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Hammer's German Grammar and Usage, 4Ed Paperback – 31 May 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 4 edition (31 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071396543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071396547
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 3.3 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,500,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Martin Durrell's Hammer's Grammar and Usage goes from strength to strength. This book is easily the best German grammar book in the English language on the market. Furthermore, if you aspire to be a translator, then this is the book for you. The book is divided into 23 chapters, dealing with some of the most complicated grammatical issues in the German language. First of all, Durrell explains very well the compicated 'Konjunktiv I' and 'Konjunktiv II', a grammatical issue which many native English speakers find difficult to understand. To make it easier for the reader to understand the gramatical issues and the contexts in which they are used, he has taken examples from books and newspaper articles. Furthermore, Durrell translates the examples which he has taken from these articles into English, which helps the reader immensely. In this way, the reader can refer to the book and the particular example when translating a text. Finally, Durrell explains exceptionally well the modal particles, which before buying this book, I had great difficulty in understanding. Plus, the author points out the pitfalls, the 'do's and don'ts' in German. In conclusion, this book is very well put together and a great resource for students of German and aspiring translators. Durrell deals with every grammatical issue in German, whether easy or difficult. I recommend this book very, very highly.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 20 reviews
113 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for All Intermediate and Advanced Students 2 Dec. 2006
By Herr Doktor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a grad student who teaches elementary German. Born and raised in the U.S., I learned German as a second language. I've exhausted the grammars I own, but I know that there are still many constructions and subtleties I've never learned. This has become more apparent as I've worked in a department filled with Muttersprachler.

The reviews for Hammer's grammar made it sound perfect for my needs. They were right on! This grammar is 550 pages of DETAILED explanations illustrated by many helpful examples. I've only just begun the first chapter (less than ten pages) and I've already learned invaluable information.

Did you know, for example, that the gender of 80% of all German nouns can be determined just by looking at the form and/or meaning of the noun? I knew of a dozen or so clues, but after working through these first pages I have learned many, many more and am much more confident with using nouns I know for which I've never memorized the article. Only 20% of nouns actually need to have their gender memorized. I'm now working through similar tips for determining the plurals, which are equally easy to determine just by looking at the noun - once you know how.

There is also a small section tucked away in a corner that explains how to determine whether one uses an, auf, in, zu, or nach as a preposition to indicate going "to" a location. I thought these also just had to each be memorized for each possible case. Nope, it's very logical and this book will explain it to you along with countless other details that will bring your German much closer to a native level (like whether to use genitive, "von", or apposition in measurement phrases).

Now, if this is nothing new to you, Hammer might still be helpful (though if your German is really great and you only have problems that natives have, you probably just need to work through the various volumes put out by Duden). I know I've never learned this stuff, and I certainly don't teach it in my college courses. Hammer's grammar is likely too much for beginners (a bit like drinking out of a fire hydrant), but its perfect for intermediate and advanced learners who have questions that have just never been answered by their textbooks or by the grad students who teach them.

Also, the workbook is the newest edition, matching the grammar, even though the image here on Amazon is from the older edition (at least at the time that I am writing this). It has excellent exercises, and I do recommend it. For rounding out your vocab, I recommend Cambridge UP's "Using German Vocabulary." It is far more exhaustive than the vocab books by Baron and others.

EDIT: I wrote this review in December of 2006 and it is now November of 2009. This grammar has proven to be indispensable. I have read it cover to cover multiple times now and refer to it consistently as both a student and teacher of German.

As far as the discussion on the index and cross-referencing here in the reviews is concerned: I think they are both great. They make it so easy to find anything I have a question about quickly. In three years, I have not yet been let down by the index and can find what I need in at most 30 seconds. The table of contents has also proven to be useful as I've gotten more familiar with the book and need to find a specific point quickly.

Hammer's has also proven to be very useful for producing translations in my academic writing. The section discussing all of the subtle shades of meaning added by modal particles has been especially useful in accurately rendering the nuances of the original (modal particles are words that add expression or attitude like auch when it doesn't mean "also," ja when it doesn't mean "yes," or doch; there are 36 of them). In many other respects Hammer's helps me produce accurate translations when unabridged dictionaries let me down.

I've only grown in appreciation of Hammer's thoroughness and its clarity. Every serious student of German should own a copy.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book I Want On A Desert Island 28 April 2009
By Howard C. Sun - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is hands-down the single book I would want to have if stranded on a desert island. Words cannot describe the awesomeness that is this book. Mr. Durrell's masterpiece demands superlatives. As far as printed material goes, this is all you need to go from intermediate to fluent in German. (Of course you still need to practice speaking, listening, and writing to become fluent). I am a U.S. citizen now living in Germany, and this book vastly improved my German. I can't say enough about it. Get it! Keep a copy next to your bed and review a chapter before you sleep. What makes it so good? It's comprehensive without being watered down. It's dense and succinct without lacking necessary examples. It's accurate - I have impressed native speakers with my command of German word usage learned from this book. Simply wonderful!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leitfaden der deutschen Grammatik 27 Nov. 2007
By Scott W. Brians - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I commenced learning German in college and concluded with enough credits to earn a minor. Two summers were spent in Germany taking intensive German language classes (Munich and Mannheim), while two additional summers were spent working as an intern with Deutsche Telekom in Frankfurt. Upon concluding my Masters in EE, I married a German and subsequently lived in Germany for 10 years. For 5 of those years I was general manager of my own consulting company. All of our business was in German.

Inspite of this background, on any given page of this manual, there are tips and tricks to assist me in refining my language skills. This book has it. If it is not there, you in all likelyhood don't need to know it. The themes are logically laid out. Any and every topic is easy to find. This book is highly recommended. Beginners should not resist having this gold mine in his library.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your first and last German grammar reference 25 Sept. 2006
By A. J. Christian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been using Hammer's Grammar (3rd Ed. and now 4th) since I first began learning German and have never been disappointed. It's extremely thorough and provides crystal clear explanations of all points, though most beginners would probably find it to be a bit of information overload if they were trying to use this as their sole instructional text for grammar.

If you're studying German, you have to purchase this book; there's no debate. Even if you're a beginner and some of it might seem a little "too" detailed, you'll find yourself more and more glad that you have it there as your German improves.
5.0 out of 5 stars Hammer is a knockout ! 2 Dec. 2014
By Kaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hammer is the best German Grammar that I have come across. I used to use it when writing to relatives in Germany.I gave my last copy to a grandson in college and he consults it instead of an assigned textbook.
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