Generations of student writers have been subjected to usage handbooks that proclaim, "This is the correct form. Learn it"—books that lay out a grammar, but don't inspire students to use it. By contrast, this antihandbook handbook, presenting some three hundred sentences drawn from the printed works of a single, typical day in the life of the language—December 29, 2008—tries to persuade readers that good grammar and usage matter.
Using real-world sentences rather than invented ones, One Day in the Life of the English Language gives students the motivation to apply grammatical principles correctly and efficiently. Frank Cioffi argues that proper form undergirds effective communication and ultimately even makes society work more smoothly, while nonstandard English often marginalizes or stigmatizes a writer. He emphasizes the evolving nature of English usage and debunks some cherished but flawed grammar precepts. Is it acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition? It is. Can you start a sentence with a conjunction? You can. OK to split an infinitive? No problem.
A grammar and usage handbook like no other, One Day in the Life of the English Language features accessible chapters divided into "Fundamentals," "Fine Tuning," and "Deep Focus," allowing readers to select a level most suited to their needs. It also includes a glossary, a teachers' guide, and a section refuting some myths about digital-age English.
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.
"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
"One Day in the Life of the English Language is a welcome departure from the vast majority of grammar handbooks. Cioffi suggests that instead of memorizing tons of rules about sentence structure, students should internalize how sentences work--and with the motivation he gives, students have the incentive to want to write well. I truly love this book."--Elizabethada A. Wright, University of Minnesota
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Frank L. Cioffi: