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This review is of the paperback book "The Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation" by John Seely. Indeed, I'm a little nervous of reviewing the book and then making some of the grammar and punctuation mistakes which are referred to in the book! Apologies in advance for any such errors!
The book is laid out in the form of a dictionary, as the title suggests, with explanations for all the various different writing terms, and examples of how they should and shouldn't be used. There are around 300 different "headwords" or subject types, and I soon found that the book became indispensable when faced with a query over word usage for example.
Before the main part of the book, there is an introduction which gives a brief guide to how the book works, and also how the English language works. It talks about how subjects, verbs, objects and so on, are used within sentences, and how they are formed. I would imagine that this would be very useful for someone learning English, given the unique way our sentences are sometimes formed.
Occasionally I found the definitions to be a little too detailed and confusing, with all the technical terms used, such as a predicative adjective. However, it's essential that these terms are included, but I did find sometimes a little more explanation would be helpful in clearer terms. Overall however, I didn't find this too much of a problem, and it was always good to have a basic over-view of a query I might have.
The book is quite small and light-weight, which does mean that it's easy to transport around with you, which might be useful if you're away and writing a formal report for example. The downside of this is that maybe the book could have been a little longer, with clearer definitions, if more space had been available.
In terms of who the book is aimed for, I'd have said that older children only would find it very accessible, but it's ideal for A-Level students, university students, or those writing reports for business or learning English as a second or additional language. Certainly a wide scope, and detailed enough to be useful for professional writers.
This is the second edition of the book, published by Oxford University Press in 2009. The ISBN of the book is 978-0199564675 and the book is just under 200 pages long. It retails for 5.99 pounds, but at the time of writing, Amazon are charging 3.41 pounds for the book including postage, which is a really good price. Second hand copies are available on sites such as eBay and Amazon, but by the time postage is added, they're normally about the same price as on Amazon's site.
Overall, I found this a useful book, especially given the low price-point on Amazon, which makes it really accessible. You might not use the book a great deal, but it's a handy resource to have available, especially if you do lots of writing, or need your writing to be of a high quality for formal submission for example. Sometimes maybe a little over-complex perhaps, but still recommended.