Generations of student writers have been subjected to usage handbooks that proclaim, "This is the correct form. Learn it"—books that lay out a grammar, but don't inspire students to use it. By contrast, this antihandbook handbook, presenting some three hundred sentences drawn from the printed works of a single, typical day in the life of the language—December 29, 2008—tries to persuade readers that good grammar and usage matter.
Using real-world sentences rather than invented ones, One Day in the Life of the English Language gives students the motivation to apply grammatical principles correctly and efficiently. Frank Cioffi argues that proper form undergirds effective communication and ultimately even makes society work more smoothly, while nonstandard English often marginalizes or stigmatizes a writer. He emphasizes the evolving nature of English usage and debunks some cherished but flawed grammar precepts. Is it acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition? It is. Can you start a sentence with a conjunction? You can. OK to split an infinitive? No problem.
A grammar and usage handbook like no other, One Day in the Life of the English Language features accessible chapters divided into "Fundamentals," "Fine Tuning," and "Deep Focus," allowing readers to select a level most suited to their needs. It also includes a glossary, a teachers' guide, and a section refuting some myths about digital-age English.
Frank L. Cioffi is professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York, and has taught writing at Princeton and Indiana universities and at Bard and Scripps colleges. He is the author of The Imaginative Argument: A Practical Manifesto for Writers (Princeton), among other books.
"Cioffi effectively employs a fast-paced narrative style that readers will find entertaining and insightful."--Teaching Matters Monthly
"One Day in the Life of the English Language is a welcome departure from the vast majority of grammar handbooks. Cioffi suggests that instead of memorizing tons of rules about sentence structure, students should internalize how sentences work--and with the motivation he gives, students have the incentive to want to write well. I truly love this book."--Elizabethada A. Wright, University of Minnesota
"One Day in the Life of the English Language is a book for all writers and teachers of writing--without getting mired in minutia. Cioffi examines the English language as it actually is written today, in the real world rather than how it ‘should’ be written--a simple but powerful concept that easily lends itself to any classroom. Cioffi knows his subject inside out."--Rebecca Chace, author of Leaving Rock Harbor
"Students will find Cioffi's approach intriguing and refreshing, since he is not merely telling them what they should do, but describing options currently in print. They will also enjoy his humorous and casual tone."--Lydia McDermott, Whitman College