Finnish: An Essential Grammar (Routledge Essential Grammars) Paperback – 28 Nov 2007
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I would just add that this is more of an aid to other books and not a method to learn. What I mean by this is that the traditional method of learning basic sentences is still important but to truly understand how and why words change, this book gives a very clear explanation.
This book is at times even better than my Finnish teacher because it has a rule and explanation for all grammatical constructions (except advanced level); not that my teacher was bad at all but because there are so many complicated rules that bear no resemblance to English grammar that sometimes one can forget or get confused explaining!
Oh and best of luck learning Finnish, unless you have a natural knack for the language; it is the most difficult language I've attempted (though I've been told Manadarin/Japanese are the only languages more difficult!)
Finnish is a fiendishly difficult language for an English speaker to learn, and any book review or discussion of the subject must always bear that in mind - it would be unfair to blame books for the peculiarities of the language. That said, I started to dabble in Finnish in the early 1980s to impress a then (Finn) girlfriend. I failed dismally on all counts, as my start point was the old blue and yellow Teach Yourself book which is terrible, as were most of them at the time (buying a second hand one of these today will be a complete waste of money, I assure you). I later tried again (err, negative girlfriend!) with the 1993 edition of Teach yourself Finnish, which is available in updated form and which I would recommend Teach Yourself Complete Finnish (TY Complete Courses). If you are a linguist who prefers grammatical explanation to the 'repeat seven times and it will stick' approach - in other words, you want to get to grips with the structure of the language, with why something is said in the way it is, and not simply learn phrases - then the TY book does not go far enough and you'll find this Routledge Essential Grammar great to use in parallel with the TY (or other) course. This new (2008) edition also contains many internet addresses for on-line learning and, especially, pronunciation exercises... all this is a vast improvement on what we have had to live with until relatively recently.
But lately, it's just confused and infuriated me to the point where I can't be bothered learning Finnish anymore. Perhaps it's just me, but I find it uses too many complex sentences when trying to explain things, which is even more confusing, because it takes one confusing idea, and explains it with loads of confusingly-used terminology (Not that I'm a dunce...I do know a lot of the terminology such as Nominative, postmodifiers, intensifiers, etc...) which means that by the end of the paragraph I want to tear my hair out.
It's also annoying that it lacks simplified explanations or ways of remembering things. For example, I was trying to study sentence order earlier, but instead of having a clear 'Adverbs go in Time, Manner, Place' order, or 'In 'että' clauses, verbs go to the end of the clause' (For example), it went off on explanations that are hard ot pay attention to, much less understand.
What makes it worse is the lack of exercises, which would clarify things better than those run-on sentences. I know that I cna use my Teach Yourself Finnish for this, but the grammar in that book's spread out all over the place so trying to find one particular piece is difficult and boring.
However, there's no other Finnish grammar books available in English (That I know of), so it's just one tha thas to be bought and wept over, I suppose.
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