Best French grammar app or book?
June 1, 2012 5:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm relearning French and I would like a really good workbook/program that focuses on grammar. I have vocabulary and pronounciation fine (Mindsnacks & Anki, Pimsleur and Michael Thomas) and I'm practicing reading and writing with several texts and I keep tripping up on half-remembered grammatical rules, and I really want something I can work through at my own pace. I would much prefer an app with built-in drills, but I'll buy a workbook/textbook as well. I want something like Chapter 7: Passive verbs, Chapter 8: Interrogatives with an explanation of the rules, examples and then drills. Not a complete French course, but just grammar.
posted by viggorlijah to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
I really like Contrastes: Grammaire du français courant. It's pretty much exactly what you describe.
posted by theodolite at 5:53 AM on June 1, 2012

I am learning Italian, and someone recommended the BBC Italian Grammar guide, and it is really excellent. I picked it up used off of Amazon for a few bucks, and it has been a great resource.

The BBC makes a French grammar book as well; can't vouch for it, but if it's anything like the Italian version, it would be very useful, and is laid out exactly the way you describe.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:59 AM on June 1, 2012

Do you have a Bescherelle - La grammaire? Your description is essentially what they are, and meant for French students in French school (studying their own language). It is entirely in French, but that has its upsides, since you'll learn the French terms for grammatical points, which can be very helpful when English terms are approximate due to non-identical uses.
posted by fraula at 6:09 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

For a basic grammar that's fun (especially if you are open to humor that inclines toward the juvenile), I'd recommend Jean-Louis Fournier's Grammaire française et impertinente, available as a cheap paperback. ( or ship cheaply to the US.)

If you have basic grammar and are running up against more complicated problems, it is very hard to beat A. Vercollier et al., Difficultés expliquées du français...for English speakers. This book gives an overview of grammatical difficulties with an emphasis on those areas where English speakers tend to make mistakes due to the differences between French and English grammar. It has exercises; buy the corrigés if you want to check yourself.

Both of these are in French. If your vocabulary is good, that shouldn't be a problem.
posted by brianogilvie at 6:40 AM on June 1, 2012

I have been using The Ultimate French Review and Practice, and I think it fits your description of the kind of grammar review you need. Sorry I don't have a link (I'm typing on my phone), but it's easily searched on Amazon.
posted by matildaben at 7:03 AM on June 1, 2012

Schaum's French Grammar for Kindle: Voilà.

I used to teach French for adults; they loved this book because it was concise and explained the rules in terms they found straightforward. It's structured exactly like what you described. Answers at the back.
posted by gohabsgo at 7:06 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also like the Ultimate French Review and Practice. Lots of exercises, with explanations of the rules (explanations are in French).
posted by mskyle at 7:53 AM on June 1, 2012

Thirding The Ultimate French Review and Practice. The CD it comes with includes drills. Also, I LOVE Learn French By Podcast, you you listen to a text twice and then grammar and vocabulary elements are discussed. The podcasts are free but you have to buy the pdfs that accompany each lesson but they're only $1 each. It's well worth it.

There's also French Today. She sells oral verb drills, it's repetition of certain verbs in all moods and tenses. The point is to get you to be able to quickly use the plus-que-parfait for mettre, for example, without hesitation. (You know that conjugation pause we all do that slows us down when trying to speak or write.) They're kinda pricey. Her slogan is 'repetition is the key' and the idea is to learn by rote the key French verbs in all moods and tenses so that you can conjugate without thought, the same way you do in your native language. It's not grammar per se, because it's just verbs but these are key verbs.
posted by shoesietart at 8:45 AM on June 1, 2012

I learned a lot of my college French through the UT Austin site, which is adorable and has the best drills I have seen anywhere.
posted by kettleoffish at 10:06 AM on June 1, 2012

I had great results with the Practice Makes Perfect workbooks: I used Complete French Grammar and Advanced French Grammar to review/cram for a placement exam and I did SHOCKINGLY well. The Advanced one was especially helpful.
posted by désoeuvrée at 7:07 PM on June 1, 2012

I used Breaking the Spanish Barrier which has a French equivalent.
posted by oceano at 6:57 PM on June 2, 2012

Response by poster: I'm not marking any of these as best because every single answer was useful - I bought or borrowed all of them, and am working through Schaums and Ultimate right now. Thank you so much!
posted by viggorlijah at 10:11 PM on June 24, 2012

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