I was wondering if anyone could recommend any great 'English grammar' books pre-1923 ( i.e. public
domain)? I've run a quick search on Amazon.co.uk and no fewer than 4,402 search results were returned! I need to break this list down into say...the top 10. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks everyone,


hi Chris:

A classic on English Grammar is H.W. Fowler's "The King's English" (1908).

It is available on line at Bartleby's: http://www.bartleby.com/116/index.html.

The problem with these old books is that grammar has changed, and it may seem outdated, according to current usage.

Best Regards,

A-Emotion: stars


Hello Chris,

Are you after what might be called a theoretical grammar-- one concerned with how the English language works-- or a practical grammar-- one concerned with how to use it?

The best practical grammar I have come across is "The King's English" by the Fowler brothers. As someone else has mentioned, it is slightly outdated in some areas, but this should present no problems for the discerning reader. It makes up for this, besides, by providing a far deeper insight into the language than any modern guide I have found.

"The Elements of Style" by William Strunk is a very popular short style handbook. It has never been out of print and can be accessed online.

Henry Sweet's "A New English Grammar", available on Google Books, is a good theoretical grammar if you are looking for something pretty comprehensive. There are a few issues with it, such as his occasional use of novel terminology that never caught on (and is therefore useless today). Some of his ideas are a bit awry as well (he includes 'a' and 'the' as pronouns), and his style can be tedious at times. But his exceptional understanding of English has meant that, even today, this work is influential.

C.T. Onions, who edited the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, wrote a great little grammar, but unfortunately that was first published well after 1923.