Book Review

06/06/2022 - 21:53

A New English Grammar: American Edition (2021) by Andrew Rossiter (Linguapress)

Reviewed by Melanie Gobert

An invitation to interview this book in the BELTA newsletter piqued my interest. Why, in the age of the internet, where everything can be found at the touch of a finger, would the world need another English grammar book, particularly an American Edition? In fact, the author writes in the preface “Is it necessary to have a special American English edition? To be quite honest, the answer is ‘not really,’ though American readers and international students wanting specifically to learn American English will find it useful!”

The book contains four sections, 1. Verbs (with 19 subsections); 2. The Noun phrase (with 9 subsections); 3. Other parts of speech (with 4 subsections); and 4. Sentences and clauses (with 8 subsections, 6, plus 2 on Punctuation and Language and style). In the preface, the author himself discusses that the major differences between American and British English (which he emphasizes are the same language), concern vocabulary and spelling and not so much grammar. The subtitle of the book is “English Grammar by example,” and the book promises lots of examples.

A quick glimpse on the first page offers these nuggets of examples. The author defines a verb and uses the infinitive form (to + base form) to mention some examples of actions, processes, and situations, such as “to break,” “to sleep,” and “to be.” Another example mentioned on this page is “The president sneezed,” and I wondered to myself in which context I would be likely to read this sentence. In this first section, the author quickly proceeds to discuss transitive/intransitive verbs, stative/dynamic verbs, tense, aspect, voice, modality, moods, and the subjunctive.

I navigated to subsequent sections of the book of particular interest to those wanting to learn or understand the differences between American and British English, such as the verbs “have,” and “get/got,” and “make” and “do.” Here the book really shows its strength. There are clear and concise explanations of how these are used in the language and extensive examples illustrating their use. In section 2, the author goes into a great deal of detail about the different ways English uses articles, quantifiers, and relative pronouns, again with copious examples.

One of the best parts of the book comes at the end in Section 4, Sentences and clauses. Here, there are explanations of different aspects of grammar not previously covered in the book, such as word order and punctuation, as well as a comprehensive glossary of grammatical terms. The section on language and style gives examples of six different styles, from “jargon, very formal” to “relaxed, informal spoken style: discussion,” with examples to illustrate each one. The book also uses a color-coding system which is very helpful to the reader; dark rust red highlights keywords, and other colors such as scarlet, blue, or green contrast different structures and categories.

It has often been quoted that “English is an easy language to learn and a difficult one to master.” English is a tricky language, and this book will be a handy reference for teachers of English as a Second or additional (Foreign) Language and students who are trying to master English, especially American English.


Also published as Nouvelle Grammaire descriptive de l’Anglais contemporain: Grammaire anglaise par l'exemple (2020) and A Descriptive Grammar of English: Modern English grammar by example (English Edition) (2020)

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Melanie Gobert is an English language teacher. She recently moved from the United Arab Emirates to Belgium. She has published widely on vocabulary acquisition, extensive reading, teaching writing, and technology in education. Recent contributions include “The development of a large scale online cross-listed course to teach life and study skills” (2022, Springer) and “Helping Arabic learners negotiate the linguistic challenges posed by English as a medium of instruction” (Routledge, forthcoming). She currently serves on the Nominating Committee of TESOL International Association.