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Looking for Spanish grammar reference

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solongsekhu
Newbie
United States
Joined 4718 days ago

17 posts - 17 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese

 
 Message 1 of 10
26 October 2011 at 4:14am | IP Logged 
I just asked something similar about French on this board. I'm thinking about starting Spanish, and I'm looking for a good detailed grammar book, hopefully one covering complete beginner grammar and extending at least up to intermediate (or upper-intermediate/advanced if possible).

I want something that's really in depth with detailed explanations, comparisons of similar grammar structures, and example sentences. It's fine if it's set up like a reference book, but I'm a beginner, so I do need English explanations.

Thanks!
1 person has voted this message useful



tractor
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 5322 days ago

1349 posts - 2292 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, English, Spanish, Catalan
Studies: French, German, Latin

 
 Message 2 of 10
26 October 2011 at 10:22pm | IP Logged 
A very good and comprehensive Spanish grammar is A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish by Butt and
Benjamin. However, it's not aimed at the beginner.
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Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 5652 days ago

781 posts - 1310 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Portuguese, Mandarin, Yiddish, German

 
 Message 3 of 10
27 October 2011 at 12:22am | IP Logged 
My favourite beginners' grammar is in Spanish, a phrase springs to mind about chocolate
teapots. :-(

Edited by Random review on 27 October 2011 at 12:23am

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solongsekhu
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United States
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Studies: Japanese

 
 Message 4 of 10
28 October 2011 at 7:51am | IP Logged 
What's your favorite beginners' grammar then?
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TerryW
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United States
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370 posts - 783 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 5 of 10
28 October 2011 at 10:30am | IP Logged 
Check out "Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice" on Amazon.

Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice

If you click on the "Search inside this book" link under the picture of the book in the top left corner, you can see the text for about the whole book, so for sure you can see if it's what you're looking for.

I have the earlier edition, so I don't know what the included CD is like. I've only used it as a reference on occasion, but it's very nicely organized with examples.

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Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 5652 days ago

781 posts - 1310 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Portuguese, Mandarin, Yiddish, German

 
 Message 6 of 10
28 October 2011 at 8:55pm | IP Logged 
My favourite beginners'grammar: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gramatica-Basica-Del-Estudiante-
Espanol/dp/8484432254/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319828101&sr=8 -1

Edited by Random review on 28 October 2011 at 8:56pm

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Jim2996
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United States
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1 posts - 4 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 7 of 10
28 October 2011 at 9:12pm | IP Logged 
I have many suggestions; I have been where you are.

Butt and Benjamin (mentioned above) is too advanced for a beginner. However, if you are seriously
committed to knowing Spanish it will be indispensable in the future. It does answer any question you could
possibly have. It's a classic, and for good reason. The price is reasonable, and earlier editions dirt cheap. I
have the first and third editions, and there isn't that much difference. The title says "A New Reference
Grammar," but it isn't really new; it's been out since 1988. "Comprehensive" would be a better word to
describe it, but that was already taken.

Manual de Gramatica by Dozier and Iguina is an intermediate/advanced level grammar review book. It's
somewhat the standard, again for good reasons. The price is outrageous, but if you are learning on your own
a earlier edition is fine. I have the second edition.

Buscalo! (Look it Up) was a great help. It's arranged alphabetically, which I don't particularly like, but it is a
list of the most-asked grammar points. I found it easy to browse, an always found something good to know.
You will know that you are an intermediate student when most of it is obvious review.

I never did find any rank beginners' grammar books that I liked. Mostly, any and all courses will teach you
the basic grammar—and there isn't much of it. The second-hardest part I had was getting all the pronouns
and little glue words down. This is almost vocabulary building.

The hard part is the verbs. It's not hard like, say, quantum mechanics, but there is a lot of material to
internalize.

Early on I bought The Big Red Book of Spanish Verbs. It has a 45-page review of verbs in the beginning
which I often referred to. There is also a index to irregular verb forms in the back that was often a Godsend
(who would guess that yendo comes from ir?). If I had it to do over, would get the smaller version. There is
really no need for 555 verbs fully conjugated in all tenses.

Spanish Verb Pack is the best verb book I've found. Isbn 0 19 860340 1. It's published by Oxford. It's not
mentioned on the cover, but it is written by John Butts, the author of the classic grammar book mentioned
above. It's also physically small. I now use it all the time.

The best advice I can give you on the verbs is to concentrate on the sounds of the endings and the sounds of
the vowels that may change in the stems. It's easier to learn the sounds that how to push various letter
combinations around on the end of stems.

Prepositions can be tricky. But any beginners course will get you started, Manual de Gramatica is a good
review, and Butt and Benjamin will tell you everything you need to know.

(Can someone tell me how to get this to not add spurious carriage returns? Or, do I have to figure it out
myself?)





Edited by Jim2996 on 28 October 2011 at 9:17pm

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Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 5652 days ago

781 posts - 1310 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Portuguese, Mandarin, Yiddish, German

 
 Message 8 of 10
30 October 2011 at 2:45am | IP Logged 
I just remembered my favourite beginner's grammar book written in English: Spanish
Grammar Drills (by Rogelio Alonso Vallecillos), don't worry, it contains explanations
as well as drills :-)

While I'm here I'd just like to say that while Butt and Benjamin is absolutely
indispensable, I agree, although (as has been noted above) it is confusing for
beginners (I'm talking from experience, sadly), I don't think it's quite as
comprehensive as all that (at least not the edition I have). Picking an example off the
top of my head I searched in vain for a detailed explanation of how to say "how +
adjective" in sentences like "how big is it". Butt and Benjamin note that this used to
be "cuán" (as in "¿cuán grande es?), and still can be in literary language, but that it
is dead in the spoken language almost everywhere (except for deliberate effect), they
do not however give a detailed explanation of what to use instead (though they do
mention "¿hasta que punto...?"). It seems to be a blind spot in most grammars.

P.D. If anybody doesn't know I found the answer in M. Stanley Whitely's "Spanish
English Contrasts", among other places. Roughly speaking:-

1) The structure is not used nearly as much as in English, we often use it in a less
than literal sense (for instance "how difficult can it be?"), and even if it is
literal, Spanish often prefers a different structure with nouns instead of adjectives:
¿Qué tamaño tiene?
-most famously when asking how old someone is- "how many years do you have?"!

When it IS used:

2) In Spain and some parts of Latin America: ¿Cómo es de grande?

3) In Mexico and some parts of Latin America (and spreading): ¿Qué tan grande es?

I think that (2) is correct (though not necessarily used) everywhere (though I may be
wrong).

Points (1) and (2) are taught in the Vallecillos book I mentioned, the only BEGINNER'S
book I know of that does so.



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