Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it's confusing, but I love it., 11 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: Hammer's German Grammar and Usage, 4Ed (Paperback)
My review relates to the Third Edition.

I do like this book, and tend to dip into it, and get lost in it (in a positive and less positive sense). Yes, as others have indicated, it can be confusing. There always seem to be exceptions, and exceptions to the exceptions, etc, etc.
But I suppose that is the nature of the German language, and indeed all language.

Having inadvertently bought a second copy of the third edition (thinking it was an updated edition), I put off buying the fourth edition ( even when I knew it was definitely available), although I have now very belatedly just ordered it. I will be interested to see whether he has corrected the serious error I have found (or think I have found), on page 25, table 1.3: the article for the feminine Genitive and Dative plural (with the noun "Frauen" in this example):

Shouldn't that be the same as the other plurals, viz. "Der" and "Den" respectively?

(As correctly shown (I think) on page 61, table 4.1).

I wonder if that is one of the two errors that another reviewer refers to.

I dare say I will eventually buy the 5th edition when it comes out.
I seem to be something of a Martin Durrell junkie, having also got the Workbook, and the book of German Synonyms.

The "Essential German Grammar" had passed me by, but having had a look at it online and at the reviews, it seems to fill very usefully an important niche.

Speaking of errors, I was rather shocked to find a seemingly glaring error in another grammar book by a different author (Fehringer). One wonders how these sort of errors can get through. It must be incredibly confusing to the beginner (which I am not, although it can also be confusing to me!).

EDIT/UPDATE: 13th Nov 2010: Having now received the 4th edition, the following comments relate to the 4th edition in comparison with the 3rd:

Yes, the error on page 25 has been corrected (page 27 of the 4th edition), so that's good. I also like the aside about "weak masculine nouns", which are so called "for no good reason" :-)

I have not had time to absorb much else of the content yet, but here I must make a comment about the legibility of this version. In short, it is less legible and less of a pleasure to read for that reason, at least for those eternal students among us who are getting on a bit. It's not too bad by daylight, but in artifical light... The asides following "N.B." (which which the book is liberally endowed) are printed in a TINY typeface size, which coupled with the rather anaemic quality of the printing, is not a pleasure to read.

They have also combined the index of German words, the index of English words, and the subject index, all into one. There may be pros and cons to this, but again, I find it somewhat less legible (no bold type for subject headings, for example).

When I was looking at it online, using the "Look Inside" feature of this site, I noticed that all the tables used what appeared to be a blueish background for the headings and some other fields. I see that in print, this background is rendered as a sort of sooty grey, so we have black printing on a sooty grey background. Not good for legibility. At least they haven't fallen for the trap of "let's use all the colour we can" which seems to befall the producers of modern textbooks for the younger market, and which is almost always at the cost of legibility.
Well, the old Hammer was perhaps a bit dull, but legible. Now it's still dull, but less legible :-(

Perhaps I will get used to it, buy a new pair of glasses, and/or get some more powerful reading lamps, and of course, the mainly young students at whom it is principally aimed, will not, for the most part, have much trouble with the legibility issues (wait till you get past forty or so though, ladies and gentlemen, then you'll see what I mean! :-) ). However, I think I will use the feedback webpage to make the point, possibly in time to try to ensure that the same sort of thing does not occur with the 5th edition!
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