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Rebel with a Clause

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781529360882

Price: £16.99

ON SALE: 11th August 2022

Genre: Lifestyle, Sport & Leisure

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‘The history of language has never seen anything like this. Ellen’s mobile grammar travelogue, presented with an engaging humour and humility will appeal to anyone with an interest in the way English works – which means all of us. Reality television? This is reality grammar.’David Crystal, author of How Language Works

For fans of Gyles Brandreth, Susie Dent and Bill Bryson, an unconventional guide to the English language drawn from the cross-country adventures of an itinerant grammarian.

When Ellen Jovin first walked outside her Manhattan apartment and set up a folding table with a sign reading “The Grammar Table,” it took about 30 seconds to get her first visitor. Everyone had a question for her. The Grammar Table was such a hit – attracting the attention of The New York Times, NPR, and CBS Evening News – that Ellen soon hit the road, travelling across the U.S. to answer questions from students, retired editors, bickering couples, and anyone else who uses words in this world.

In Rebel with a Clause, Jovin shares the heartwarming and humorous stories of the people she meets, and what is most on their minds, grammatically speaking – from the Oxford comma to the places prepositions can go, the likely lifespan of ‘whom,’ semicolonphobia, and so much more.

Rebel with a Clause combines the qualities of a first-class work of reference with the laugh-out-loud pleasure of a good read. Punctuated with linguistic debates from tiny towns to crowded cities, this grammar romp will delight anyone wishing to polish their prose or revel in our age-old, universal fascination with language.


If Ellen writes like she speaks this will be tremendous. She was a top guest on our show: clever, witty and warm. What she is doing with her grammar table comes from the heart and is all about human interaction and breaking down barriers. She is kind, and one of a kind; it was great radio. Our listeners told us the same thing.
Jim Mora, Presenter, RNZ Sunday Morning
Lemonade? Psychiatric help from Lucy? This [Grammar Table] stand in NYC will deal with your grammatical problems.
Steven Pinker, Twitter
This Grammar Guru will solve the world's problems. Or, at least, help you figure out when to use an Oxford comma.
Katherine Rosman, The New York Times
In Rebel with a Clause, Ellen Jovin has given us a street-level view of English grammar and usage, engaging with kids, drunks, cranks, and dads all over this land. From Verdi Square to Venice Beach, Fargo to New Orleans, she brings organization and clarity to every subject she lights on, presiding over the Grammar Table with tact, humility, and irrepressible playfulness. A fresh and democratic take on language by a gifted teacher.
Mary Norris author of Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen and Greek to Me
Ellen Jovin is, literally, a public grammarian, doling out advice on myriad fine points of language from behind a folding table she first set up in Manhattan's Verdi Park. In Rebel with a Clause, Jovin shares not only her story as an itinerant language maven but so much first-rate wisdom about everything from the effective wielding of commas to differentiating between 'effect' and 'affect' (to say nothing of 'who' and 'whom') that you may not realize till you finish the book that you've learned so much. And she does it with sweetness and an enviable generosity of spirit. She never hectors, never finger-points; she enlightens and illuminates. This is lovely work.
Benjamin Dreyer, author of the New York Times bestseller Dreyer's English
Charming tales of grammatical passion.
Mignon Fogarty, author of the New York Times bestseller Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.