The 19 Best English Grammar Books: Textbooks, Workbooks and Downloadable Material
Anytime you have a grammar question, you should have something that gives you an answer.
English grammar books are collections of rules for punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, word usage and so much more.
These books are often used by professors and writers as well as English learners, and they range from in-depth grammar guides to workbooks with plenty of exercises.
Whatever your needs are, we’ve got you covered with these 19 comprehensive English grammar books for perfecting your writing and speaking.
- Grammar Textbooks with Exercises
- “Schaum’s Outline of English Grammar”
- “A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar”
- “ESL Intermediate/Advanced Grammar”
- “Complete English Grammar Rules”
- “The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation”
- “McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage”
- “The Best Grammar Workbook Ever!”
- “Understanding and Using English Grammar Workbook”
- “Focus on Grammar”
- Grammar Reference Books
- English Grammar Material Online
- How to Study with English Grammar Books
- Advantages of Improving Your English Grammar
Grammar Textbooks with Exercises
These high-quality textbooks both explanations and exercises, so you can work through them by chapter:
“Schaum’s Outline of English Grammar”
“Schaum’s Outline of English Grammar” is more than just a workbook, it’s a thorough grammar guide that’s loaded with grammatical material and practice problems. This workbook is perfect for students who like to memorize rules and terminology. The material is presented in a straightforward way with definitions and explanations, but it doesn’t provide much for students who learn through scenarios.
For this reason, it’s only recommended for learners who benefit from traditional learning styles and don’t need illustrations and creative activities to memorize grammar. With that said, “Schaum’s Outline of English Grammar” can take any dedicated student from intermediate to advanced provided you stick to the book’s structured learning program.
It’s even great for aspiring writers!
“A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar”
This student grammar book is a much cheaper and shorter version of “The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language,” which is a landmark grammar book that’s at a massive 1800+ pages (and costs around three digits, even for used copies). In comparison, “A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar” has a more regular size of around 300 pages.
Both books are published by Cambridge University Press, but this version is much more approachable and meant for students who don’t know that much about English grammar yet. It also has exercises at the end of each chapter so you can apply what you’ve learned.
“ESL Intermediate/Advanced Grammar”
If you’re tired of learning English from books that don’t understand the unique challenges that English language learners face, this book is right for you. It’s written by a bilingual author who knows what it’s like to learn a second language and explains the content in a way that’s perfect for ESL students.
The book is a mix between textbook and workbook, and it explains different grammatical structures as well as gives you various problems related to the topics. It’s filled with test-taking strategies to help students prepare for the TOEFL exam and covers the basics of articles, prepositions and verb structures.
The book even comes with its own comprehensive glossary, so you don’t have to worry about carrying around a dictionary every time you study.
If you’re preparing for an upcoming English proficiency exam, “ESL Intermediate/Advanced Grammar” is a must-have book to add to your study collection!
“Complete English Grammar Rules”
This book of grammar rules and terms was published in 2016, which means the information contained inside will include the most recent additions to the language.
You can keep this as a standalone grammar guide because it’s pretty comprehensive at more than 500 pages. Topics are arranged by difficulty and can be read on their own. One feature I like is that it features both example sentences and sentences that use the grammar concept incorrectly for contrast. There’s also a short, multiple-choice quiz at the end of each chapter.
“The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation”
“The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation” is a workbook-style book that breaks down the rules of English grammar with short explanations.
It has plenty of real-world examples, with emphasis on common questions like the difference between “your” and “you’re,” and there are quizzes for every chapter at the end of the book. Aside from grammar, it also covers punctuation and capitalization rules, which can seem pretty confusing in English!
You can check out their website to get a preview of the book’s style and try some free grammar quizzes.
“McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage”
The “McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage” is a classic grammar book that often shows up in classrooms, and it’s especially great for learning how to write better. It’s pretty accessible and easy to read, with summaries at the end of each chapter, and it also touches on how to communicate through social media, email, and other modern platforms.
What’s helpful about the book is it goes over the most frequent grammar mistakes that people often make. Compared to other grammar books, it’s not dry reading, either—there’s a touch of humor here and there.
“The Best Grammar Workbook Ever!”
This award-winning workbook promotes itself as a one-size-fits-all book that suits the needs of every student from age “10 through 110.” What makes it different than other grammar workbooks out there is the easy-to-understand approach that the author takes to learning grammar.
“The Best Grammar Workbook Ever” doesn’t force students to memorize boring grammar rules. Instead, they learn English grammar through examples and context, just like native English speakers.
Also, if you really want to boost your English grammar knowledge, try using it alongside “The Best Little Grammar Book Ever!”—a textbook that explains the material covered in the workbook.
“Understanding and Using English Grammar Workbook”
If your proficiency level is somewhere between intermediate and advanced and you’re someone who loves to study independently, “Understanding and Using English Grammar” is filled with all of the in-depth knowledge that you need to understand grammar.
The workbook is loaded with challenging problems and helpful examples that cover the basics of articles, verb conjugation, punctuation and many other important grammatical areas that can help you speak and write English like a native speaker.
Not all books come with an answer key, so check to make sure that you have the full edition before ordering your copy. You can even use the workbook alongside the “Understanding and Using English Grammar” textbook to really send your grammatical skills to the next level.
“Focus on Grammar”
“Focus on Grammar” is a series of grammar books broken up into the following proficiency levels, from beginner to advanced:
“Focus on Grammar” workbooks are designed for the student who benefits from structure and organization. If you’re someone that prefers explanations over context and want to know the ins and outs of each grammatical rule covered, this is the perfect book is for you.
The “Focus on Grammar” workbooks are designed for classroom use as well as self-study, so students benefit from a versatile workbook that covers meaning, form and practical grammar knowledge.
Grammar Reference Books
Sometimes you just want to find an answer to a grammar question—and grammar reference books are handy for that. These English grammar reference books directly explain the rules for sentence structure, word usage, punctuation, capitalization and more.
“Practical English Usage”
“Practical English Usage” is a well-known grammar book that’s already on its fourth edition. Geared towards intermediate and advanced learners, it covers more than 600 grammar points that are often tricky, such as the difference between “bring” and “take” or how to use different articles. Interestingly, it also tackles the problem of usage. For example, you might know how to form the perfect tense, but when exactly do you use it?
Beyond this, the second part of the book talks about common issues with vocabulary. You’ll also find extra information about topics like polite or offensive language and how to communicate in English, such as with business emails.
“Oxford Guide to English Grammar”
“Oxford Guide to English Grammar,” by John Eastwood, is a comprehensive grammar reference book that you should always keep at your fingertips. It covers all the key grammar topics in detail, and is a great book for understanding the patterns and structures of the English language.
However, this book doesn’t have any exercises, so I advise you to use it for reference purposes. For instance, if you’re stuck somewhere or you need a better explanation, look up the topic in this book and follow the examples given.
Alternatively, you can use this book as a supplement to another grammar resource, and refer to it for more in-depth explanations or a wider variety of examples.
“Cambridge Grammar of English”
At almost 1000 pages, “Cambridge Grammar of English” is one of the thickest grammar book that you’ll find on this list. Even though it dives deep into major English grammar topics, don’t be intimidated by the size! it’s pretty user-friendly and written in clear language, and each grammar concept comes with lots of example sentences that you’ll actually hear in everyday life.
It also comes with a digital version in the form of a CD-ROM, which makes it much easier and faster to find what you’re looking for. You can listen to every example in the book being read out loud too!
“The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar”
Have you ever heard an English grammar term, like “appositive” or “gerund,” and wondered what it meant? “The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar” was written exactly for that. It’s a grammar reference book, but it focuses on defining grammar terms instead of explaining grammar rules.
Like a dictionary, it has more than 1,500 entries from A to Z, so you can easily look up any grammar terms that you encounter! A neat feature is that it includes not only example sentences but actual snippets from books and articles.
“The Best Punctuation Book, Period”
Grammar isn’t just about the words—there’s also punctuation to consider too! While some books might have only a small chapter on punctuation, “The Best Punctuation Book, Period” is a helpful reference that discusses each type of punctuation that you’ll find in the English language, including Oxford commas and apostrophes.
Although it’s not a full grammar reference book, it’s an excellent resource for learning punctuation rules. You’ll learn exactly how to use each punctuation mark in different situations.
“Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing”
Looking for a grammar book that’s fun and witty rather than dry? “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” might not have as much information as other reference books, but instead of simply listing the rules, it’s written in a friendlier, more conversational style.
The writer’s actually also the owner of the award-winning “Grammar Girl” podcast, which teaches English grammar for improving writing skills. It was so popular that it was the second most listened to podcast in iTunes before, and it has been going strong for more than 15 years.
English Grammar Material Online
Aside from classic grammar books, there are also free grammar resources that you can quickly check out online. You can conveniently choose an individual chapter or exercise to complete anytime, anywhere.
This website’s index of grammar topics will give you a complete crash course in the language. The topics are arranged alphabetically and you can literally start anywhere. Each topic also has a number of online exercises to help you further practice and improve your skills.
At the top of the page, they even have specific “grammar tutorials” for certain topics like verb tenses, gerunds and conditionals, which come with charts and frequently asked questions to ensure you have a clear understanding of these topics.
Education First also contains a brilliant grammar guide, neatly sorted by the important parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc.). I’d suggest you primarily use this as a reference tool, because they have easy-to-understand definitions and relevant examples.
Think of it as more of a textbook than a workbook. For instance, if you’re curious about nouns, you’ll get to learn about the different kinds of nouns, the rules of capitalization and even about pronouns. That way, you’ll be able to identify nouns in a sentence as well as learn how to modify them to express what you want.
English 4U is a wonderful website, filled with resources for non-native speakers who’ve just begun their English learning process. Their website has two free grammar books available for download. “Grammar Book 1” is for beginners, while “Grammar Book 2” is a follow-up for intermediate students.
The first book covers some of the most common English grammar topics, such as plurals, simple tenses, articles and questions. It’ll be ideal for those struggling with the structures of basic conversations.
There are 16 chapters. Each one begins with a short lesson, followed by several exercises that are accompanied by the right answers.
The second book covers more complicated tenses, irregular verbs and similar words that are easy to mix up. It has 20 chapters.
This website contains links to download two free grammar books as well as recommendations for books you could buy. However, both of the free books contain more than 100 worksheets each and are a must-have for students eager for more grammar practice.
These worksheets have a wide variety of exercises to keep you engaged for quite some time. If you’ve already read the other grammar books and are looking to practice and apply what you’ve learned, you’ll have a fun time solving these worksheets. You can even use them in a study group.
How to Study with English Grammar Books
Here’s how you can make the best of any grammar book that you refer to.
- Find an engaging English grammar book that suits your learning style. Just because mastering grammar takes work doesn’t mean it has to be boring.
Some students prefer to have books that are filled with creative ways to approach grammar, while others enjoy reading grammar rules and then solving problems. You’ll also want to check if the book you’re buying is the latest edition.
- Supplement with other resources that show how the grammar is actually used in context. One example is the language learning program FluentU, which has hundreds of native English videos like movie trailers, TV show clips, news segments, music videos and more.
These are paired with interactive subtitles that allow you to see the meaning of any word just by clicking on it. This will also bring up the word’s grammatical information, including the mood, tense and number.
If you save the word to your flashcard list from a video, the review quizzes will test you on that specific meaning of the word. This means that if you want to study a certain tense or word based on your grammar book, you can make a flashcard deck for it. And since flashcards show you other examples of the word in use in the same context, you’ll get plenty of practice.
- If you’re not sure about a rule, look it up. There are times when you might feel unsure about how to write something, like where to put an apostrophe or whether to capitalize a certain word. These are perfect things to look up in a grammar book! Seeing the written rule and then using it can help you remember it better.
- Use the index. Most grammar books have an index. An index is a part at the end of the book that alphabetically lists every major topic mentioned in the book, as well as which page to find it on. For your question about the Oxford comma, for example, you can turn to the back of the book and look for “comma,” or even “Oxford comma.” The numbers in the index show you which pages have the information you need.
- Read the theory first. Don’t even try doing any exercises unless you’ve read and understood the theory first. That way, when you finally start on the exercises, you’re less likely to be stuck.
- Try to form sentences using the examples given in the book. Most of the examples in these books will use common English vocabulary and phrases. So you can try and memorize their formats to use in your own communication.
For instance, you may encounter example questions such as, “Can you tell me the way to the school?” You can memorize the first half of the sentence and replace “school” with “bank” or “restaurant” as the case may be, and use it anytime you need to ask for directions.
Advantages of Improving Your English Grammar
Here’s some major motivation for getting good at grammar (and investing in a grammar reference book):
- The meaning of your sentence can be lost due to poor grammar. Remember, the purpose of improving your English skills is so that you can effectively communicate. That won’t happen if others aren’t able to understand what you’re trying to say.
- Knowing the grammar rules helps you look like a native speaker as well as write faster and more efficiently.
- Learning grammar is extremely important if you need to communicate in English at the university level or in the workforce. A professional audience demands professional quality. Using correct grammar puts you on the same level as others in your field.
Remember that learning English is a process that takes time and dedication. These resources will help you incorporate grammar into your study routine and increase your overall fluency.
If you take advantage of these ideas, you’ll be on your way to becoming an English grammar wizard!