Book Review: Grammar Smart


We’ve been reviewing several titles lately from The Princeton Review, a company which offers college bound high school students admission testing resources as well as equipping graduate school destined students much in the same way. What many students may not be aware of is that the company also produces some thirty-two study aids and smart guides to help them as they’re making their way through college.

Grammar SmartRecently, I begged a copy of “Grammar Smart” from Jeanne Krier who is a publicist for The Princeton Review, and have been thumbing through it over the past week or more. Yes, even a professional writer such as myself can use some help from time to time. Besides, Grammar Smart is a much lighter and a less intimidating read than the esteemed “The Chicago Manual of Style” and is a timely companion for you as you – gulp – work on your term paper this semester.

Grammar Haters Unite!

From the onset, the staff of The Princeton Review (the authors of this book) set the tone by acknowledging that most of us hate grammar. No, we don’t detest sentence structures which encourage us to speak with clarity and authority nor do we even hate most of the rules that go with it. Perhaps most problematic with grammar is that many rules seem vague or are subject to change, which sometimes can be at odds with what your professor believes.

That sort of disagreement can have long range ramifications including an unwelcome ding against your final grade!

A book such as Grammar Smart works well as a source of reference for students, much in the same way you would use a dictionary and thesaurus. Though you probably would use online versions of the first two resources in order to determine proper spelling and word usage, finding a comprehensive grammar guide online isn’t as easy. And, those poorly designed “grammar check” tools just don’t get it – you may get the right answer, but their explanations are often unclear.

Quizzes, Most Useful

Useful with Grammar Smart are the “Quick Quizzes” which are found throughout the book. Based on what you just read for the previous page or two, the quizzes are designed to confirm whether you comprehended certain grammar rules or not. Thankfully, these quizzes come frequently because if you had to read the entire chapter first, you’d forget a good portion of what was shared.

Grammar Smart is divided into nine parts and starts with “The Name of Things” to identify the pronouns, verbs, adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions and more which comprise a sentence. From there, the book addresses complete sentences followed by putting it all together and then punctuation. Parts five through nine include questions and answers, glossary and other supporting material and exercises to help you master your grammar skills.

Get Smart!

The Princeton Review has a series of “smart” books available including Math Smart, Work Smart and Job Smart. Judging by how well Grammar Smart was put together, the other books are worth a look too.

Now go ahead and work on your term paper outline ASAP. Greek life can wait and the football team is on the road this weekend anyway!

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Categories: Book Reviews