While most grammar books start and stop with an explanation of parts of speech and sentence structure, Navigating English Grammar goes a step further to situate the study of grammar in a cultural context, with a discussion of historical and current debates about grammar, and how we define, discuss, and approach it.
The authors' inquiry-based approach encourages students to discover the basic categories and organizing principles of grammar by exploring their own intuitive knowledge of language. Rather than memorizing grammatical rules, students develop a set of practical tools they can use to analyze oral and written language in its many representations. Throughout the book, the authors highlight how grammatical rules change over time, vary from speech community to speech community, and how oral language differs from written language. Exercises encourage students to explore and investigate not only the structure of English, but the socio-political context of grammar study today. Some of the issues and controversies the authors address include the origins and legacy of prescriptive grammar and notions of language authority, the subjectivity of grammar pet peeves, and debates about how and why to teach grammar in school.