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on 25 September 2008
This is easily the best German Grammar book around. It got me through my German degree at Oxford and I just couldn't put it down. For anyone interested in grammar, it's a must have and I still read it for pleasure because of the wonderful detail that Durrell goes into. Yes, it may be difficult, but if you understand this book, you are well on your way to achieving a fantastic standard in German Grammar. I love it!!!
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on 11 November 2010
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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on 16 October 2003
I've used this book for a couple of years and it is indeed very comprehensive, with full explanations of vitually all aspects of German grammar, from the basic to the extremely advanced. The examples are useful and in most cases the temptation to slip into linguistic jargon is avoided. It is not an easy read however and a reasonable knowledge of the grammatical terms is definitely required, although factual it is very dry and pretty hard-going.
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on 19 January 2010
This might be regarded as the 'Bible' for German grammar. As one might expect from such a description it is comprehensive and thus can be a 'challenge' for beginners (like me!). However,to be thoughly recommended for all students.It takes one through topic by topic with clear explanations and plenty of examples of the point being made.
Those new to the language would be advised to have less advanced material on hand to lead them into Hammer for example,Collins Easy Learning German GrammarThis is another excellent book but more suited to beginners. The introduction suggests that it would suit GCSE students.
Oh, and if you are old enough to have been taught English grammar and old enough to have forgotten it,buy,English Grammar for Students of German: The Study Guide for Those Learning German (English Grammar Series)Ashamed to say mine is well used!!
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on 11 October 2005
I would agree with the other posters that this is not for the novice, but it does have a glossary which is very useful. It does seem to be quite tough to understand at times, but usually coming back to it after a day or two away makes it sink in. There are a vast number of rules, and these can get a touch ridiculous at times (as someone pointed out it isn't THAT essential that German girls would say such and such on the last Thursday of October if they had been to university in Munich.
I would also recommend the shorter version, The Essential Grammar.
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on 14 December 2010
It's easy to get drawn into buying various smaller books dedicated to German grammar principles, but this book has it all. Don't waste time and money investing in the odd book here and there, choose Hammer's German Grammar and Usage - it covers all your needs! Brilliant value for money and a definite must for university students of German.
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on 20 January 2016
This book has proved very useful. The explanations are clear and well set out; they are under titles and subtitles making everything easy to find. The subject matter is very detailed, which means that some explanations are mentioned in one page and explained elsewhere in the book - however the page number is always marked.

Some explanations could do with the German explanation rather than the English - or both.

Overall however the book is well presented and useful, especially for those who, like me, have not learned any English grammar and have studied little German grammar previously.
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on 10 November 2010
The most definitive grammar book I have ever used! Some of it has perhaps a little too much information, but I guess that that may be useful at the highest levels. Enough for everyone serious about learning German.
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on 29 April 2011
This German grammar book was strongly recommended to me at university by a German lecturer and I wouldn't look back. German grammar is extremely complicated and this book explains concepts clearly, making them manageable to understand. I would recommend it to both beginners and more advanced German students.
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on 23 December 2010
At last I have found a comprehensive tool to improve my German. It is very well laid out yet simply organised Time will tell as to whether it actually improves my German which is, alas, of a 40 year A-level vintage, infrequently used. Thanks for the Grammar, Hammer!
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