Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Book Review: "Advanced Grammar in Use" by Martin Hewings (Cambridge)






Advanced Grammar in Use
Third Edition
Cambridge University Press 2013
ISBN 9781107699892
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Sample blurb: "Advanced Grammar in Use Third Edition meets the advanced-level learner's needs with comprehensive grammar coverage and a user-friendly layout."
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A long, long time ago, I can still remember... when I interviewed the likeable Martin Hewings back in my superstar ELT interviewing days. Sigh.

The first edition of Advanced Grammar in Use had just come out and I remember a very pleasant and interesting conversation although don't ask me what we talked about. This, that and the other, no doubt.

Now the third edition is here and I don't intend writing as comprehensive a review as I did back then. Simply a nod to let you know the book exists and that it's somewhat of a bible for the ultra-keeno advanced learner to get their grammatical teeth into.

100 meaty units take you from the basics like the differences between the past simple and the present perfect, through in-depth analysis of stuff like few, little, less, fewer, and rapidly into deeper, darker territory such as gradable and non-gradable adjectives, and two- and three-word verbs: word order.

The units are split into the following sections:

 - Tenses
 - The future
 - Modals and semi-modals
 - Linking verbs, passives, questions
 - Verb complementation: what follows verbs
 - Reporting
 - Nouns
 - Articles, determiners and quantifiers
 - Relative clauses and other types of clause
 - Pronouns, substitution and leaving words out
 - Adjectives and adverbs
 - Adverbial clauses and conjunctions
 - Prepositions
 - Organising information

As you can imagine we're not talking red Murphy (the elementary member of the series) here. This is serious stuff and many a lay English teacher would break into a cold sweat if asked to explain some of these concepts off the bat, I suspect...

The blurb reminds us that this third edition is now 'in full colour', which in reality means a coloured picture, photo or diagram every two units or so. I'm a big fan of images and colour as a bona fide aid to learning so that's pleasing to see, even if each image necessarily tends to illustrate a single sentence from any given unit.

Once the 100 units are done the book is far from over. The 'study planner' is effectively a 12-page test allowing learners to see which areas they need to brush up on most. Answers are provided.

There's a glossary and also an 18-page 'grammar reminder' reference section if you want your rules and regulations in a more condensed format, with a lot of cross-referencing to keep you busy.

Then there are 11 pages of additional exercises as well as the CD-ROM but we'll get to that in a moment. Cambridge tell us that the book is ideal preparation for IELTS, as well as the Advanced and Proficiency general English examinations.

The CD-ROM took a little while but installed itself on my computer without any hiccups and opened to a straightforward, crisp and clean welcome screen.



Included are 200 practice exercises, organised into the same units as the book, and customised tests allowing learners to target specific language areas. There are also audio recordings of all the main exercises, something which adds considerably to the richness of the package.

As well as attractive screens, they've slotted in a little pic for each exercise and the whole thing is a fairly pleasant experience.

So to sum up, this is a great package, perhaps the package for the serious student of English grammar at the higher levels, and particularly those studying for exams where such esoteric knowledge is liable to be tested. It's certainly the most comprehensive volume of this sort and level I've seen so far.

Well done to Cambridge for continuing to update what was already a leading volume and making it more and more user-friendly, as they say. Power to your grammar!

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Sab Will is, or has been, a freelance teacher, teacher trainer, director of studies, ELT writer, fanatical blogger, Facebook freak and website weirdo. He is also a well-known street photographer, abstract artist, poet and Paris city chronicler. The 'well-known' bit only applies to those who know him well, however.
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Hotch Potch English: 'The ELT Resources Review Blog' ~ Book Review: "Advanced Grammar in Use" (Cambridge University Press)
© 2013 Sab Will / Hotch Potch English
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