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English Grammar Boot Camp Lecture

English Grammar Boot Camp

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Publisher's Summary

Grammar! For many of us, the word triggers memories of finger-wagging schoolteachers, and of wrestling with the ambiguous and complicated rules of using formal language. But what is grammar? In fact, it's the integral basis of how we speak and write.

As such, a refined awareness of grammar opens a world of possibilities for both your pleasure in the English language and your skill in using it, in both speech and the written word. As a foundation for writing, a detailed grounding in grammar and usage will hugely expand your resources for meaningful verbal expression, for navigating the subtleties of the language, and for achieving clarity of communication and stylistic power.

In English Grammar Boot Camp, linguist and popular Great Courses instructor Professor Curzan takes you on an enjoyable exploration of the essential aspects of English grammar. These 24 spirited and accessible lectures offer you a comprehensive core training - a linguistic "boot camp," by which we mean a thorough immersion in all of the key elements of English grammar and usage, in their most immediate, practical application.

Here you get a breadth of perspective and context you won't find elsewhere, leaving you with a more choices and rich verbal resources for your own use of the language. In discussing the different parts of speech, Professor Curzan directs your attention to how the element at hand evolved. Highlighting reflections from 18th- and 19th-century usage guides as well as from multiple modern commentators, she guides you in examining real-world language use in a variety of contexts, helping you develop a sophisticated frame of reference and a deep awareness of the idiosyncrasies of English.

This delightful and superbly insightful course offers you a unique opportunity to explore the linguistic riches of the English language, and to significantly deepen your mastery of grammar, usage, and style.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2016 The Great Courses (P)2016 The Teaching Company, LLC

What Members Say

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  •  
    Quaker United States 09-24-16
    Quaker United States 09-24-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Spectacular"
    Where does English Grammar Boot Camp rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Among The Great Courses series on language, which are all excellent, I rate this one in the middle of the pack. It depends on what type of learning you want.


    What other book might you compare English Grammar Boot Camp to and why?

    Anne Curzan's first audio series "The Secret Life of Words" is one of my favorites titles on Audible, so I was both excited to listen this new course, and curious: How would this descriptivist linguist, who's quick to point out that English has many grammars, teach a English Grammar Boot Camp?

    I am pleased to report that Professor Curzan navigates the territory with great ease. Yes, she reminds us, the English language is not static. No, there is not one authoritative grammar. But there is a concept of "standard English," and while much of that has changed over time and debate persists over certain rules, you're listening to this series because you want to understand those rules and potential pitfalls, and Curzan brilliantly covers it all with humor, humility, and insight.

    You will learn the rules of usage, and you will also learn the origins of those rules, the logic behind them (if there is any), and how the rules of what's considered proper may be changing over time.

    It should also surprise no one familiar with Curzan's other courses that you will learn the differences between spoken English and written English, and how what's considered proper in one form may be unacceptable in the other.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I love Curzan's descriptions of the things she learns from her students. She describes how she frequently calls on them, as young users of the language, to help her document changes in usage as those changes enter the mainstream.

    She describes, among other things, how texting has its own grammar and punctuation, and makes the point that while some of us might view this as simply "bad english," there are in fact meaningful rules that are unique to the medium.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Absolutely not. It's quite long, and dense with information. I typically listened to two chapters a day.


    Any additional comments?

    For those who are prescriptivists looking to hone your sense of "proper" usage, you will no doubt find everything you're looking for, but prepare to also be humbled. It is inevitable that some rule you were taught in school and remembered all these years will be questioned.
    This very review, up through the previous sentence, is filled with grammar and punctuation that defies some conventional rules, yet falls into the category of modern acceptable usage. Curzan explains those distinctions, with particular focus on those words and rules that tend to trip us up the most, such as:
    That rule about never ending a sentence with a proposition
    Apostrophes, dashes, semicolons, and the oxford comma
    Who, whom, pronoun agreement, and all the other prounoun issues that trip us up
    Which vs. that, and relative pronouns
    Octopuses or octopi, and all the ways plurals trip us up
    Lie vs. lay, past tense vs. past participle
    Helping verbs, shall, can, may etc.
    Passive voice
    Adverbs
    Conjunctives
    Dangling modifiers
    etc.

    She will often stop short of declaring that a common usage is correct or incorrect, but will point out that if you make certain choices -- particularly in writing -- prepare to be judged.

    It's a unique, refreshing, and entertaining approach to grammar study. Highly recommended for the usage nerd in us all.

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J.B. Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States 11-17-16
    J.B. Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States 11-17-16 Member Since 2009

    Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Discombobulation Made Learnable"

    English Grammar Boot Camp by the Great Courses, authored and read by Professor Anne Curzan. The sequence of lectures is a study of each and every little piece of grammar you knew existed but could not put into a neat and organized cabinet from which you may un-shelf writing issues as you write the next great American novel. Like, when do it use to who or to whom, what are dangling participles and should I not dangle, are they acceptable or ungrammatical and what is a spit infinitive (aren’t those adjectives in any case) and why should I care what Henry Alfort says about my infinitives?

    Well, first off, grammar is unmanageable and no one really “discombobulates” it in any case. It is a mish-mash and will always be. (Oops. Can I leave a hanging “be” out there like that or is that just for participles?) Professor Curzan though does put it together into 24 logical categories and tells some very interesting stories about how words play with each other to assist in human communication. What she does very well though is give you a leg up on understanding what is acceptable and what might nevertheless be very communicative.

    Each lecture takes on a new area of problem defining, giving its historical origins and what she feels is the developing trend in grammatical propriety. I do not believe you will find anyone who loves her profession more. She thrills at talking about words and sentences. Her joy is concordant with her delivery. So the lectures are just plain fun to read. (By the way, Professor Curzan also has a wonderful section on why people respond to an inquiry by leading with the word, “so” as I just did.)

    Have fun. Read the course.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    IowaGreyhound Ogden, IA USA 10-16-16
    IowaGreyhound Ogden, IA USA 10-16-16 Member Since 2014
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    "great review with new insight"

    I really enjoyed this course. I listened on my commute, while gardening, doing laundry, etc. Now I want to take time to go through it again with the guidebook and concentrate on areas that are problems for me such as that and which, and dig deeper into new information she gave on both grammar and language change. I highly recommend this course. I hope she offers another one in the future.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. R. MCDANIEL 10-14-16
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    "Excellent review of the English language."

    I really enjoyed listening to all the lectures. I particularly liked how Ann interwove the history of English - showing the evolution of grammar.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MICHELLE A RHYNALDS 08-29-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Far too much background information."

    I was looking for a simple grammar course and what I received was an in-depth history of grammar. The lecturer just goes far too deep into the history of grammar. I am not interested in the debate surrounding grammar. I simply want the prescriptive rules.

    39 of 57 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mirmir 09-10-16
    mirmir 09-10-16
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    "Helpful and confusing!!!"

    Appreciated Ann's sense of humor. However, some parts of the lecture I got confused. Wish I had her number to clarify😊

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chance Pinole CA, United States 09-12-16
    Chance Pinole CA, United States 09-12-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Confused!!"

    What is this book about? How can this author be so out of focus? What is she talking about? the process on how Oxford dictionary gets updated? I have nothing to do with that. All I wanted to learn was the correct usage of grammar on a daily basis but the author was unable to deliver me that knowledge.

    19 of 33 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David B Graham san antonio, texas 10-10-16
    David B Graham san antonio, texas 10-10-16 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "this is not a bootcamp-not quick or short"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Less historical background. More about the basics of grammar.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Anne Curzan’s performances?

    no


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointment, still searching for good book on basic grammar instruction.


    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn knight 12-03-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Great course! Informative, clear, and enjoyable!"

    I learned a lot from this course and am sorry there aren't more lectures. Anne Curzan is a wonderful lecturer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mervin Brown 11-15-16 Member Since 2016
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    "I learned so much! Great job Anne!"

    It was as if I had gone back to my primary school days. I will be listening again and again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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