QUESTION 16 - ABOUT GOOD ENGLISH GRAMMAR BOOKS
Date: July 22, 2011
I wish to buy your Logically Structured English Grammar, but I have a few questions in my mind so, please, guide me as soon as
possible so that I can buy your grammar book with more confidence. My questions are as follows.
A few of my friends told me that Longman's "Grammar of Spoken and Written English" by Douglas Biber is better than your
grammar book, because your grammar book is the exact replica of this book such as graphs are concerned. Therefore, I request
you kindly guide me through the plus points of your grammar book as compared to the following grammar books.
1. Longman's "Grammar of Spoken and Written English" by
Douglas Biber [CT note: this book is 1204 pages of a perfectly non-functional grammar (way too elementary) based on word statistics and
on common usage. There is no Sentence Syntax in this book, as a minimum minimorum, therefore it represents the certain recipe of prolonging
2. "A Comprehensive Grammar Of The English Language" by Randolph Quirk [CT note:
this book is 1779 pages: 90%
gibberish about grammar, 10% interesting observations. It contains the most amount of words of all 4 books—even more than
LSEG4! Note that this baby is considered "grammatical Bible" among the connoisseurs! Still, Morphology, Sentence Syntax, and
Complex Sentence Syntax are all entangled together into a perfectly hermetical mess.]
3. "The Cambridge Grammar Of The English Language" by Rodney Huddleston [CT note: 1860 pages of
grammatical fantasies. Based on the "relative grammar" pattern introduced by the formidable
managed to confuse Syntax for Semantics consistently, throughout his entire work—this book tells everything, but
grammar! No Sentence Syntax, no Complex Sentence Syntax, as for Morphology . . . Some unfocused general Punctuation rules though
. . .]
4. "The Oxford English Grammar" By Sidney Greenbaum [CT note: 668 pages of unusable descriptive
grammar. The accent is on word-Semantics, not on Grammar. No Syntax at all.]
I know you might be thinking that I am just a time waster, but keep in mind that your little
attention will not only make me the confident buyer of your grammar book, but most of the English students from all around the World
will be satisfied with your guidance. All the above mentioned four grammar books are the competitors of your grammar book such as
pricewise [CT note: LSEG4 is way, way cheaper],
size-wise, and their writers' experience and reputation [CT
note: thank you very much, Sir, though we are not quite worthy of such a flattering comparison].
From A M - Bradford, UK
A16. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion, among our site visitors, about "what is a good English grammar book".
Consider our reply to A M's email.
Dear A M,
Thank you for your email, and for your consideration of our book. You have requested quite an elaborate answer, A, because
it is not easy to explain in just a few words the "exact differences" between our book, LSEG, and each of the books you have
listed—those differences are way too great. Note that the book "A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language" spans on
1700 pages, and it is just one out of four! Now, due to the short format of our answer, it may be it will sound a little bit
rough to you; therefore, please, excuse us for this.
All four books you have listed come from the "modern" UK school of grammar; consequently, all of them treat grammatical
subjects the same. We are talking here about "the new modified (descriptive) English grammar" that was "sold" to us after WW2. The idea
was to complicate English grammar as much as possible, so that the British could develop an entire industry around teaching
English to the entire World—which they actually did.
Today, people study English grammar for two, five, ten, even for
twenty years, and they still do not know Grammar—fact is, there is no way they could. In our book, LSEG, we do not agree
to that approach on English grammar.
Each of the books you have listed reveals its content exactly in its title: "A Comprehensive Grammar . . .", "Grammar
of Spoken . . .", "The Cambridge Grammar . . .", and "The Oxford English Grammar":
one is "a"
version of the English grammar, and each was made possible exactly by the new descriptive interpretation of the classic English grammar.
In reality, in our day-to-day life however, there is only one, good, plain English grammar: "the" classic one—the
collective work of thousands over centuries. Now if, in addition, "the" classic English grammar is also "logically
structured", then all the better!
We are puzzled with the idea that LSEG could seem the "exact replica" of Longman's "Grammar of Spoken and Written English":
there is nothing further from the truth. The form of the book is not a good reference to evaluate the content, A. In fact,
and considering all four books together, LSEG is the only book you could use in order to understand "something" from "any"
of the books you have mentioned. LSEG presents "the" classic English grammar: it explains the right grammatical
principles, the true simple definitions, and the adequate logic structures; in addition, LSEG is indeed complete. Please
take no offence, Sir, but you cannot know what the complete English grammar is, given the list of books you sent to us. If
you intend to understand English grammar, then you have to study LSEG before anything else.
It is not that LSEG is our book, A, and we just say it is better than all the other books; no, Sir, things are far more
complex. You see, we noticed that very, very many of our clients "think" they know English grammar since they have
studied it for years using "the most reputable books". Naturally, it is not their fault since they are just
students willing to learn; the blame resides exactly in those grammar books that advertise all sort of absurd "modern
innovations". Just an example, from "A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language" (1700 pages), we were able to
identify, roughly, about 20 pages of logic grammar; the rest of it is just gibberish about grammar. We cannot recommend that
. . . "thing" to anyone.
Next, Longman's "Grammar of Spoken and Written English" is based on statistics, "because people talk
that way", except that is not grammar: ordinary people (the vast majority)
do not speak English grammatically!
Besides, the very purpose of learning grammar is to control English better than the average, right? Not to mention that
grammar means a lot more than just talking. Consider the extraordinary IT wonders we enjoy today: they have sprung, at some
point in time, straight from (the classic and universal) grammar!
Overall, in all four books Morphology and
Syntax are entangled together into an impossible mess: morphologic elements are
presented . . . accidentally, at best, while syntactic elements are anything but syntactic elements! Further, none of the
authors you have mentioned makes the distinction between "Sentence Syntax" and "Complex Sentence Syntax", and we suspect
that none has a definite mind on what those two great different grammatical domains really are.
Note that English grammar is (and it must be) perfectly logic, clear, and simple, A, and this is exactly the way it is
presented in LSEG. Again, if you want to understand what those authors strive to explain in any of the four books you have
listed, then you have to study LSEG first. In this way, you yourself will discover the innumerable senseless errors lurking in those books.
Again, please excuse us for being so abrupt in our judgment, but there is no way we could express things nicer, or milder,
To end this, please note that we cannot claim the credit for our exceptional book. LSEG presents "the" classic English
grammar that was developed for centuries by countless of grammar researchers, authors and teachers, most of them unknown to us
today: they represent the classic British school of grammarians. LSEG is just the instrument needed to dissipate the
confusion that is so common today, in most grammar books.
Once again, many thanks for your interest in our books, A.
All the best to you,
COROLLARY THEOREMS / COMPLEMENT CONTROL
We need to clarify things a little bit more.
All 4 books presented as "the competitors"
of LSEG4 belong to the "descriptive" grammatical current, as previously
mentioned. However, an amazing English characteristic of this descriptive grammatical current—somehow,
specific to the English World—is the fact that all descriptive grammar books make extraordinary juggleries in
attempting to resolve grammatical analysis via Morphology only [in other words, based on "form
analysis"]. They simply try to avoid using the functional Sentence Syntax and Complex Sentence Syntax as much as possible!
However, it is impossible to perform a correct grammatical analysis using only Morphology [aka "the form of
the words"], due to the exceptional grammatical phenomenon named "(morphological)
conversion". In fact, this phenomenon is exactly the one to blame for the apparition, and later for the
development, of the senseless "descriptive grammars". Some grammarians tried (and they still try that
very hard) to avoid using Sentence Syntax and Complex Sentence Syntax [in other words, the analysis based
on grammatical functionality]. All their relentless (English) efforts are channeled towards discovering
a grammatical system/instrument that would work only morphologically, based on analyzing the form.
Again, that is not possible. Grammar is (only)
by itself cannot be explained correctly without Sentence Syntax. As a corollary,
Sentence Syntax represents (the universal)
grammatical functionality. In the other side, any Grammar that is not based on
the universally functional Sentence Syntax is not a Grammar; it just cannot be. Regardless, most English linguists still
try to discover a descriptive grammar that may work, somehow. This is the reason they use all sort of
pseudo-grammatical tricks, as is word-statistics, mathematical-algorithms, absurdly built phrase structures,
and alike: they strive to avoid using the simple universal grammatical functionality—which is Sentence Syntax and
Complex Sentence Syntax—by any means possible.
In order to function correctly and beneficially in our society,
it must be a single, simple, logic grammar for all
languages on our Planet. Therefore, when one specific English grammar appears to be not universal, not
simple enough, and not sufficiently logic, THAT is not grammar, dear people—it should be poetry/fantasy about grammar, or
We use grammar to help us concretely in society [to understand and control juridical/contractual text; to help us
our frightening and overwhelming social-reality; and to exchange
new, advanced, complex ideas/concepts], not to perform some extravagant "descriptive" grammatical juggleries. We cannot afford to waste years
of our precious life "to understand descriptive grammar". No, Sir,
grammar needs to be really simple, perfectly logic, valid for ANY LANGUAGE,
and it has to work for us today, now!
In the other side, descriptive grammar interpretations have been specifically designed for "inner use" only, among
professionals, so that they may write advanced/complex doctorate thesis about such grammars. Note that the entire set of descriptive
grammars (this is all descriptive grammar books ever written to date) forms an "open system" of "infinite possibilities"
which is meant only to theorize about grammar, not to solve/explain anything. Even more, it is a well known fact that
no descriptive grammar works/functions logically, but this is exactly what the linguists are really after. The idea is,
linguists have an insurmountable challenge ahead, therefore they can strive on solving it for very, very many decades/centuries from now
on into the future . . .
In the other side, the classic traditional English grammar is an already solved system, a functionally working one, hence there is nothing
spectacular waiting to be invented/discovered in there—apparently, in a very superficial analysis. Anybody can work with this classic grammar, including highschool students,
so . . .
Yeah but, you see, there are a few prominent linguists desperate to promote exactly those inventions/interpretations that have little
or no bearings on the socially-beneficial grammar—the classic and universal one. Even worse, the stinging pain that hurts the most is the fact
that a lot of ordinary people/teachers support those inventions, despite the fact they do not understand the absurdity of such theoretical,
open-system interpretations "of infinite possibilities"—again, perfectly useless, non-functional, and way too complicated.
It looks like the old reliable KISS
formula is not working anymore throughout the English World lately; therefore, we should better try to adapt to this situation by .
. . "describing" it . . . somehow!