The Life of Slang

where slang comes from, and what it’s used for The Life of Slang is a study of linguistic creation. We know that when a slang word is introduced into the language, it can become Standard English if it is adopted by enough people and put into general use. And of course the reverse can happen […]

The Fight for English

how language pundits ate, shot, and left David Crystal is a prolific writer on the subject of English language and the way it is used. His output ranges from scholarly works of reference such as The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, to popular studies of modern usage such as his recent Words, Words, Words which tries […]

Teacher’s Guide to Grammar

teaching language and the national curriculum The other day I overheard a young girl of around eight ask her mother “What’s a phoneme?” Not surprisingly, her mother didn’t even understand the question. And the girl added, “I think it’s part of a word” – which was not a bad shot. This made me realise just […]

Spelling Guide

beginner’s simple guide to spelling and language Spelling worries many people. Understandably so, because mistakes in spelling are often regarded as a black mark in terms of literacy and written competence. Oxford University Press have just brought out a series of short beginners’ guides on communication skills. The emphasis is on compact, no-nonsense advice directly […]


beginner’s guide to the basic principles of punctuation Oxford University Press have just brought out a series of short beginners’ manuals on communication skills. Their emphasis is on compact, no-nonsense advice directly related to issues of everyday life. Punctuation in English can be almost as tricky as spelling. Robert Allen cleverly approaches the topic by […]

Oxford Reference Grammar

up-to-date guide to modern English grammar This Oxford Reference Grammar guide is based on the most important chapters in Stanley Greenbaum’s authoritative work, The Oxford English Grammar. It is arranged thematically, starting from a description of the history of English language and grammar, then taking the major topics in turn – from words, phrases, and […]

Oxford Modern English Grammar

an anatomy of contemporary English language usage Oxford Modern English Grammar is the Oxford University Press brand new and definitive guide to English grammar. It’s a book written by a leading expert in the field that covers both British and American English. and it makes use of authentic spoken and written examples. Arranged in four […]

Oxford Guide to Plain English

how to simplify and clarify your writing This is a new series from OUP – pocketbook guides on the basics of writing and language skills. They’re small, cheap, cheerful, and compact, yet authoritative – the sort of thing which I imagine would be ideal for students or the average person-in-the-street who wants to take on […]

A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation

pocket guide to the basics of English language Most people are a bit frightened of grammar and punctuation – with some reason, because both can be very complex issues. Fortunately, anybody who can speak their own language is already in possession of all the tools they need for using it correctly. This isn’t to say […]

Grammar for Teachers

essential guide to how English language works The UK government’s latest policy on English teaching insists that it should be presented ‘across the curriculum’. What this means is that teachers of subjects other than English have to focus the language of their practice as part of normal classroom teaching and learning. This can leave teachers […]