New for 2017: as featured in The Times and The Sun

English Grammar: Your Questions Answered

by Michael McCarthy


What does the book help you with?
Most of us only vaguely remember what we were taught at school and are put off by long, tedious, dense and pedantic grammar manuals. This book is written in a concise, chatty and informal style.

  • A to Z format makes it easy to access and to find what you’re looking for.
  • Tells you in simple, plain language the difference between things that look similar (for example, alternate versus alternative, made of versus made from, its versus it’s).
  • Explains how to avoid going wrong with issues such as agreement between subjects and verbs or the choice of pronouns after prepositions.
  • Presents solutions to a host of common, everyday grammatical problems.
  • Gives guidance on appropriate usage where more than one way of saying something exists.
  • Distinguishes between spoken and written grammar where appropriate
  • Entries also include advice on vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation, punctuation and style.


Mike McCarthy believes in describing present-day standard English as it really is, not how people think it is or how they think it should be. He has worked for the last 35 years with computerised corpora of everyday written and spoken English texts and is known especially for his work on the differences between the grammar of speaking and the grammar of writing. The example sentences he presents are clear, transparent illustrations of the grammatical conventions, based on his work with corpora and his extensive, detailed field-notes covering decades, gleaned from literature, correspondence, the media and ordinary conversation. He tells you what the traditional rules are as well as what people are writing or saying now, and gives reasons why you might choose one or the other. He is not afraid of change and sees the grammar of English as a living, evolving organism, which he demonstrates with occasional glances at grammars written in the distant and recent past. He respects the many accents, varieties and dialects of English but tells you what the educated standard forms are, so that you can speak and write appropriately.  This book helps you to navigate the maze of grammatical alternatives and to make the right choice for the right occasion. It is a book to browse and enjoy, as well as being a useful reference work to keep on your bookshelf.


“Professor McCarthy has achieved a wonderful feat in writing English Grammar: Your Questions Answered. He answers many of the niggling and persistent questions we face when making choices about how best to say or write something. 

"Written for anyone with an interest in modern English language, this is a witty, succinct and pragmatic book which never patronizes, but which constantly engages.” 
Professor Michael J. A. Handford

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