After-preposition relatives
- Possessive relatives
- Basic structures
Basic meanings
- Who, which, that
- Where, when, why
Meanings in context
- Introducing new information
- Connecting with given information
- End-weight
- Discussion topics and projects
- Teaching ideas
- Further reading

10 Direct and indirect speech
Overview
Basic forms
Basic meanings
- Direct speech as drama
- Indirect speech as narrative
- Summarized reports
- Reporting verbs
- 'The teachers were saying ...'
Meanings in context
- Free indirect discourse
- Constructed dialogue
- Discussion topics and projects
- Teaching ideas
- Further reading

Glossary
Bibliography
Answers to exercises
Index

Reviews

  • 'A joy to read.'
    - Judges of the Ben Warren Prize 1999

e-Book


Explaining English Grammar is also available in e-book format.