If you’re preparing for the TOEFL, grammar will be important in every section. Good grammar knowledge helps you to both understand and produce English. Here are two grammar books that have worked especially well for TOEFL students I’ve worked with.
The ELT Grammar Book
The ELT Grammar Book is particularly close to my heart. I’ve used it as the basis for a lot of the grammar lessons I’ve written for this blog. And yes, this book is technically a teacher’s resource, not a book for ESL students. But it’s written in very simple, student friendly language. Because of this, a lot of my students have wound up using this book for independent self-study.
This book covers just about anything you might need to know about grammar on the TOEFL. You’ll find in-depth studies of all of the different past, present, and future tenses, complete with examples of these tenses in use. There’s also a very valuable chapter on phrasal verbs, an explanation of how word stress connects to grammar, tutorials on modal and auxiliary verbs, and so much more. The end of each chapter will include a summary that simplifies all the core concepts and makes them very easy to understand. The book also includes descriptions of practice activities students can do to really boost their understanding of English grammar.
Oxford English Grammar Course
True to its name, the Oxford English Grammar Course book is designed to be used as a self-study class in grammar. This book comes in three versions: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced.
But regardless of the version you choose, the Oxford English Grammar Course approaches grammar in a smart, sophisticated way. You’ll walk through all the most important aspects of English grammar progressively. Each chapter builds on the previous one, and key concepts are reviewed time and time again as you move through the course.
And just like The ELT Grammar Book, the Oxford English Grammar Course includes some instruction on spoken English grammar and the use of stress to indicate the grammar of words and phrases. This grammar-course in book form even includes a CD-Rom so that you can actually hear spoken English grammar.
Which of these English grammar books should you choose?
If you’re interested in one or both of these books, you may wonder which book is best. That depends on you. One thing you should know is that The ELT Grammar Book focuses on American English, while the Oxford English Grammar Course is all about British English. So if you have a strong preference for one of these global standards or the other, one book may be better for you. Additionally, while both books have explanations and activities, The ELT grammar book is more explanation focused, and the OEGC has more activities.
Beyond that, either book is a good resource. If you really need to boost your grammar skills, you may even want to get both books.