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A time-tested method to learning a new language is the grammar book. Reading and writing in books is an efficient way to become familiar with a new language. But some books are more efficient than others. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of French grammar books alone available on the market. With many claiming to be the "best," the "most concise," or the "most complete," picking one book over another can be an overwhelming task. There is also the matter of learning preferences and levels to consider. Regardless of a grammar book's quality, it if isn't tailored to your level it won't be effective.
After a review of dozens of French grammar books, we have identified a range of books as our favorites. These books do not all have the same approach or format, and they target learners ranging from beginner to advanced. This list includes books that we use every day as well as the ones we keep around because they have been so helpful in the past.
Top Grammar Books
- Le Bon Usage:
Originally published in 1936, this is the bible of French grammar-the most thorough French grammar book that exists. It has been republished more than a dozen times and is a must for translators. This is the book that native speakers refer to when they want to understand or explain some aspects of French grammar. (French only)
- Le Petit Grevisse: Previous editions of this very abridged version of Le Bon Usage were called Précis de Grammaire Française. It covers advanced French grammar but is less complicated than its unabridged parent. (French)
- Intermediate French for Dummies: Laura K. Lawless is the author of this workbook that covers high-beginning to intermediate grammar. It includes lessons and practice exercises. (English explanations and bilingual examples)
- Collage: Révision de Grammaire: Although it is nowhere near as thorough as the Grévisse books, Collage's explanations are clearer than those in the books already mentioned in this list. There are also lots of examples and practice exercises. (French explanations and examples with bilingual vocabulary lists)
- Manuel de Composition Française: As the title indicates, this book focuses on helping you improve your French writing skills, but it also includes excellent grammar explanations, with an emphasis on verbs and vocabulary. (French)
- Langenscheidt Pocket French Grammar: This tiny book offers very concise yet detailed explanations of beginning-to-intermediate French grammar that are not easily found elsewhere. It also has sections on effective communication, synonyms, idioms, false cognates, and more. A very handy little book. (English)
- Berlitz French Grammar Handbook: A good reference for upper-beginner level students, this handbook explains basic-to-intermediate French grammar, verbs, and vocabulary. (English)
- Essential French Grammar: This little book de-emphasizes grammar to concentrate on communication, offering just enough grammar to help you work on speaking and understanding French, without getting bogged down in the details. (English)
- English Grammar for Students of French: If you don't know the difference between pronouns and prepositions-in French or English-this is the book for you. It explains French grammar points alongside their English counterparts, using simple language and examples to compare and contrast the grammar in these two languages. It's like a mini-grammar class for French students. (English)