Grammar Choices: What’s new in the second edition?

Grammar Choices (2nd edition coming January '19) | More information
Second Edition

The second edition of Grammar Choices has been published by the University of Michigan Press (available only directly from the press right now, and soon from Amazon). This is an exciting moment because it means enough people bought and liked the first edition to warrant a new one!

Why did we produce a second edition? The first edition of Grammar Choices was published in 2012, so it’s had a healthy life-span of 6 years, but of course academic English hasn’t changed much in that time! With any second edition, you have to strike a balance between adding and changing enough to justify a new edition, while not alienating users who liked the first edition. There’s always going to be a reading, exercise, or example that you’re angry at me for dropping (sorry).

My philosophy with this revision was to:

  • Provide more practice exercises, especially at the sentence level, including more examples of common troublespots for learners of English;
  • Improve the example sentences so they more clearly demonstrate the target grammar (some were just unnecessarily wordy in the first edition or feel outdated now, a decade after I chose them!);
  • Make explanations more precise;
  • Add bits that were missing from the first edition (parallel structure, possessives) and flesh out sections that received insufficient attention (e.g., passive voice);
  • Build in more vocabulary focus to emphasize the importance of lexicogrammar;
  • Broaden the disciplinary scope: at the suggestion of users, I’ve added more examples from the social sciences, using sociology as an area of common ground; there are also more examples from science and engineering;
  • De-Americanize the examples and exercises — honestly, I didn’t expect the book to be used outside North America, so some of the sentences and passages in the first edition were rather US-centric. However, Grammar Choices has a loyal international following, especially in the UK, so I’ve toned down the US cultural references and added a few more notes on differences between US and UK academic English );
  • Improve the Writing in Your Discipline sections by adding checklists: I’ve found that my students respond really well to this kind of self-regulation aimed at improving their autonomy as confident writers and editors.

A number of teachers had contacted us to ask for exercises they can use in speaking classes. The book does have writers in the title, so I didn’t want to go too far into the different grammar structures typical of spoken academic English, but I have suggested speaking activities in the Commentary (the answer key that accompanies the book, available from the publisher). Let me know if you find these useful. Here’s an example:

Grammar Choices 2nd Edition Unit 1 Exercise 6 (Commentary). (c) University of Michigan Press, 2019

I’ve also made some relatively minor updates:

  • The instructions for using the corpus websites in Unit 7 now work with the new interfaces of COCA and Word and Phrase, and I added an exercise using the wonderful Manchester Academic Phrasebank.
  • I reorganized Unit 2 — whenever I teach from the first edition, I find I want the section on punctuation nearer the start, but of course, you can still teach the sections in any order that works for you.
  • I took out the table of clause structures in Unit 1 (even I couldn’t really understand and teach it) and replaced it with more explanation of verb complementation.
  • I also swapped out some of the opening Grammar Analysis texts for newer and more relevant ones.
  • We decided to move the cross-references to Academic Writing for Graduate Students to the Commentary. They take up a lot of space on the page and are mostly useful for teachers not students.
  • And, yes, there were still some typos in the book and answer key in the first edition! (Shout out to the amazing team at the University of Michigan Press who caught all sorts of strange errors in my drafts; any remaining errors are entirely my own.)
  • The book also has a new font and cover, all the work of UMP, of course. Despite the additions (30 new or updated exercises, dozens of examples, and two grammar points), thanks to some clever pagination, the second edition is only a few pages longer than the first, and I think it looks great!

So that’s it. The second edition is now out in the world. I hope you’ll take a(nother) look and that you’ll find it useful in your teaching or studies. Thanks for choosing Grammar Choices. You can contact me with questions or suggestions on this site or via the publisher.

Author: Nigel Caplan

Nigel Caplan, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the University of Delaware English Language Institution, as well as a textbook author, consultant, and speaker. Nigel holds a PhD from the University of Delaware, a master's in TESOL from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor's degree from Cambridge University. He is currently director of Project DELITE, a federal grant providing ESL certification to Delaware teachers. He also brews beer.

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