A guide to the grammar you already know.
'My first English lesson was grammar with the terrifying Mrs Petrie. She spent the entire time marching up and down the classroom, thwacking various items of school furniture with a ruler while she banged on about the ING part of the verb. I sat there, vibrating with fear, desperately trying to figure out what on earth she could mean. Irregular Negative Gerund? Intransitive Nominative Genitive? It was only years later, when I was teaching English to foreign students, that I realised that English grammar wasn't obscure and wilfully difficult but a fascinating subject which I was already brilliant at - and this book will prove that you are too.'
Forget the little you think you know about English grammar and start afresh with this highly entertaining and accessible guide. English for the Natives outlines the rules and structures of our language as they are taught to foreign students - and have never before been explained to us. Harry Ritchie also examines the grammar of dialects as well as standard English and shows how non-standard forms are just as valid.
With examples from a wide variety of sources, from Ali G to John Betjeman, Margaret Thatcher to Match of the Day, this essential book reveals some surprising truths about our language and teaches you all the things you didn't know you knew about grammar.
A hugely entertaining read, full of attitude and verve and sharp running jokes. And underneath all this lies rigorous linguistic heft, which gives the book real authority - Daily Mail
How many new books are there about words, grammar and language? Nonetheless, Harry Ritchie's English for the Natives leaps to the top of the pile for its sharp, good sense, linguistic rigour [and] sense of humour - The Spectator
On the pleasantly scholarly end of the word book spectrum. Informed by linguistics, it has a particularly good discussion of the controversy between "innatists" (following Chomsky) and others - Guardian
I learnt a lot about my own language from English for the Natives, and about how our language and our understanding of the world have developed in tandem. And I particularly appreciated Harry Ritchie's bold dismantling of the metaphysics of Chomskyan structuralism. Wonderful to have such a fresh first-hand observation of how language actually works - Michael Frayn
Clear, trenchant, funny, Ritchie makes thinking a pleasure - John Carey
Essential reading - Nick Hornby
An engaging response to an educational disaster . . . This book is sensible, valuable and written with a sense of fun - TLS
Ritchie's approach to English grammar in this entertaining book on the subject is a relief - Sunday Times
Harry Ritchie is a former literary editor of the Sunday Times and is the author of a number of books including Success Stories, an analysis of the English literary scene of the 1950s, and The Last Pink Bits, a tour of Britain's remaining colonies. He was born in Kirkcaldy, was educated at Edinburgh University and Lincoln College, Oxford, and now lives in London.