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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight to the Point
Do not be deterred by "Grammar" in the title. This book is not about rules (although they are all here) and does not require an English grammarian to make sense of it. It is about making making full use of a wonderful language.
There is neither a wasted word nor an omission. Each item is expressed clearly and concisely so that your understanding grows...
Published on November 27, 2000 by Angus Bearn

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but too informal; not systematic enough for reference
I guess I understimated the "practical" part :-) -- the book is very informal; easy to read, understandable, yes: but I wouldn't mind some tables. I'd say this book is good to read from cover to cover, linearly, like if you've never known any of it; it's suitable for the very first exposure. But I bought it for a review -- and as a reference it's seems a bit awkward. Take...
Published on July 4, 2006 by J Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight to the Point, November 27, 2000
By 
Angus Bearn (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Do not be deterred by "Grammar" in the title. This book is not about rules (although they are all here) and does not require an English grammarian to make sense of it. It is about making making full use of a wonderful language.
There is neither a wasted word nor an omission. Each item is expressed clearly and concisely so that your understanding grows effortlessly. This is equally true if you are revising your knowledge of the present tense, or want to know how to persuade, argue, dramatise, admit, criticise and so forth. A substantial and worthwhile book which at a stoke eliminates all the odd notes you thought of keeping. There are no exercises and, to be honest, the strength of this book lies in its assumption that you are capable of teaching yourself. Not, perhaps, for an absolute beginner for that reason - although all the French is translated. Rather, it is for the student with at least a rudimentary knowledge of the language looking to develop their communication and authority. Leave it around, dip in and out. Having suffered through the pages of dozens of itchy French books which tried to be interesting, I have at last found one that doesn't bother and is all the better for it - a companionable volume written by gifted teachers.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but too informal; not systematic enough for reference, July 4, 2006
This review is from: Modern French Grammar: A Practical Guide (Modern Grammars) (Paperback)
I guess I understimated the "practical" part :-) -- the book is very informal; easy to read, understandable, yes: but I wouldn't mind some tables. I'd say this book is good to read from cover to cover, linearly, like if you've never known any of it; it's suitable for the very first exposure. But I bought it for a review -- and as a reference it's seems a bit awkward. Take for example the index, it's too small, it needs to be ten times larger, I can't find anything in it.

Another thing: even though it's not a French book and it's written in English, it would have probably made sense to keep terminology French (even just mentioning it, in parallel, in addition sort of thing, would be helpful); here's why: suppose I need to string a bunch of tenses together and I forgot how to; so in that case my automatic procedure is to go to the index and find the "concordance des temps" there; then go where it is and see a stack of tables where I find the relevant rule; done. But here you'll search for "concordance des temps" in vain -- not only in the index, but in the whole book itself. When I need a form in passe simple, the word "passe simple" is what I need to be able to find; I can't sit around guessing what the English for "passe simple" happens to be. "Historic past"? I want my passe compose and plus que parfait; I mostly know *what* I need, I just don't remember what it *is*, you see. I feel that the authors' straining to be very friendly makes the book actually less so at times.

Some things are expressed carelessly: for example, in the section on accents it is said that the accent aigu may indicate that there's an 's' in the English equivalent. Don't get me wrong: bringing up the underlying idea *is* good: it's the way that it's stated that I find confusing: it appears as if a French sign were used to signify something in English, which is nonsense. If you decide to bring this up (which, again, is a good idea), you gotta really explain the situation, saying something to the effect that the presence of this totally French and wholly un-English sign sometimes indicates that there's a dropped 's' compared with the original LATIN root, and that IF there's an English COGNATE, then, English being more respectful of Latin roots, the letter dropped in French is likely to still be present in English, viz. "escape" vs "echapper".

Well all right, one can always find flaws, so I shut up -- overall it's not a bad book: it's clear and concise and adequate as a first-ever text; it's well put together too (I've found only one typo: "up" instead of "un" in one of examples); even though I'm having a mild case of buyer's remorse, I'll probably keep it. Though I'll probably have to buy something more systematic in addition.

Followup: I got me Le Petit Grevisse in addition -- and, if you can read French, I recommend you go for it first (and probably instead): it is written precisely in the format the lack of which in Modern French Grammar I talked about above. Costs about the same; can be had online from Renaud-Bray in Canada, or FNAC in France. Matter of fact, maybe Amazon carries it too, I don't know. It's not an exact equivalent, but to my taste, it's a better book; I wish I bought it first.
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Modern French Grammar: A Practical Guide (Modern Grammars)
Modern French Grammar: A Practical Guide (Modern Grammars) by Margaret Lang (Paperback - August 15, 2004)
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