English Grammar Boot Camp

Course No. 2222
Professor Anne Curzan, Ph.D.
University of Michigan
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4.4 out of 5
119 Reviews
83% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 2222
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What Will You Learn?

  • Trace the history of specific grammatical rules and of academic usage guides.
  • Delve into irregular plurals in English, observing the variety of ways they are formed.
  • Explore how verbs work with or without objects and learn about complex transitive verbs.
  • Examine how we use apostrophes with contractions and possessives, noting the problems involved with nouns ending in s"."

Course Overview

Attention: There are no less than five intentional grammatical “errors“ in this course description. If you can’t identify at least five, we recommend that you get this course!

Grammar! For many of us, the word triggers memories of finger-wagging schoolteachers, and of wrestling with the ambiguous and complicated rules of using formal language. But what is grammar, really? In fact, it’s the integral basis of how we speak and write.

As such, a refined awareness of grammar opens a world of possibilities for both your pleasure in the English language and your skill in using it, in both speech and the written word. As a foundation for writing, a detailed grounding in grammar and usage will hugely expand your resources for meaningful verbal expression, for navigating the subtleties of the language, and for achieving clarity of communication and stylistic power.

In English Grammar Boot Camp, linguist and popular Great Courses professor Anne Curzan of the University of Michigan takes you on an enjoyable exploration of the essential aspects of English grammar. These 24 spirited and accessible lectures offer you a comprehensive core training—a linguistic “boot camp,” by which we mean a thorough immersion in all of the key elements of English grammar and usage, in their most immediate, practical application.

Speaking with incisive insight, a Socratic teaching style, and refreshing humor, Professor Curzan leads you sequentially through the workings of the many parts of speech, from nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs to the fine points of determiners, intensifiers, prepositions, coordinating and subordinating conjunctions, conjunctive adverbs, dangling modifiers, and more. In the final part of the course, you’ll combine all of these elements to take a penetrating look at matters of style and clarity, in settings ranging from daily speech to formal, academic, and scientific writing.

Delve Deeply into the Inner Workings of English

Regarding grammar and style, anyone can read a usage guide. But English Grammar Boot Camp provides something significantly more: a breadth of perspective and context you won’t find elsewhere, leaving you with a more choices and rich verbal resources for your own use of the language.

In discussing the different parts of speech, Professor Curzan directs your attention to how the element at hand evolved, often going as far back as the Renaissance or Old English. Highlighting reflections from 18th- and 19th-century usage guides as well as from multiple modern commentators, she guides you in examining real-world language use in a variety of contexts, helping you develop a sophisticated frame of reference and a deep awareness of the idiosyncrasies of English.

As an emblematic aspect of the course, Professor Curzan repeatedly demonstrates the value of being open-minded about the strong points and weaknesses of grammatical rules. She shows convincingly that we benefit greatly when we learn the history of prescriptive rules and compare the rules to the way speakers and writers use the language. This allows us to make informed decisions about when we want to adhere to the theoretically or formally “correct” and when we don’t. In this arena, you’ll uncover examples of “questionable” usage for rhetorical purposes by a range of brilliant writers, discovering that history’s grammatical scofflaws include the likes of William Shakespeare, whom used many double comparisons, and the framers of the U.S. Constitution, who spoke of a “more perfect” Union.

You’ll also take account of the tendency of the English-speaking populace to regularize the language over time, replacing a wonderful past participle such as “mown” with “mowed” and opting for plural “emojis” rather than “emoji.” Throughout the course. You’ll devote attention to the significant differences between spoken and written English.

The lectures of English Grammar Boot Camp serve up a banquet of grammatical insights, all of which will richly inform and deepen your skill with the language.

Study the Fine Points of Grammatical Usage

In the course of the lectures, you’ll investigate the building blocks of English grammar in detail, shedding light on numerous practical matters of usage, such as:

  • Common conundrums of grammar: Refine your understanding of numerous confusing issues of grammar, such as when to use “who”vs.”whom” or “that”vs.”which”;the question of subject-verb agreement (“A jury of my peers is/are…”); the challenges of conjoined pronoun constructions (“My sister and I/me…”); and whether it’s acceptable to begin sentences with conjunctions or end them with prepositions.
  • The anatomy of verbs: In mastering verb usage, gain clarity on verb tense (present, past, future) and aspect (progressive, present perfect, past perfect); how verbs function intransitively (“I read every day”) and transitively (“I read the newspaper”), and the functions of primary auxiliaryverbs(be/have/do) and modal auxiliary verbs(might/could/should).
  • The uses of the passive voice: Discover how the passive voice(as in, “Mistakes were made”), which we’re often counseled to avoid, has remarkable benefits in formal writing, such as for maintaining narrative continuity, for promoting a sense of objectivity in scientific writing, and for handling situations where the responsibility for an action is unclear.
  • Principles of punctuation: Clarify the meaning and usage of each of the punctuation marks and see how they organize information and shape meaning. In particular, investigate the punctuation marks that people are most confused about, such as the comma, semicolon, and dash, and the particular complexities of the apostrophe.
  • The grammar of conversation: In studying the important differences between spoken and written English, take account of grammatical practices that are acceptable in speech but less so in writing, such as dangling modifiers, the use of discourse markers (such as “so,” “well,” and “oh”), and stranded prepositions.
  • Grammar’s larger context: Look closely at how to present information with fluency and style in your writing, and grasp principles of clarity in scientific writing. Experiment with the known-new contract, a principle that helps readers follow your ideas by presenting known information before new information, within sentences and sequentially.

A Glorious Panorama of the English Language

Finally, Professor Curzans’ contagious passion for the subject matter and encyclopedic knowledge of the language make English Grammar Boot Camp an especially enthralling and enjoyable exploration. Throughout, Professor Curzan frames the course’s inquiry into grammar as a thoroughly remarkable tour of the language, offering countless illuminating observations on how English grammar and usage developed, and on the matter of how writers and grammarians down through the centuries have viewed the language and its communicative resources.

Ranging widely across the historical spectrum, Professor Curzan treats you to fascinating reflections on the history of grammatical practice (the verb “to go” has a mystifyingly irregular past tense, “went,” which was lifted from the verb “to wend”) and to a keen view of how the language changes over time, including in our own fast-moving era. For example, the modal verbs “must” and “shall” are now in serious decline, and we often “verb” nouns (“to google”) and “noun” verbs (“a hire”). To give perspective on conscious grammatical choice, she cites memorable examples of inadvertently amusing English usage (“Property owners and occupants of dwellings suffering damage from squirrel, raccoon, red fox and coyote, or their agents designated in writing…”).

The delightful and superbly insightful lectures of English Grammar Boot Camp offer you a unique opportunity to explore the linguistic riches of the English language, and to significantly deepen your mastery of grammar, usage, and style. This mastery will enable you to use English more competently and confidently in every context.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Why Do We Care about Grammar?
    First, examine how we judge what is acceptable or unacceptable in English, and how we distinguish acceptable" from "stylistically preferable." Consider how grammar often takes on larger meanings related to education and culture. Grasp how understanding the differences and diversity within our language allows us to become more nuanced speakers and writers." x
  • 2
    Prescriptivism: Grammar Shoulds and Shouldn'ts
    Here, investigate prescriptive grammar: the set of rules that tell us what we should and shouldn't do in formal English. Trace the history of specific grammatical rules and of academic usage guides, and note how such guides justify right" vs. "wrong." Learn about historically famous grammarians, whose opinions about usage still influence us today." x
  • 3
    Descriptivism: How Grammar Really Works
    Now dive into descriptive grammar: the rules that describe actual usage. In examples ranging from contractions to word order and negation, observe the wealth of grammatical knowledge that you know intuitively. Consider how comparing the descriptive with the prescriptive can help you make more informed choices about usage. x
  • 4
    Re Phrasing
    This lecture looks at how we define and categorize words into parts of speech, and considers the fascinating ways in which words expand or move into new categories. Study how we characterize nouns, verbs, adverbs, and their syntax, and delineate the difference between a phrase, a clause, and a sentence. x
  • 5
    Fewer Octopuses or Less Octopi?
    Investigate countable and uncountable nouns, and learn the details of how we use them with modifiers such as fewer" and "less." Then delve into irregular plurals in English, observing the variety of ways they are formed. Finally, learn about collective nouns and the question of subject-verb agreement, as in, "there's/there are a few reasons."" x
  • 6
    Between You and Your Pronouns
    Enter the world of pronouns, beginning with personal pronouns and the complications that arise around conjoined constructions (e.g., you and me"). Then take on interrogative pronouns-including when to use "who" vs. "whom"-and indefinite pronouns (such as "none"), asking questions such as whether "none" can be both singular and plural." x
  • 7
    Which Hunting
    Confront the often-confusing question of when to use that" as opposed to "which." Study the most commonly applied rules governing these relative pronouns, and hear opinions on the subject from notable grammarians. Also learn about clauses in which relative pronouns disappear, and consider the use of relative pronouns with animate beings vs. inanimate objects." x
  • 8
    A(n) Historical Issue
    Determiners are small words (such as an," "this," "each," or "many") that introduce nouns and create noun phrases. Learn their key functions in English, and see how determiners are different from adjectives and pronouns. Then investigate the history of capitalization in English, current capitalization practice, and the curious history of the capitalized pronoun "I."" x
  • 9
    Funnest Lecture Ever
    Adjectives, in multiple incarnations, form the focus of this lecture. Study the ways we turn adjectives into comparatives and superlatives, and review the much-criticized issue of double comparatives. Look also at adjectives that change meanings depending on where they appear in a sentence, as well as noun phrases in which the adjective, uncharacteristically, appears after the noun. x
  • 10
    Going, Going, Went
    In the realm of verbs, begin by clarifying past tense vs. past participle, and note how new irregularities creep into the verb spectrum. Explore one of the most eternal of usage errors: that of lie" vs. "lay." Study verb tenses and aspects (progressive or perfect), and investigate irregular past participles." x
  • 11
    Object Lessons
    Examine how we categorize verbs based on how they function within the sentence. Along the way, grapple with thorny usage issues, such as whether you feel bad" or "badly," and the "it is me/I" conundrum. Explore how verbs work with or without objects (the transitive/intransitive distinction), and learn about complex transitive verbs." x
  • 12
    Shall We?
    Continue with the category of auxiliary (helping) verbs, beginning with the familiar usage issue of can" vs. "may." Then study the workings of modal auxiliary verbs (such as "might," "must," and "shall"), the primary helping verbs of "be," "have," and "do," and the ongoing controversy over the most notorious of auxiliary verbs: "ain't."" x
  • 13
    Passive Voice Was Corrected
    Explore the use of the often-criticized passive voice, beginning with a clear definition of what distinguishes the passive voice from the active. Consider the benefits of the passive voice for situations in which responsibility for an action is unclear, for maintaining continuity in writing, and for scientific writing in which the narrative requires objectivity. x
  • 14
    Only Adverbs
    Discover the rich world of adverbs, as they modify not only verbs, but also adjectives, other adverbs, clauses, and sentences. Investigate intensifiers (such as very," "surely," and "possibly"), which can either strengthen or hedge statements, and study the subtleties of "flat" adverbs-adverbs that have the same form as their adjective counterparts." x
  • 15
    No Ifs, Ands, or Buts
    Begin this immersion in conjunctions with the controversy surrounding sentences that begin with conjunctions (such as And furthermore..."). Review the functions of coordinating conjunctions ("and," "but," "yet"), subordinating conjunctions ("if," "because," "unless"), and contested uses of the conjunction "plus." Chart the rise of an unusual new coordinator in colloquial use: the word "slash."" x
  • 16
    However to Use However
    Conjunctive adverbs (such as thus," "consequently," or "moreover") conjoin two clauses. Identify the range of conjunctive adverbs and their significant benefits in formal writing. Then explore notable usage issues such as those concerning "however," "more important" vs. "more importantly," and forms such as "firstly" and "thusly," which reflect changes in language style and taste." x
  • 17
    Squirrels and Prepositions
    Among the fine points of prepositions, unpack the issue of different from" vs. "different than." Grasp how prepositions show relationships between words, often giving information about time or location. With this understanding, grapple with controversies such as "between" vs. "among" and "toward" vs. "towards," and investigate a startling contemporary change with the word "because."" x
  • 18
    Stranded Prepositions
    Is it incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition? Trace the origins of this idea, and see how the practice came to be viewed as bad" usage. Consider the views of 20th-century commentators, and note specific cases where "stranding" the preposition can add elegance and stylistic punch to writing." x
  • 19
    The Dangers of Danglers
    Look closely at dangling modifiers, which are words or phrases that appear to modify something other than what was intended (e.g., Glancing through the document, the typos jumped off the page."). Investigate a variety of danglers, including some that have become accepted in formal writing, and consider their implications for both spoken and written expression." x
  • 20
    Navigating the Choppy Paragraph
    Learn how to make your prose writing flow and avoid choppiness through key syntactic choices. Study the known-new contract, a principle for presenting information by placing known information before new information, sentence to sentence. Examine three different ways to use this principle, and look at how to present information clearly in scientific writing. x
  • 21
    What Part of Speech is Um?
    Within the grammar of conversation, study the distinction between involved discourse, which relates to negotiating relationships, and informational discourse, which involves delivering information. Then grasp the important roles of discourse markers, small words such as so," "well," and "oh," that help organize discourse and manage our expectations in conversation." x
  • 22
    Duck, Duck, Comma, and Duck
    Punctuation acts as a fundamental component of written usage. It shapes and clarifies meaning, and it organizes language on the page. Review the modern rules regarding the punctuation marks that structure sentences: commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes. Highlight core uses of commas, and consider how punctuation follows different rules in texting. x
  • 23
    Its/It's Confusing
    Apostrophes present multiple usage issues. Examine how we use them with contractions and possessives, noting the problems involved with nouns ending in s". Explore how apostrophe usage can create and alleviate ambiguity. Consider exceptions to "standard" use of the apostrophe, and think about what the future of the apostrophe may be." x
  • 24
    Trending Language
    Examine some new grammatical expressions that are on the rise, and explore the controversy they ignite within the linguistic community. Remember that English usage is a living process, and language must respond to its audience and context, adapting as necessary to fit new conditions. Conclude by considering changes to watch for in our language. x

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DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 192-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 192-page printed course guidebook
  • Suggested Reading
  • Questions to Consider
  • Bibliography

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Your professor

Anne Curzan

About Your Professor

Anne Curzan, Ph.D.
University of Michigan
Dr. Anne Curzan is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English at the University of Michigan. She earned a B.A. in Linguistics from Yale University and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. Professor Curzan has won several awards for teaching, including the University of Michigan's Henry Russel Award, the Faculty Recognition Award, and the John Dewey Award. Her research interests...
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English Grammar Boot Camp is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 119.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from English Grammar Boot Camp I have to say that Dr. Anne Curzan is one of our favorite professors, and her latest course offering does not disappoint. Her teaching style, while very profession, is also friendly and welcoming, and we love how she pulls examples from her own life to illustrate various points. She gets a 5 out of 5 rating simply because that's the highest rating available. My reason for giving this course only 4 out of 5 possible points is the awful CGI background with the pop-up screen supposedly rising out of the floor! It was extremely distracting, to the point where we occasionally lost the point Professor Curzan was trying to make. Please go back to the soothing academic background that doesn't constantly shift perspectives. Thanks very much.
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Delightful and Very Informative! I have purchased very many courses from The Great Courses, and enjoyed them all. This, however, is a shining jewel among the other excellent courses! The professor is, of course, an expert in her field, but she takes her knowledge of the English language and it's development over the centuries to create a fun, informative course that may well destroy many of our grammar myths. My wife and I are both well-educated but wanted a better understanding of grammar. We got that, and a number of enlightening and delightful lessons filled with the professor's excellent humor. This is a course for anyone!
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Inaccurate Title Boot Camp implies that we would review grammar rules that would help whip us into shape in terms of usage. Instead this course discussed the history of the language and how it is changing. The rules are remarkably fluid and instead of helping me focus on what is right or wrong, it disappointed me in the approach that almost anything goes. For those interested in the history of the language or how it is changing, this could be a good course.
Date published: 2016-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Grammar and Punctuaction, Taught With Kindness Internet comment boards are filled with grammar critics who mistakenly believe that the ability to spot and correct another's grammatical mis-step equates with some sort of moral superiority. Many persons have memories of mean-spirited grammar teachers who seemed to look upon bad grammar as if it was among the worst human atrocities.. Professor Anne Curzan is a compassionate grammarian, who adopts a kindlier approach to teaching the intricacies of her subject, unlike many of the grammar correctors previously encountered, and for good reason. As Curzan notes from her own life-long study of grammar, punctuation, and speech, these are constantly changing subjects about which so-called experts are often not in agreement. Inasmuch as such a thing is possible, Curzan tries to make these subjects fun, without losing her professionalism in her consideration of them. This course covers a variety of grammatical subjects that many of us learned, but have either forgotten over time, or never really think about any more. It is an interesting look at both its subjects' "forest" (for example, why should we even care about grammar) and its "trees", (such as dangling modifiers, split infinitives, use of the Oxford comma, and stranded prepositions). All of these subjects are taught with a goal of helping us to understand the basic rules, the exceptions, historical evolution of the topic, and when and how experts disagree on the rules respecting them. We also learn about how collective wisdom on these subjects has evolved or may be evolving. This course will be of benefit to writers who not only want to follow the rules of the grammar game, but who also wish to write more clearly, more concisely, and in a manner that will not turn off readers who are concerned not just about the message of the writing, but how that message is packaged. It will also serve to make readers more open-minded to how others use grammar and punctuation, keeping in mind constantly changing norms and usages of grammar, punctuation and speech. Professor Curzan brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her subject matter. She is not only very knowledgeable in the areas of grammar and punctuation usage, but also in their history, as well as in the fields of linguistics, conversation, and in the evolution of speech. This knowledge is helpful in explaining how some of the strange grammatical rules came into being, and how what used to be a grammatical faux-pas may no longer be so. Having completed my watching of all of the twenty-four excellent lessons, I must confess to some apprehension that this review may be full of a host of grammatical sins. I am confident however that Anne Curzan would be kind in her correction of them, and going forward, I too will be more forgiving when I see something that I consider to be grammatically offensive.
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just Loving It I have only got to Lesson 4 but am just loving it and learning a lot This is probably not the place to ask a question of the Professor but I am curious to know if she will be covering the phrase "refer back" which she uses. Is it a tautology and are tautologies acceptable in normal speech?
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from superb course! (but this is not "basic training") This is one of the most enjoyable of the over 60 Great Courses series I have purchased. I generally buy audio downloads to listen to on my iPod when I’m out walking. When I discovered this course, however, I knew I would be missing out if I didn’t get the video. So I ordered the video download. I’m glad that’s what I did. I downloaded the Great Courses iPad app and was able to stream the course while sitting in my comfy chair. This course was an absolute delight. Don’t let the title fool you, however. “Boot Camp” should not, in this context, be construed to mean “basic training.” This course is anything but basic. In the first lecture Curzan says, “I’m a complete geek about grammar—and I have a feeling that you’re here, taking this course, because you also care a lot about language and how to use it well. You’re in the right place.” There is definitely a lot of grammar geek material in this course. Curzan is a linguist, which means she is as much concerned with how language is actually used as she is with proper usage. In fact more so. That’s not to say that anything goes. She very much understands the need for proper grammar in written English, and she tells her students (and us) that using certain constructions might cause the writer to be judged by certain readers, or that a certain usage might simply be distracting to the reader. At the same time she points out that certain rules, such as not splitting an infinitive or not ending a sentence with a preposition, were established more or less arbitrarily. If you are a grammar geek you will love this course.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This made grammar fun! I wish I had a grammar instructor like Professor Curzan when I was in school. I had a very good teacher in 10th grade, she made me really enjoy the subject, but unfortunately it was just that one year. It is apparent that Anne Curzan loves her subject. She made it interesting and fun as well as extremely instructive. The only part I did not like was that the course ended too soon. I would highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to brush up on the subject as well as anyone who never really went beyond the very basics. Obvously if you have ambitions to write, whether as a journalist, blogger or author, you will get a lot out of this course. It will also leave you wanting to learn more, but she does give you the directions of where you can continue.
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from English Grammar Boot Camp As an editor, I purchased this course as a refresher. Surprisingly, I learned a lot, too. Thanks, Anne.
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best courses ever I am a retired engineer and computer person, not a writer or language type, but this was one of the best courses I have ever taken. Dr. Curzan is a great lecturer, very knowledgeable about English grammar and the history of English grammar, and sees the English as a dynamics system. Notice that I just used an Oxford comma. She is in favor of the Oxford comma but teaches tolerance throughout the course. She shows what is preferred and also what is acceptable, and the history of both using a sense of humor. I really enjoyed this course and will view it again. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Covers the Basics This is a very good course to brush up on the basics of grammar, but don't look for it to extend much beyond that. It would be nice to have a more in-depth, advanced grammar course.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beyond the Do's and Dont's These lectures are well presented: clearly and comprehensively. This is not a course on the do's and don'ts of English grammar. It provides an understanding of why we use the language the way we do, the rationale behind the structures of the sentences we speak and write. One will be pleasantly surprised to learn that we already know far more grammar than we thought and many of the rules learned in elementary and secondary schools from split infinitives to dangling prepositions are no longer banished. In sum, the course is both freeing while informative and leaves one in better command of standard English.
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyed listening and watching the lectures This is a really good way to learn or actually review your English Grammar. I liked Professor Anne Curzan's presentations and found her topics much useful. What I really learned is that English Grammar is evolving and changing and some of the grammar rules and words that I was taught as a child may have, you might say, shifted to some new trends. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to brush up on your grammar. Since I do have the opportunity to teach grammar, I feel confident to learn from her approaches to learning and I hope I can be able to help my students improve their grammar, respectively.
Date published: 2016-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from English Grammar Boot Camp I was more than pleased with this course's content and presentation. There are so many times that things presented by the news media particularly grate my sense of proper grammar that I wish this course were obligatory for them.
Date published: 2016-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Review of an important subject. An excellent review of a subject that many Americans are weak on.
Date published: 2016-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prescriptive/Descriptive? What about Proscriptive! If your mother insisted you speak Philadelphia Proper English at home, and your 8th grade teacher believed diagramming sentences more important than Algebra, you will love the ways Professor Curzan lectures around all their Proscriptions. If you like words and grammar, you will thoroughly enjoy both her Great Courses––English Grammar Boot Camp and The Secret Life of Words. While she does circle round and round many points, eventually she gently guides her students to proper word choice and sentence construction. Thus, these lectures are not only fun, but useful for anyone who uses words and phrases as tools in life.
Date published: 2016-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Come To Boot Camp Prepared An excellent course on English Grammar. Professor Anne Curzan covers a lot of ground, but does it with some well placed humor. Because she has a degree in Linguistics, there was also plenty of interesting background on how our language changes. Since I know a few people who insist our language is only correct if you follow the rules they learned and never want to update, I found that background material useful and amusing. My one suggestion would be, if you are like me and have long forgotten much of the terminology of grammar, brush up on the definitions. For example, do you know what a relative clause is? Sometimes Professor Curzan is well into the discussion before she gets around to defining the terminology in use.
Date published: 2016-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from English Grammar Bootcamp I think Ann Curzan did an excellent job of presenting what might have been dull subject matter, in an easy, informal, humorous way. She clarified many grammatical points that can often cause confusion. She was far less PREscriptive than I would have expected. Even so, sho stood her ground against the text/twitter would be changes to our language. Love to take a course with her, in person.
Date published: 2016-10-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Basic Training for English Speakers I write for a living. No, not books or short fiction stories, but reports for forensic investigations. Talk about grammar Nazis (and now, even better: "grammandos")! One would have thought that Strunk & White invented English for all of the adherents that correct every sentence. Finally, a professional linguist comes forward setting the record straight! English is an evolving language system and our communication, written and spoken, reflect this. Strunk & White are no different than Emily Post, offering opinions about behavior in polite society. Grammar Bootcamp had been an exceptional offering by Great Courses and Dr. Curzan is a terrific lecturer. I recommend this course for anyone - especially all you office Grammandos!
Date published: 2016-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Rnglish Grammar Boot Camp If one would think that one couldn't have fun with grammar one would be wrong. I had such good time listening to this outstanding teacher. She presented the material in a logical and simple flow (that's a word she covered amusingly "flow"). I learned a lot but most importantly I learned to follow the fundaments of a good sentence structure and not agonize over usage issues. Before this course I confused 'usage' with 'correct'. No more. I can write freely without the fear of producing substandard writing. The professor explained the issues clearly inclusive of all the times a writer can choose a word or expression without fearing being burned at the stake. Excellent!
Date published: 2016-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Grammer Bootcamp I am a fledgling memoir writer. Grammar was never one of my strong points. This course has been really helpful to me. It explains many of the things we were taught in grade school but have forgotten. Professor Curzan makes, what could be, dry boring material entertaining and informative at the same time. I am really glad I took the course and would recommend it to anyone not well versed in the mechanics of correct grammar.
Date published: 2016-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Review of Grammar A great review of the basics and it also gives an outstanding sense of the power of words and how they are put together.
Date published: 2016-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course but Engineers Beware! Professor Curzan gives an excellent course on English grammar. She explains the grammatical rules and provides numerous examples showing the correct and incorrect forms. However, as she notes in her explanations, English grammar is not exact. English grammar has rules except when it doesn’t. Professor Curzan provides numerous examples of exceptions with the verb “to be” having the most exceptions from the rules. Professor Curzan also demonstrates her points with historical quotes and examples of style guides. These examples illustrate how the English grammar has been and continues to be an evolutionary process. Some English grammar that is acceptable today was not acceptable in the past. Other English grammar that was used in the past is not favored today. However, as I mentioned in the title of my review, engineers need to beware. Professor Curzan focuses primary on formal and colloquial written and verbal communications. However, the grammar rules that Professor Curzan presents may not align with the grammar rules for engineering reports and international standards. The readers of these documents may have learned English in engineering schools in Europe or Asia. Such engineers were probably taught British English and are unlikely to understand American colloquialisms. Be sure to consult your Engineering Handbook or the style guide of the organization which will be receiving your document. Also note that some international organizations used British English instead of American English. For over 20 years, I have been actively involved in the creation of numerous international telecommunications standards and have served in many different roles including Technical Editor. Like Professor Curzan, I am also a grammando, except that my primary focus is the elimination of ambiguities. Ambiguities in engineering documents or standards can result in very bad or even disastrous results. Professor Curzan mentions some of her pet peeves in grammar and I, of course, have my own pet peeves. My top pet peeve is the use of double negatives. In Lecture 3, Professor Curzan contends that the use of double negatives is acceptable grammar. However, I adamantly disagree with Professor Cruzan’s position on double negatives. Double negatives are ambiguous and many engineering style guides expressly forbid them. I will demonstrate the double negative issue using Professor Cruzan’s example double negative statement from Lecture 3 - “We don’t have nothing to hide.” The international engineers that I mentioned before would either interpret the sentence “We don’t have nothing to hide” literally or would analyze the sentence with formal logic techniques such as the techniques taught in The Great Courses class “An Introduction to Formal Logic”. By using these formal logic techniques, it can be shown that “We don’t have nothing to hide” is the exact opposite of the colloquial “We don’t have anything to hide” and it is instead the logical equivalent to “We have something to hide”. Hence, there are two opposite interpretations. Consequently, the double negative is ambiguous and needs to be avoided. In Lecture 12, Professor Curzan discusses the differences between the verbs shall, will, and must. She also explains how the verb must has double meanings. Professor Curzan explanation of the different meanings of these verbs is why many Engineering Handbooks or standards style guides mandate the use of shall for requirement statements and why engineers need to know the differences between these verbs. The Oxford comma is a wonderful grammatical tool for removing ambiguity. While Professor Curzan does discuss the Oxford comma in Lecture 22, she does not adequately emphasis its value in removing ambiguity. Let’s consider the phrase “sugar, salt and pepper”. Is this phrase referring to three separate items or is it referring a single sweeter and a mixture of two other entities? The phrase is ambiguous. However, if the Oxford comma is added after the word salt, the phrase become “sugar, salt, and pepper” which unambiguously indicates three separate items. In summary, while I disagree with Professor Curzan on a couple of grammatical points, her course is still very valuable and highly recommended.
Date published: 2016-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Boot camp review Professor Anne Curzan has presented another dynamic course for all of us to watch,learn, put to use in every day speaking and writing. Professor Curzan presentation is enjoyable with her vast knowledge of the subject that I could not wait to go from one lecture to the other. I have bought and listen to hundreds of "Great Courses" over the years and cannot wait until she produces her next " great course" I wish I had a Professor like Anne Curzan when I was attending the University, it would have made learning fun!
Date published: 2016-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! I am thoroughly enjoying this course . . . As a writer/author, is's very interesting to learn more about what I don't know. that I thought I knew. Though I haven't finished the whole course, I'm eager to carve out more time from my writing to follow a few lectures at a time. Thanks for providing this great learning tool.
Date published: 2016-09-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Teaching Tool This title was ordered with the hope that there would be segments I could use in classes to help my ESL students (community college level) learn the intricacies of English language grammar. I found it interesting to me as a teacher, but far too complicated for ESL students. In fact, I doubt most of the explanations are suitable for learning grammar as one might expect from the title "Boot Camp." But then, most military recruits think of Boot Camp as a test of their physical and emotional stamina rather than a learning experience, so perhaps it is an apt title. The lectures cover many of the intricacies and constant changes in the rules of English grammar, which is fun for me, but the course is definitely not a useful teaching tool for students. In fairness, it is not advertised as such -- I've just been searching years for a good, solid, understandable grammar review in any form. I guess the language does not lend itself to such a product.
Date published: 2016-09-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Advanced boot camp One thinks of boot camp as basic training for the beginner. This course is not for the person beginning to learn English grammar. The course helps the person who already knows the basics to polish his skills. (There is a lesson on whether one should use "his" or some other word in this sentence.) By the time one finishes the course, he will learn that English is a constantly evolving language, and usage that is unacceptable in one decade may be completely acceptable in another. That being said, I disagree with one of the professor's premises. I think that the essential purpose of writing is communication, and I think it is the writer's responsibility to avoid constructions which impose on the reader the burden of figuring out what the writer means. The professor indicates, for example when discussing the placement of "only", that if the reader can determine from the context what the writer means, then one should not worry about the placement. I contend that if I have to stop and look at other sentences in order to determine what one sentence means, then the writer has not done a good job of communication. Maybe it's because I'm fascinated by the nuances of language, but I found each lesson interesting. I understand why the professor has won teaching awards. Her discussions of what many consider dry topics are engaging. I recommend this course for those who want to hone their writing skills.
Date published: 2016-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from English Grammar Boot Camp In 24 sparkling half hour lectures, Professor Curzan covers usage questions that many of us have struggled with over the years such as ending a sentence with a preposition or recognizing a dangling modifier. . I found her lectures to be informative and entertaining. Her students are fortunate to have her as an english professor. The english professors I had in college pale in comparison to Dr. Curzan who has the ability to make a dry subject like grammar come alive.
Date published: 2016-09-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Difficult topic, wonderfully presented Professor Anne Curzan is at her pedagogical best in her presentation of a challenging and difficult subject matter area that too often leads one down a "rabbit hole" of boredom and confusion. In approaching all that is within the penumbra of (American) English grammar and usage, Professor Curzan has carefully structured this 24 lecture series to address the major areas of English grammar. Unlike her other courses, the inherent obtuseness of the subject matter (for example, distinguishing appropriate use between the relative pronouns "which" and "that") conspires to make this general course subject matter area far denser than any of Professor Curzon's previous lecture series (Question: is "series" an apropriate plural use of the word "series"-the matter is thoroughly discussed, but I am still uncertain as to whether "series" or "series'" with a final apostrophe is the preferred useage!) or any of the other courses in the canon of linguistic courses offered by The Teaching Company. Nevertheless, Prof. Curzan soldiers on in doing an admirable job in making the most complex areas relatively easily digestible. Of particular note is her final lecture in the course, wherein she delivers a truly brilliant, moving and elegaic explanation as to why grammar must matter to all of us.
Date published: 2016-09-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from It is more of a style guide than focusing on the eight parts of speech. I am only half done with the course and I am disappointed in it. I wish it was a little more basic in nature.
Date published: 2016-09-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not a boot camp An interesting set of lectures about grammar and the changes in acceptable usage in English. However, the title is BOOTCAMP--that implies this is a basic training course, this course is anything but that.
Date published: 2016-09-09
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