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Recommended grammar textbook for self-study

I love collecting language grammar books in general, and by far one of my favorites is French Grammar and Usage by Hawkins and Towell. It is exceptionally well-organized and a pleasure to read, with lots of examples. It has perhaps the clearest explanation of the subjunctive that I have ever come across.

The one disadvantage for you is that it is has extra focus on difficult points of grammar for native English language speakers. Still, they’re not explicit and I suppose you could simply skip those sections if you find it irrelevant.

Check it out with your favorite bookshop.

For pronunciation, try this book (better not finish it !! or you may end up pedant) and master some vocabulary in this book and for grammar you can always do some books like this one. But the most of it,..try to engage conversations with a french speaker… There are some idioms not well mastered when reading books.

I recently lit upon Mosegaard Hansen, Maj-Britt’s The structure of modern standard French : a student grammar, OUP, 2016.

I posted the following books in Nov 25 2015 based on a now removed website of the University of Cambridge’s Department of French.

  1. Grammars
  • Probably the best recent grammar of French written in English is:

*G. Price, L. S. R. Byrne & E. L. Churchill’s A Comprehensive French Grammar , 4th edition, completely revised by Glanville Price, Oxford: Blackwell, 1999 (F3.E.60)

  • The following may also be of use:

H. Ferrar, A French Reference Grammar, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 1967 (F3.E.37 & F3.E.38, older ed. at F3.E.50)

R. Hawkins & R. Towell, French Grammar and Usage, London: Arnold, 1996 (F3.E.54)

J.E. Mansion, A Grammar of Present-Day French, London: Harrap (old, but still very serviceable). (F3.E.41)

C. Abbadie, B. Chovelon, M-H. Morsel, L’expression française écrite et orale, Presse Universitaire de Grenoble, PFLUG.

  • If you are uncertain about basic grammatical points, the following may be useful:

T. Marriott and M. Ribière, Help Yourself to French Grammar, London: Longman, 1990 (F3.E.48)

  • Although the Department does not adopt a single course book, you may find the grammar sections in the following helpful:

Le Français en faculté: Cours de base, 2nd edition, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1986 (F3.E.44)

  • You will gradually need to get used to consulting French grammars written in French:

G. Mauger, Grammaire pratique du français d’aujourd’hui, langue parlée, langue écrite, Paris: Hachette, 1968 (published under the auspices of the Alliance Française) (F3.E.43)

H. Bonnard, Code du français courant, Paris: Magnard, 1984. (F3.E.52)

J. Ollivier, Grammaire française, 2nd edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1993 (F3.E.45)

  • The French themselves consult Grevisse; you may initially find this difficult to approach, but should find it increasingly helpful during your course:

Maurice Grevisse, Le Bon Usage, 12th edition, revised by André Goosse, Paris & Gembloux: Duculot, 1986 (F3.E.21;22; 30)

I can recommend a book that I used for self-study myself; the book was very good and I felt that it was vital for my progress in the French language.

The book is not in English, it is in French. I had really little French knowledge, yet I was able to learn with this book in self-study mode. So if you have some knowledge of the French language, I guess maybe this could be a good try.

The title was La grammaire des premiers temps from the authors Abry and Chalaron.

This book has since been updated and the title today is La nouvelle grammaire des premiers temps.

I have to admit that I do not know other self study books. This one was a great recommendation I had at that time and I was happy and lucky that the book was perfect for me. The pace, the style the form, everything just suited my learning style.

Having that said, and knowing that each person learns differently, I recommend to first see if one can get hold of an example or copy of the first pages so that one can check if the book is suitable for oneself.

I got the second book (advanced level) once I had finished the first.


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What is the capital of Tunisia?