Over the past few years I’ve been piddling about working on an English Language grammar that covers the language in a comprehensive way that is also useful as a single go-to reference for teaching. I have a few goals with this project:
- Create modular sections and chapters that make sense out of context
- Create a large quantity of exercises for practicing each grammar pattern.
- Provide glossary-like vocabulary lists along with each section and chapter.
- Avoid conflating stylistic preference with correctness.
- Avoid conflating written style with spoken style.
- Provide as neutral a perspective as possible with regards to dialects, and include mentions of differences in the core grammar such as pronouns, verb agreement, etc.
- Release the project with an open license, so that it can be distributed, drawn from, and improved upon by readers.
You might think that Wikipedia provides most of these things already. Wikipedia is awesome, I frequently refer to it and check myself when I need to be certain my instincts are right. It’s linguistic articles are constantly improving and cover an immense topic in surprisingly comprehensive detail. What they don’t do is provide a guide for teachers or learners of a language to teach or learn. Supposedly Wikibooks is designed for that, but I’ve found the few books on English language learning to be underwhelming in quality and utility.
Where I am with the project
I’m currently approaching completion of the rough draft of the first volume, which has 11 chapters: sentence order I, nouns, pronouns, determiners, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, sentence order II, negative constructions, interrogative constructions.
Some chapters are more complete than others, and the entire project may need to be re-organized before I’m done. It certainly needs editing. I’m hoping to pick up the pace as I teach more English privately and have a need to create my own exercises and explanations.
Sample of the Text
Plural – Vowel Change
Some exceptional nouns change internal vowel sounds instead of adding an “s”.
- man, men
- woman, women *
- foot, feet
- tooth, teeth
- goose, geese
- mouse, mice
* Perhaps one of the more confusing words in the English orthography. The internal vowel change in the pronunciation is not reflected in the internal vowel change in the orthography.
Plural – Different Form
Some exceptional nouns change drastically from singular to plural.
- person, people
Plural – No Change
Some exceptional nouns don’t change at all.
- fish, fish
- deer, deer
- sheep, sheep