Modern German Grammar. A Practical Guide is an innovative reference grammar designed to be used with modern approaches to teaching and learning German as a foreign language. The book addresses learners’ practical needs by combining a detailed description of the grammatical structures of German with a ‘functional’ approach to language. By functions we mean the specific uses to which we can put language in order to communicate effectively in particular situations: e.g. apologizing, accepting or declining an invitation, expressing regret, voicing an opinion or casting doubt on something.

The book is intended for all those who have a basic knowledge of German, including undergraduates taking German as a major or minor part of their studies, as well as intermediate and advanced students in both schools and adult education. It will also prove an invaluable resource for teachers seeking back-up to syllabuses organized around functions, or designers of German language courses and syllabuses in all sectors of education.

Before using the book the reader is advised to refer to pp. xi–xii on ‘How to use this book’. There are two main parts. Part A (sections 1–59) provides a detailed description of the structures of modern German, and is in this respect quite close to being a ‘traditional’ grammar. The explanations given in Part A are supported by a detailed glossary of grammatical terms which assumes no previous grammatical training. In contrast, the larger Part B (sections 60–121) focuses on functions, explaining and illustrating the appropriate use of German in particular contexts, the specific ideas the learner wishes to express and the concrete situations in which he or she is likely to wish to use them.


There is a comprehensive index at the back of the book. This is a very important section as the detailed entries on functions, structures and grammatical terminology allow the reader to approach the language in more than one way: he or she can either look up how to express a particular function or seek information on how a certain aspect of the language works. Having located the required function (e.g. ‘Attracting attention in a dangerous situation’ 90.1), the learner is referred to relevant structures in Part A (e.g. ‘Use of Subjunctive II’). This approach avoids the difficulties learners have with traditional grammars, where, faced with expressing something in German, they frequently do not know which structure(s) they need to look up. In this book, the grammatical structures needed to perform the function successfully are highlighted in Part B and can be checked more fully in Part A. An extensive system
of cross-references within and between the two major parts of the book provides further information which the user may find helpful, especially when consulting individual functions.