Studying grammar is a way to improve it. And to study grammar, you can use English grammar books.
But which book should you use? There are so many out there!
Here are the 20 best English grammar books.
1. The Elements Of Style By William Strunk Jr. And E.B. White
Every English writer knows “The Elements of Style”.
This is a helpful book that teaches you how to write better in English and gives you guidelines and tips on how to make your writing clearer, more concise, and easier to understand.
It’s not really classifiable as a “grammar book” but you’ll notice that the authors talk a lot about grammar.
You need good grammar to write in good English, after all, right?
“The Elements of Style” is 95 pages long and was published over 100 years ago, but the advice, examples, and tips you’ll find in it are still relevant to modern English.
This is a must-read if you want to improve your grammar in order to write more interesting and effective texts.
2. English Grammar In Use by Raymond Murphy
A book I’ve been recommending to all my learners since I started teaching.
“English Grammar in Use” is organised into short grammar units that present grammatical structures in context.
And the meaning of these structures is explained using simple terms, images, and lots of examples.
Each unit has exercises you can do to practise the grammar you study too.
Everything is so clear and easy to follow. No wonder this is probably the most popular self-study grammar book for learners of English.
There are different levels: Elementary (red cover), Intermediate / Upper-Intermediate (blue), and Advanced (green).
Choose the one that’s most suitable for you and make sure you buy the one with the answer keys, so you can self-check what you got right and wrong in the exercises.
3. Practical English Usage By Michael Swan
There isn’t a grammar topic that hasn’t been covered in “Practical English Usage”, a grammar reference book written a grammarian from the UK.
This is why both teachers and learners have been using this book for decades.
You’ll find explanations for both basic and advanced grammar concepts, common English mistakes, and lots and lots of examples.
I used to regularly use this book myself when I needed to find answers to grammar questions my learners asked or when I wasn't sure about a particular grammar point.
A valuable resource to have on your bookshelf that’s worth every penny.
4. A Comprehensive Grammar Of The English Language By Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik
Nearly 2000 pages! Isn’t this enough to tell you how detailed this book is?
It took 4 people to write what’s probably the most comprehensive and heavy-to-carry-in-your- backpack grammar reference book ever written.
It’s a great one but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re a beginner or intermediate student.
It’s more suitable for grammarians, linguists, teachers, and advanced learners of English who are real grammar nerds.
You’ll find detailed explanations of rules and principles governing sentence and word formation, and the relationships between different parts of speech.
It’s definitely not the book you would read on the beach. But if you’re an English grammar nerd who wants a highly detailed and technical resource that offers a deeper understanding of the complexities and intricacies of the language, well, then this is the book you want to buy.
5. The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need By Susan Thurman
The back cover of this book reads: “‘The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need’ is the ideal resource for everyone who wants to produce writing that is clear, concise, and grammatically excellent.”
This is indeed a practical and user-friendly book that will not only help you improve your grammar but also your writing skills.
It covers a wide range of grammar topics and presents grammar concepts in a simple and straightforward way. You’ll find common writing mistakes and tips and strategies for avoiding them.
It’s not a book designed especially for learners of English, but you’ll find it useful even as an intermediate student.
6. English Grammar For Dummies By Geraldine Woods
Ever heard of the “For Dummies” book series?
This is a series of manuals to help people develop various kinds of practical skills.
Want to learn how to create a website? The “For Dummies” series gets you covered with “Web Development for Dummies”.
Need to learn how to fix your car? No worries, they have “Auto Repair for Dummies.”
Want to learn how English grammar works? Here’s “English Grammar for Dummies”.
In English “dummy” is a noun that means “a stupid person”. But don’t get offended.
It’s called like that not because the editors of the book think you’re stupid, but because the fundamental concepts are explained in such a non-intimidating and simple way that even a dummy would be able to understand them.
This is indeed one of the strengths of “English Grammar for Dummies”. The author uses humour and a conversational and light-hearted writing style to help you understand even the most difficult topics.
And if you want to practise, you can get the accompanying workbook: “English Grammar Workbook For Dummies with Online Practice”
7. Longman Grammar Of Spoken And Written English By Douglas Biber, Susan Conrad and Geoffrey Leech
The grammar of written English is different from the grammar of spoken English. Did you know that?
And it does so through extensive research and analysis of large language corpora, which are vast collections of spoken and written texts taken from the real world (newspapers, TV programs, magazines, movies, etc.).
So you’ll find a detailed analysis of the grammar patterns and structures found in different contexts of language use.
This isn’t just another grammar reference book. It’s a book that really describes grammar and how people use it in real life to communicate.
The illustrations you’ll find in it are also quite cool.
8. Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide To Better English In Plain English By Patricia T. O'Conner
The title of the book says a lot about the writing style of its author.
This is a fun, enjoyable, and light-hearted grammar book that you can read for pleasure after a long day of work, on the beach, or at the park.
It uses a conversational tone to cover a wide range of grammar topics that even native speakers of English find confusing.
Whom or who? Lay or lie? Who or that? If I was or if I were?
You’ll also find straightforward explanations that debunk confusing or misleading grammar rules.
A humorous and accessible book that will help you improve your understanding and usage of English grammar in a relaxed and enjoyable way.
9. English For Everyone By DK Publishing
Do you like grammar explanations that are supported by colourful illustrations, charts, and diagrams? If so, this is the best book for you.
It’s packed with visuals to help you make sense of the most intricate grammar concepts.
The series is divided into different levels – from beginner to advanced – and each level offers grammar guides, workbooks, and practice exercises.
The “English for Everyone” series doesn’t just cover grammar but also vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading, and writing and it adopts a step-by-step approach to help you assimilate structures gradually.
Colorful, self-study friendly, and easy to follow. It makes me want to buy the whole series!
10. The English Grammar Workbook For Adults By Michael DiGiacomo
The English Grammar Workbook for Adults is written by Michael DiGiacomo, a native New Yorker who has been helping language students from all over the world speak English better since the early 1990’s.
The book features clear and concise explanations and expert tips on how grammar applies to real-world scenarios.
It’s easy to use, practical, and has amazing reviews on Amazon too.
This is a helpful book for you if you want to improve your writing fluency and accuracy.
11. Everything Your GRAMMAR BOOK Didn't Teach You By Michael DiGiacomo
Don’t you love the unconventional title already? This is another grammar book by DiGiacomo.
He wrote it for non-native speakers of English and English as a second or foreign language learners. In other words, he wrote it especially for you.
The book doesn’t cover every single aspect of English grammar but only grammar points that are easily and often confused.
DiGiacomo selected these after many years of experience helping people learn English and analyzing the most common errors that his learners made.
It’s 141 pages long and is suitable for intermediate to advanced English learners.
12. Perfect English Grammar: The Indispensable Guide To Excellent Writing And Speaking By Grant Barrett
Grant Barrett is an expert linguist, lexicographer, and dictionary editor from the USA.
In “Perfect English Grammar”, suitable for English language learners of all levels, he gives you all the tools you need to improve your everyday written and spoken communication.
You’ll find catchy examples to help you remember grammar rules, composition guidelines, and answers to tricky grammar questions.
Grant promises that “Perfect English Grammar helps you clearly say what you want to say—and the best way to say it.”
He has extensive experience as a linguist, so there’s no reason not to believe him!
13. The Infographic Guide To Grammar: A Visual Reference For Everything You Need To Know By Jara Kern
“The Infographic Guide to Grammar” is not a book but a fully illustrated guide that covers the most important rules in grammar and punctuation.
It gives you everything you need to know to write and use punctuation correctly.
And it’s filled with colourful visuals that makes even the most confusing rules easy to understand.
No.1 Amazon best seller in the Grammar Reference category.
Enough said 🙂
14. The Big Book Of English Grammar For ESL And English Learners By Thomas Celentano
Thomas Celentano has taught English as a second language for more than 20 years and has published seven books about English grammar for English students worldwide.
Among these, we find this 810-page book for intermediate through advanced English learners.
The book focuses on 6 main language areas:
You’ll find real-life examples of these and many practice exercises.
This book is also a quick reference resource for you if you’re studying for English language exams such as TOEFL, TOEIC, and Cambridge exams.
The new version features an audio and video component.
15. The Best Grammar Workbook Ever: Grammar, Punctuation, and Word Usage for Ages 10 Through 110 By Arlene Miller.
What a catchy title!
I’m not sure you’ll still be interested in studying grammar when you get to 110 years old but, just in case, “The Best Grammar Workbook Ever” will help you make sense of grammar rules even at that age.
This a comprehensive workbook that covers grammar basics, common grammar problems, punctuation, capitalization, and word usage.
It’s written in a friendly tone and the author uses humour to help make learning grammar more enjoyable.
It’s not a book specifically written for language learners though. So it’s probably a useful book for you if you’re already an upper-intermediate or advanced user of English.
You’ll also find more than 100 practice exercises and tests at the end of each chapter, helpful hints, and a complete list of answers.
Curious fact: “The Best Grammar Workbook Ever” book is the 2016 award winner from the New York Book Festival.
16. Macmillan English Grammar In Context
This is a grammar book that can be used in both the classroom with your teacher and for self-study.
All three present practice activities and clear grammar explanations using texts about literature, science, geography, history and social science.
You’ll also find a searchable glossary and review sections for extra practice to consolidate your understanding of key grammatical structures.
You can download samples from this three-level series here.
17. Oxford Learner's Pocket Grammar By John Eastwood
Who wouldn’t want to have all the English grammar rules, explanations and examples in their pocket?
You can have all those thanks to “Oxford Learner's Pocket Grammar”, a pocket-sized book that includes 180 grammar topics and a tip for each of them to help you sound more natural and fluent.
You can take this little book with you on the bus, on the train, or in the toilet (I mean, why not?!) for a quick review or use it to polish your grammar if you’re preparing for Cambridge exams such as B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency.
A great little book for whenever you have a few spare minutes to revise grammar.
18. Oxford English Grammar Course By Catherine Walter And Michael Swan
Each section of the book opens with a cool presentation page that introduces a grammar point.
You’ll then find short, clear and easy to remember grammar explanations as well as practice activities.
These include internet and do-it-yourself exercises as well as personalization activities that will allow you to use the grammar to talk about yourself.
Want more? No problem. You have a ‘More practice' section and a revision test at the end of each section.
You’ll never run out of grammar to study by studying with “Oxford English Grammar Course”.
19. The Perfect English Grammar Workbook: Simple Rules And Quizzes To Master Today's English By Lisa McLendon
In “The Perfect English Grammar Workbook” you’ll find a complete explanation of standard American English to help you get rid of your mistakes both in speaking and writing.
- Modern rules for modern writers
- Focused lessons spread over 17 chapters. Each chapter is divided into individual sections to help you focus on one idea at a time.
- Exercises and quizzes to help you test what you’ve learned.
This is a workbook suitable for learners of English like you.
20. English Grammar: 100 Tragically Common Mistakes (And How To Correct Them) By Sean Williams
On the back cover of her book, Sean Williams says, “Next time you have a nagging grammar question, pick up this practical guide and write with clarity and confidence.”
“English Grammar” is indeed a book filled with language explanations of the most common mistakes even native speakers make.
It covers differences between commonly misused words, typical grammar mistakes, and writing tips and suggestions to help you write more accurately.
The author also says, “Everyone makes mistakes—but with this English grammar guide you’ll make a lot fewer of them. Period.”
The book has great ratings on Amazon, so you can trust her!
The Best English Grammar Books
At the beginning of this post I told you that one way to improve your grammar is to use grammar books. True! Doing grammar exercises and reading grammar explanations is useful.
But let me also remind you that it would be hard to achieve a high level of grammatical accuracy by only doing exercises and studying rules. Don't listen to the grammar villain!
So remember to use grammar. You can do this productively by speaking and writing, or receptively by reading and listening.
Sure, you’ll see a lot of grammar in the 20 books I talked about in this post, but can you imagine how much grammar in context you’ll see in a story?
Whatever book you decide to use, happy grammar studying!