Top French Grammar Books for Language Learners

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There are hundreds, maybe thousands of French grammar books available, each claiming to be the "best," the "most concise," the "most complete," etc. Obviously they can't all be the best and one of them must, by definition, be the worst. How do you know which is which? After a review of dozens of French grammar books, we have identified our favorites. These books are the ones we use every day and the ones we keep around because they have been so helpful.

Top Grammar Books

  1. 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 aspect of French grammar. (French only)
  2. Le Petit GrevissePrevious 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)
  3. Intermediate French for DummiesLaura K. Lawless is the author of this workbook which covers high-beginning to intermediate grammar, including lessons and practice exercises. (English explanations and bilingual examples)
  4. Collage: Révision de grammaireAlthough it is nowhere near as thorough as the Grévisse books above, Collage's explanations are clearer. In addition, there are lots of examples and practice exercises. (French explanations and examples with bilingual vocabulary lists)
  1. Manuel de composition françaiseAs the title indicates, this book focuses on helping you to improve your French writing skills, but it also includes excellent grammar explanations, with an emphasis on verbs and vocabulary. (French)
  2. Langenscheidt Pocket French GrammarThis tiny book offers very concise yet detailed explanations of beginning-to-intermediate French grammar, including some excellent explanations that I have never found anywhere else. It also has sections on effective communication, synonyms, idioms, false cognates, and more. A very handy little book. (English)
  3. Berlitz French Grammar HandbookA good reference for upper-beginning students, this handbook explains basic-to-intermediate French grammar, verbs, and vocabulary. (English)
  4. Essential French GrammarThis little book de-emphasizes grammar in order 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)
  5. English Grammar for Students of FrenchIf 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)