Grammar for Teachers: A Guide to American English for Native and Non-Native Speakers

Andrea DeCapua. New York, N.Y.: Springer, 2008. Pp. xviii + 444.

Reviewed by Ozgur Yildirim
Anadolu University
Eskisehir, Turkey

DeCapua s Grammar for Teachers: A Guide to American English for Native and Non-Native Speakers is a comprehensive grammar book intended for active and prospective teachers of American English grammar. The book is also of interest to users whose exposure to English grammar has been primarily limited to prescriptive rules of spoken and written English with no focus on the concerns and problems of ESL/EFL learners in learning and using English. That is, one of the main aims of DeCapua s text is to encourage users to develop an understanding of the use and function of the grammar of American English in order to better appreciate the difficulties faced by ESL/EFL learners.
This informative text begins with an introduction that defines grammar, discusses the notion of grammar from the linguist s point of view, and points out the differences between prescriptive and descriptive grammars. This is followed by eleven chapters, each of which are devoted to a dimension of grammar specific to their titles: (2) Morphology, (3) The Noun Phrase, (4) Adjectives and Adverbs, (5) Introduction to Verbs and Verb Phrases, (6) Time, Tense, and Aspect of Verbs, (7) Modal Auxiliary Verbs and Related Structures, (8) Basic Sentence Patterns and Major Variations, (9) Compound Sentences and Introduction to Complex Sentences: Adverbial Clauses, (10) Complex Sentences Continued Relative Clauses, (11) Complex Sentences Continued: Noun Clauses, and (12) Verbal Constructions.

Each chapter is similarly organized. A dimension of American English grammar is presented in context using authentic sources such as magazines, newspapers, children s books, works of literature, and academic prose. Within each grammar dimension, different subjects are presented with the help of discovery activities which encourage the user to explore different elements of grammar and how those elements form meaningful grammatical units. Also, at the end of each chapter there are practice activities which present samples of relevant learner errors and error analysis exercises.

Working through each well-organized chapter, readers will indeed be pleased by DeCapua s jargon-free descriptive coverage of essential American English grammar structures as well as his authentic examples and carefully prepared discovery and practice activities, all of which come together in a reader friendly text that is not only rich in content but also successful in design. They may, however, expect more of an appendix than is offered–a simple coverage of only some basic points such as irregular English verbs and essential spelling rules. Irrespective of this possible shortcoming, Grammar for Teachers: A Guide to American English for Native and Non-Native Speakers is sure to be a valuable and significant addition to the field of teaching and learning English as a second or foreign language.