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One Day in the Life of the English Language


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Table of Contents

Preface xi Navigation Tips xix Introduction The Starting Idea: You and Your Audience 1 Preview of the Following Pages 7 December 29, 2008, as History 10 Two Disclaimers 20 On Using Sentences from the Real World 23 Formal Usage-Its Rules and Value 31 "If you don't have grammar, you don't have sense" 40 1Actants, Actions, Ongoing States: Nouns, Verbs, and the Sentences They Form Why Learn the Parts of Speech? 45 Fundamentals 49 Fine Tuning 56 Deep Focus 71 2Words That Modify and Orient: Adjectives, Adverbs, Conjunctions, Prepositions, Articles, Interjections The Power of Small Words Well Deployed 88 Adjectives 89 Adverbs 99 Conjunctions 114 Prepositions 123 Articles 128 Interjections 133 3Who Is He/She? Pronouns A Whole Chapter on Pronouns? 134 Fundamentals 135 Fine Tuning 150 Deep Focus 160 4Punctuation, Part I-The Comma: Promiscuous Uses Introduction: Punctuation Substitutes for Oral Emphases, Facial Expressions, and Body Language 167 Fundamentals 169 Fine Tuning 193 Deep Focus 200 5Punctuation, Part II-The Colon, Semicolon, and More Mysteries of Punctuation The Colon and Semicolon 207 The Apostrophe 217 The Dash 228 The Quotation Mark 232 End Punctuation and Combining Sentences 241 6Diction: Sentences as Clockwork On the Interconnectedness of Words 254 Fundamentals 258 A Microconclusion 286 Appendix I: Fifteen Myths of Digital-Age English 293 Appendix II: Using This Book to Teach College Writing: A Microguide 301 Fifty Key Terms: A Microglossary 317 Works Cited General Sources 329 December 29, 2008, Examples 335 Index 351

About the Author

Frank L. Cioffi is professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York, and has taught writing at Princeton and Indiana universities and at Bard and Scripps colleges. He is the author of The Imaginative Argument: A Practical Manifesto for Writers (Princeton), among other books.


One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2016 "This little volume has several things going for it: it's compact, bound in the style of an industrial manual, so it can take a lot of punishment."--Mary Norris, Times Literary Supplement "Cioffi effectively employs a fast-paced narrative style that readers will find entertaining and insightful."--Teaching Matters Monthly "The work is accessible, fun to read, and packed with helpful information on almost every page. It will appeal to a wide audience--not only those who love grammar but also those who do not."--Library Journal "For readers at any level who are seeking to improve their written English, One Day in the Life of the English Language helps to make grammar relatable and rewarding... A creative alternative for students of all ages."--Sarah Powell, Reference Reviews "Cioffi has created a different kind of grammar handbook, one that not only lays out the 'rules' of Standard English but also makes readers more sensitive to language and so better able to communicate ideas... He used the material in this book in a freshman composition course, to good effect, and readers will find that this clever book sharpens their awareness."--Choice

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