Errors in Grammar Books Published by Pearson

I looked at Tune in to Grammar, a popular series of grammar books published by Pearson, from Grade 1 to 8. Almost all eight contained errors, with the errors rising significantly in Grade 7 and 8, possibly because the content got more advanced.

This post goes into errors in Tune in to Grammar for Grade 7 and 8. The errors have been covered chapter-wise, with each error followed by my comments in the light-blue box.

Errors in Tune in to Grammar, Grade 7

Chapter 16: Position of Adverbs

The book defines modifier as ‘a word that is used attributively and which qualifies the meaning of another word’ and cites two examples:

Kapil wore a shiny white coat.

Mona bought a brightly coloured scarf.

According to the book, shiny and brightly are modifiers but not adverbs.

There are two problems here.

First, the definition of modifier is problematic because of the word attributively. A word can be a modifier without being used attributively:

I’ll see you tomorrow. [The word tomorrow modifies see non-attributively.]

Second, brightly is an adverb. Only adjectives and adverbs can be modifiers. Whereas shiny is an adjective, brightly is an adverb.

Chapter 19: Conjunctions

According to the book, and, but, or, yet, so, because, although, etc. are coordinating conjunctions.

Because and although are not coordinating conjunctions.

Further down in the chapter, it includes following words under the heading of coordinating conjunction:

  • and, as well as, both…and, and not only…but also
  • but, yet, still, whereas, however, nevertheless, and only
  • or, either…or, neither…nor, else, and otherwise
  • usually, for, therefore, so, then, consequently, and as a result

In the four lists, however, only these are coordinating conjunctions:

  • and
  • but and yet
  • or
  • for and so

Further down, it mentions a long list of subordinating conjunctions.

Here, it erroneously shows therefore, as a result, had, despite, however, still, but, nevertheless, and on the other hand as subordinating conjunctions. How on earth can had be a subordinating conjunction?

Chapter 20: Kinds of Phrases

The book mentions this as an example of adjective phrase:

He spoke against the government that practiced corruption.

It’s not an adjective phrase; it’s an adjective clause.

This chapter also suffers from wrong terminology used for noun phrase, adjective phrase, and adverb phrase. This has been explained in detail in Chapter 18: Kinds of Phrases of Grade 8 book.

Chapter 21: Kinds of Clauses

The book defines clause as following: “A clause, like a phrase, is a group of words. However, unlike a phrase, a clause has a subject, a predicate, and a finite verb.”

It’s a correct, but bloated, definition of clause. The definition should refer to either predicate or finite verb. Why? That’s because a predicate always contains at least one finite verb. So, mentioning both is an unnecessary repetition.

A concise definition would be: A clause, like a phrase, is a group of words. However, unlike a phrase, a clause has a subject and a finite verb.

It provides these two as examples of noun clause:

The president of the club inaugurated the function.

Pratiti enjoys playing the clarinet.

But none is a noun clause.

The first is a noun phrase. The second is a gerund phrase, which is sometimes also termed as a non-finite clause.

It mentions this as a sentence containing adjective clause:

Hema has a beautiful pearl which she found on a beach.

It has not been punctuated correctly. Since the above adjective clause is non-restrictive, it’ll take a comma.

Hema has a beautiful pearl, which she found on a beach.

It provides these as examples of adverb clause:

Anu asked me how to bake a chocolate cake.

We returned home before it got too dark.

The tunnel through which we journeyed is the only route to that place.

Only the second is an adverb clause. The first is a noun clause functioning as direct object of the verb, and the third is an adjective clause.

In case of the third sentence, the book not only names the clause wrongly but also fails to identify what constitutes a clause. It identifies through which as clause when it should be through which we journeyed.

Chapter 22: Simple, Complex and Compound Sentences

The book provides these as examples of compound sentence:

Divya passed but her brother failed.

Raju was tired, so he went off to sleep.

Like the second sentence, the first should use a comma before but. Absence of comma in compound and complex sentences is a common problem in the book.

Chapter 23: Synthesis and Transformation of Sentences

Using an adjective clause, the book combines the two sentences in the first line below to get the sentence in the second line.

Sion lives in Kolkata. He has just joined music classes.

Sion who has just joined music classes lives in Kolkata.

Those who understand essential vs. non-essential information in adjective clauses know that the combined sentence will require a pair of commas.

Sion, who has just joined music classes, lives in Kolkata

Errors in Tune in to Grammar, Grade 8

Chapter 10: Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

The book mentions that ‘some verbs require a complement to complete the meaning of the sentence’ and that ‘such verbs, whether they are transitive or intransitive, are known as verbs of incomplete predication’. It cites following examples, saying that seems, became, and made are intransitive verbs:

The man seems worried.

Chanakya became a great statesman.

The class made the youngest child their leader.

There are few problems in the above information.

First, the book here is referring to subject complement, which accompany linking verbs, also known as copular verbs. The book says that such verbs can be transitive or intransitive. But a linking verb is a separate category altogether; it’s neither transitive nor intransitive. So, the assertion that seems, became, and made are intransitive verbs is incorrect.

Second, irrespective of the terminology, the intention of the book is to give three examples of linking verb, but the third isn’t a right example. Verb made is not a linking verb. It’s a transitive verb, with a direct object (the youngest child) and a complement of direct object (their leader).

Chapter 14: Conjunctions

The book provides following as an example of coordinating conjunction:

Reema is a good vocalist and she plays the bassoon.

Two independent clauses can be joined by a coordinating conjunction and a comma, but a comma is missing.

Reema is a good vocalist, and she plays the bassoon.

It’s a minor thing, but it matters. This error appears quite a few times.

Chapter 16: Punctuation

The book mentions that a ‘comma is used to separate pairs of words, phrases, and clauses’.

The cat and the mouse, the calf and the deer, the fiddler and the others danced all around.

Mr. Gomes, our next-door neighbor, is a teacher.

The man, whom I had once met, entered the room.

Only second has been punctuated correctly. Here are the correct versions of first and third:

The cat and the mouse, the calf and the deer, and the fiddler and the others danced all around. [With introduction of and, it’s a list now. The original punctuation is fine only when the sentence has been written rhetorically, which I highly doubt.]

The man whom I had once met entered the room. [The comma in such cases is determined by whether the adjective clause (whom I had once met) is essential or not. Since it is essential here, it won’t take a pair of commas.]

To sum, this is an absurd rule, which I doubt you’ll find anywhere else. If a comma is used to separate phrases, then why not put a third comma before a teacher as it’s also a phrase. In the third sentence, the book has applied the rule to separate an adjective clause from the independent clause through commas but got incorrect result.

Chapter 18: Kinds of Phrases

The book mentions that a phrase can’t have a finite verb.

A phrase can have a finite verb. Such a phrase is called a verb phrase, which functions as a verb in a sentence.

The book provides following examples of adjective phrase.

She wore a dress of blue colour.

The animals of the zoo are well fed.

A bangle made of platinum is expensive.

But none of the three are adjective phrases. The first two are prepositional phrases functioning as an adjective and the third is a participial phrase, again, functioning as an adjective.

There is a difference between an adjective phrase and another phrase functioning as an adjective. An adjective phrase is a phrase with an adjective as its head word, and it always functions as an adjective. All phrases that function as an adjective, including adjective phrase, are called adjectival phrase. An adjective phrase, in other words, is a subset of adjectival phrase.

In short, the book should have avoided the term adjective phrase for the above three phrases.

The same error has been made with adverb phrase and noun phrase.

Chapter 19: Kinds of Clauses

The book mentions that a clause usually has a subject and a predicate, and a sentence always has a subject and a predicate.

Since the book is referring to a clause with finite verb, a clause too will always – and not usually – have a subject and a predicate.

It combines two sentences to form a single sentence, where one of the earlier sentences is converted to a subordinate clause. Examples:

I entered the greenhouse. The sun had set by then.

When I entered the greenhouse the sun had set.

She is an English lady. She has been giving piano lessons for many years.

She is an English lady who has been giving piano lessons for many years.

The combined sentences haven’t been punctuated correctly. Here are the correct versions:

When I entered the greenhouse, the sun had set. [This one is easy. This punctuation error appears at other places as well.]

She is an English lady, who has been giving piano lessons for many years. [It means that we’ve identified a lady as an English lady, and then we talk about her piano lessons.]

There is a bigger problem with the second sentence. It puts a seemingly less important information (that she is an English lady) in the main clause and a more important information in the subordinate clause. A better sentence would be:

She, who is an English lady, has been giving piano lessons for many years.

It’s actually not a good construction as relative clauses don’t go well with pronouns. (That’s why probably, in the original sentence, the relative clause has been used with an English lady.) This would be a better example.

The woman, who is an English lady, has been giving piano lessons for many years.

Now, the focus is on piano lessons and not on her nationality. A caveat: If for some reasons, the focus indeed needs to be put on her nationality, then the original sentence is fine.

Chapter 20: Simple, Compound and Complex Sentences

The book provides following as examples of compound sentence:

Paromita enjoys drinking coffee and I enjoy drinking coffee too.

I walked all the way but Sally cycled to our destination.

Like mentioned earlier, such compound sentences take a comma before the coordinating conjunction.

It mentions and, but, for, still, only, either…or, neither…nor, both…and, not only…but also, as well as, no sooner… than, etc. as common coordinating conjunctions.

Out of these, only and, but, and for are coordinating conjunctions.

Chapter 21: Synthesis and Transformation of Sentences

The book provides following as an example of a noun or a phrase in apposition:

The children, once affected by floods, are now starting a new life.

Only a noun or a noun phrase can be in apposition. The underlined part is a participial phrase.

It provides following as an example of compound sentence:

He must work hard and win the trophy.

Some treat sentences like the above as compound sentence, but it’s not in line with the widely accepted definition of compound sentence, which requires presence of two independent clauses with own subjects. But the sentence has just one subject and is commonly treated as a simple sentence with a compound predicate.

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Anil Yadav

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