The NEW popular edition of Gwynne’s Grammar by Mr Gwynne, giving the principal parts of speech and basic grammatical elements. It also incorporates Strunk’s famous Guide to Style. An essential addition to any library, this new popular edition is printed in perfect bound paperback format. Mr Gwynne has been featured in the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times. idler.co.uk/shop/
'Grammar is the science of using words rightly, leading to thinking rightly, leading to deciding rightly, without which - as both common sense and experience show - happiness is impossible. Therefore: happiness depends at least partly on good grammar.' So writes Mr Gwynne in his small, but perfectly formed new book. Mr Gwynne believes passionately that we must regain our knowledge of the lost science of grammar before it is too late.
Formerly a successful businessman, Mr Gwynne has for many years been teaching and tutoring just about every sort of subject to just about every sort of pupil in just about every sort of circumstance. His teaching methods are very much the traditional, common-sense ones, refined over the centuries, that were almost everywhere until they were abolished in the 1960s. Being disappointed in the standards of grammar he encountered in his pupils, Mr Gwynne, over time, wrote this wonderful, succinct and yet comprehensive little book - because nothing quite as suitable already existed.
This edition also includes Strunk's classic guide to style, explaining how to write well and the main pitfalls to avoid. Beautifully designed, easy to understand and a joy to read, "Gwynne's Grammar" may be the best little book you will ever have in your life.
Gwynne's Grammar Preview
A Note of Encouragement
Here is a step-by-step proof (yes, a proof that really is valid!) that happiness depends partly on grammar.
Step one. For genuine thinking, we need words. (By “genuine thinking” I mean as opposed to merely being conscious of feeling hungry, tired, angry, and so on and wanting to do something about it; in other words, anything that animals cannot do.) Thinking cannot be done without words.
Step two. If we do not use words rightly, we shall not think rightly.
Step three. If we do not think rightly, we cannot reliably decide rightly, because good decisions depend on accurate thinking.
Step four. If we do not decide rightly, we shall make a mess of our lives and also of other people’s lives to the extent that we have an influence on other people.
Step five. If we make a mess of our lives, we shall make ourselves and other people unhappy.
In summary of the proof: grammar is the science of using words rightly, leading to thinking rightly, leading to deciding rightly, without which—as both common sense and experience show—happiness is impossible. Therefore, happiness depends at least partly on good grammar.
Nor does the importance of grammar stop there. Let us expand on some of the elements of the proof just given and also take the proof a little further.
Step one. Words are what we think with as well as communicate with. Without words, we can feel (tired, hungry, angry, and so on), but we cannot think. We cannot reason things out, not even the simplest things.
Step two. From Step one it then follows that if we are to think correctly and usefully, words need to be used correctly, obviously.
Step three. Using words correctly involves two sciences. One of them is vocabulary, the science of what words mean. The other is grammar, the science of how words are used in order to have thoughts and to convey thoughts—in the form of either statements, questions, wishes, or commands. Although vocabulary is in one sense the primary science of all sciences, because we cannot have grammar without words to be grammatical with, it is also the case that vocabulary depends, practically speaking, on grammar. We even need grammar in order to understand vocabulary—to understand the definitions in a dictionary.
Step four. Vocabulary and grammar—words and the correct use of words—are therefore the sciences that are the necessary prelude to the science of thinking. The science of thinking is technically known as logic.
Step five. Logic, in turn, is the necessary prelude to the science of communicating, which includes arguing and debating (which in turn include how to spot and see through attempts to bamboozle us with bogus arguments), and is technically known as the science of rhetoric.
Step six. On these four sciences—vocabulary, grammar, logic, and rhetoric—all other sciences, without exception, depend.
Step seven. We turn now to the taking of decisions. Even at the simplest level, that of taking decisions big or small, the quality of our decisions is going to depend on the accuracy and clarity of the thinking we put into them, and bad decisions adversely affect our well-being, our happiness, and the happiness of people who are affected by us.
Step eight. It does not stop there. If enough people in any society are incompetent in their thinking and in consequence take bad decisions, their bad decisions inevitably affect the whole of that society. The very well-being of society therefore depends in part on good grammar.
Step nine. Would that the harmful effects of bad grammar stopped there. They do not. Civilisation itself exists only in the various societies that make it up. If enough societies in the world crumble as a result of bad decisions taken because of bad thinking, yes, the whole of world civilisation faces collapse, with consequences for each individual that are literally incalculable.
As an argument for the usefulness of this little book, all of that is dramatic and far-reaching indeed. And the logic supporting the case is sufficiently clear-cut to be its own authority. After all, what is demonstrably true is true even if no one believes it. Truth is not decided by majority vote, nor even by unanimous vote, nor even by the majority or unanimous vote of experts.
Is our teaching the best in the world? – and, what is more, by a very long way?
To ask the question again, How could we possibly know who the best teachers in the world are? Have we tried to assess the competence of every other teacher in the world? And anyway, even if we had (which of course we have not), how could we possibly have done such a thing with even the remotest degree of success?
What, however, if the reason were not any special talents in us, but simply a reflection of the manner of teaching as it used to be and the manner of teaching virtually everywhere today?
What if the difference were the reflection of nothing more complicated than the difference between the teaching of today since the 1960s and the teaching throughout the whole of the recorded history of education before that?
What if the traditional teaching, tried and tested century after century, can be shown to be, not just a few percentage points better than is to be found anywhere else, but so dramatic, in terms of the effectiveness, efficiency and speediness of the teaching of the various academic subjects, as to be beyond any normal basis of comparison?
And what if it be the case that we are now the only teachers left in a position know from experience how teaching used to be done? — as, to the best of our knowledge, we are?
Anyway, either there is sufficient evidence – evidence that is completely clear-cut and inescapable – to decide the question, or there is not. And if the evidence indeed be sufficient, it is surely something that parents who genuinely want the best for their children would like to know about, as we certainly should if we were in their shoes.
Accordingly, we have put together a compilation of evidence of different kinds that we have become aware of, all pointing in the same direction, for you to consider. We invite you to examine this evidence for yourselves; and we should welcome your views on it, whatever conclusion you end up reaching.
We have taught pupils in every circumstance from private houses to lecture halls and “face-to-face” over the internet in over a dozen countries age-groups from 3 to 70 the following subjects: English grammar and composition, Latin, Greek, French, German, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, history, geography, handwriting, religion, philosophy in general and logic in particular, and even music.
We think we are the only people whose style of teaching has featured prominently in newspapers, which has happened several times.
The newspaper articles have sometimes, at our request, included our often-repeated challenge, based on plenty of experience over the years, that we reckon to be able to teach, for instance, more Latin in an hour or less than any child at school, however bright, will have learnt in up to five years. Absurd? Only very, very seldom has a response to our challenge been successful. Feel free to try!
Another consequence of the newspaper articles is that we have been invited by several schools to visit them and explain how our much-more-effective traditional system of teaching works, and to demonstrate it in their classrooms these fundamentals of teaching as it always used to be done. We doubt if such a thing has ever happened before in the history of education. Yes, experts are invited to schools to teach such things as new technology, but not to teach the very basics of teaching.
Well, both individually and in total, all this seems to us to be – as we said earlier – a compelling collection of evidence. Do please let us know what you think of it, together with any reasons supporting what you think.