English Grammar in Use, book cover

Self-study Reference and Practice Book for Students; a Book Review

English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy may be the definitive textbook for intermediate students of English and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

English Grammar in Use is used by many colleges teaching English as a foreign language and is also the principal textbook for many of those studying to gain TEFL teaching certificates across the world. It is designed as a reference book for intermediate students with knowledge of basic grammar. It is not a structured course in English grammar.

Structured for Independent Study and Reference

English Grammar in Use is structured into 16 sections each covering a grammar category:

  • Present and past
  • Present perfect and past
  • Future
  • Modals – can, could, may etc
  • If and wish
  • Passive
  • Reported speech
  • Questions and auxiliary verbs
  • -ing and the infinitive
  • Articles and Nouns
  • Pronouns and determiners
  • Relative clauses
  • Adjectives and adverbs
  • Conjunctions and prepositions
  • Prepositions
  • Phrasal verbs – look out, run away etc

Across these categories are 145 units each unit covering a particular aspect. They are not arranged in order of difficulty so do not lend themselves to studying in sequence – they are intended to answer a student’s questions where they are uncertain having difficulties.

Each unit occupies a double-page spread. On the left page the grammar topic is introduced and explained in detail. On the facing page are exercises to test the understanding and answers are provided at the back of the book. Some of the exercises are purely text based others are based on interpreting what is happening in a picture.

This structure works well but it does make the book look rather dense and possibly daunting. This is a misleading impression as it is a reference book to be dipped into as needed; it is not a course of study.

Additional Exercises and CD Study Software

At the end of the book there are additional exercises which bring grammatical points together from across multiple units. The CD provides further exercises for those who are comfortable working on screen. The exercises are structured into the same grammar categories as in the main book. The provided software is friendly and has its own mini-manual.

nswering the questions is straightforward either multiple choice or simply typing it in. Feed back is provided for errors and a log of exercises completed and performance is maintained so a limited amount of data is stored on the computer but the software does ask first and suggests it is will be no more than a trivial one megabyte.

There are appendices providing more information on some key topics as well as spelling and American English, the book is published in the UK and is therefore based on British English.

Self-directed Study or Reference for Teacher Led Courses

English Grammar in Use therefore supports self directed study or teachers can use it as a reference to support courses based on their own syllabus. There is a Study Guide and comprehensive index to help readers studying alone to find the units appropriate to their needs.

English Grammar in Use with Answers and CD-ROM (2004, ISBN: 978-0-521-53762-9) by Raymond Murphy is published as a large format paper back by Cambridge University Press at £23.95 ($36) for the comprehensive edition with practice exercises on CD-ROM. Cambridge also publishes a companion book: English Grammar in Use Supplementary Exercises with answers to support further study.


First appeared on Suite101

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