What's the best German Grammar Book?

Understand the German Grammar

A woman sitting on a few giant books and reading
The best German grammar books and resources. Purvey Joshi-Moment@getty-images

Let's face it: German Grammar Hurts

but only if it is explained in a lousy way. I make a living of explaining grammar in a crispy and understandable way and the feedback is amazing. I love the German grammar. It's so much simpler than the English one. Let's not even look at the French or Eastern European languages. "But you are a German teacher!", you might say. Sure. But the beauty of the German grammar is universal.

In the following I will introduce to you books that I have found myself useful or extracted from many many forum-posts and that have been considered as the best books and resources on German grammar out there. I will nevertheless keep the number of books and resources small as too much choice is also If you have any other recommendation just let me know and I'll review it and get back to you.

Here we go:

Hammer's German Grammar and Usage

A few excerpts from the reviews:

Fantastic help and every para(graph) is directly useful
Excellent grammar for students of German
Detailed and comprehensive reference for the serious student

Although I have no first hand experience, I've heard and read about Hammer's German Grammar several times in the last years from experienced German learners. It certainly is worth a look. Also available for the Kindle.

 

Schaum's Outline of German Grammar

Almost mentioned as often as the Hammer's above, Schaum's German grammar seems to be the first choice of successful German learners.

 

 

Lehr- Und Ubungsbuch Der Deutschen Grammatik

I learned most of my grammar from this book. It's an excellent resource, with exercises and answer key (you'd have to purchase that one extra, but without it, the other book is rather useless). B

 

smarterGerman

I think you should only go for these books if you are not afraid to handle a couple of technical terms of grammar speak.

If you are looking for a guide that uses rather normal language I can only recommend my own work (that link leads to a playlist on youtube with 37 free German grammar videos). I'm sorry to self-advertise here so bluntly, but I haven't found anything comparable yet. If you know anything, please let me know and I'll add it here instantly. 

 

Canoo

My second resource of information when it comes to German grammar. Canon explains the German grammar in English language which is crucial for beginners. Don't buy a grammar book or other resource that explains the German grammar solely in German. That's just ridiculous as grammar is a far too complex matter to be taught in a language that you don't understand fully yet.

 

Übung macht den Meister

Schubert-Verlag-Online

Last but not least a resource which allows you to exercise the grammar that you have learned from any of the resources above a bit deeper. The Schubert-Verlag runs a really neat homepage with lots of exercises sorted according to the language level. I usually use my browser's search function to find a grammatical topic like e.g. Adjektiv or Relativ. As the topics are named in German you need to know the German name of the topic that you are planning to practice.

You could also just work your way through that page. The "Internet-Aufgaben" are rather useless, you can ignore these.

For those of you who still like the feel of paper here just one of many exercise books but this one is by a renowned German publishing house. From my experience the practice books are good quality:

Großes Übungsbuch Deutsch by Hueber

Rather for exercising your German grammar than for learning it. And trust me, you can't exercise your grammar too much. 

 

Achtung! Eine Warnung.

As often as I read good recommendations, I have seen really bad ones. The worst you could go for is a book that they use in language classrooms. Those books are very thin when it comes to grammar explanations (in the worst case they explain it in German) and they are made for group and partner work but not for self learners.

Stay away from these. They are already boring in a classroom environment. Online courses like Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta Stone or Busuu are lovely programs from a technical point of view. They have invested a lot of sweat and money into their development. But as grammar resource they all fail bitterly. See them as games and add-ons to your other efforts, if you feel like it. You can also save your money when it comes to books like 501 German verbs. The German conjugation -the change of verbs according to person, mood or tense- is pretty regular or really easy to learn and to predict once learned. Those books usually collect dust very soon after their purchase.


Conclusion

You see I'm very critical when it comes to learning material. I think the material matters most when one learns on his or her own. You need to enjoy the learning process and that is strongly supported by a well structured and thought through grammar book or resource. We all want to understand and not understanding frustrates us. Make sure you get the right material and the right tutor or online-course that provides you with a good learning experience but at the same time also leads to visible progress. 

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Schmitz, Michael. "What's the best German Grammar Book?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 28, 2017, thoughtco.com/best-german-grammar-book-1444492. Schmitz, Michael. (2017, February 28). What's the best German Grammar Book? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/best-german-grammar-book-1444492 Schmitz, Michael. "What's the best German Grammar Book?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/best-german-grammar-book-1444492 (accessed January 19, 2018).