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What is general grammar?

‘General grammar’ is the term sometimes used to describe the spoken and written grammar students learn and practise on ‘general English’ courses around the world, where the aim is simply to become a good user of English, and perhaps to pass school tests or public exams such as TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge First Certificate.


General grammar: how I got involved

The Grammar Spectrum series

In 1993, after I had sent some grammar worksheets to ELT publishers on a speculative basis, Oxford University Press (OUP) commissioned me to write an elementary grammar practice book, which was published in 1995 as Grammar Spectrum 1, alongside the higher level Grammar Spectrums 2 and 3 by Mark Harrison and Norman Coe respectively.

The series was successful from the outset - Grammar Spectrum 1 alone eventually sold 325,000 copies - and over the next 12 years, the three levels were combined, adapted and rewritten by the same authors to produce the popular Oxford Grammar Practice Basic, versions of which have been published in Czech, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, and Turkish; and, in 2016, as an app, Learn and Practise.

The Oxford Living Grammar series

In 2006, following the success of the Spectrum series, OUP commissioned the same three authors to write a completely new series of grammar practice books, under the umbrella title ‘Oxford Living Grammar’. A key difference from the Spectrum series is the ‘Grammar in action’ section, which shows how the grammar is used in typical everyday situations, linked to contextualized exercises - often natural conversations - under the same headings. Click here for more information, and access to the Oxford Living Grammar Student’s Site and Teacher’s Site.

My two titles, Oxford Living Grammar elementary and Oxford Living Grammar upper-intermediate (suitable for Cambridge First Certificate) were published in 2009 and 2012 respectively.


Publications in general grammar

Learn and Practise (OUP, 2016)

Oxford Living Grammar Upper Intermediate (OUP, 2012)

Oxford Living Grammar Elementary (OUP, 2009)

Oxford Practice Grammar Basic (OUP, 2006) Czech version, German version, Hungarian version, Italian version, Portuguese version, Turkish version

Grammar Spectrum 1 (OUP, 1995) French Canadian version

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An Oxford University Press series, where grammar writers answer popular questions.

On punctuation, please click here.

On passives (and a few other grammar issues), please click here.