The Story of Be: A Verb’s-Eye View of the English Language

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“Be” is the second most commonly used word in the English language, a fact that becomes actually quite unremarkable when you realize its extremely varied uses. This book walks you through those uses, from “be” meaning a state of existence, to an expression of time or place, to the idea of a condition; the variety is baffling and the differences, subtle; at least until you read the chapter about them, at which point you see how very different these uses actually are. The philological analysis is interesting but does get a little dense, especially as you read through the various pronunciations and usages in different dialects; but it is fascinating to see the history of each use. The highlight of the chapters are the example quotations – many from Shakespeare but also from sources as wide-ranging as Chaucer to Bill Clinton – that illustrate the usage in a clear, entertaining way; amusing illustrations of stuffy Victorians misusing the language also enliven the text. This is a short little book that hides an intricate path of detail about a deceptively simple word: the word “be.”

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 208 pages
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publish Date 2017-Jun-01
ISBN 9780198791096 Buy this Book
Issue August 2017
Category Reference


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