There are many methods to learn a new language, but reading or at least referring to a good grammar book is an excellent way to come to grasps with some of the more challenging concepts a language can pose.
That said, the complexity of some materials can be off-putting, not only hindering the reader’s ability comprehend grammatical rules but also damaging their confidence rather than boosting it.
This is why we love My Italian Circle‘s handbook ‘Italian Grammar – Concise & Clearly Explained‘. Unlike many other Italian grammar books, it does an excellent job of clearly explaining the complex grammatical rules and principles that form the basis of the Italian language without the wordiness of other resources or too many unnecessary references to technical grammatical terms. As the authors Anna Del Franco and Diana Lavarini state themselves in the introduction:
We do not believe in dumbing down, but we think that sometimes less is more. As we put it, il troppo stroppia (too much of anything is bad) e il meglio è nemico del bene (insistence on perfection often prevents implementation of good improvements).– Anna Del Franco & Diana Lavarini
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The book, which is a very digestible 148 pages long and written in a large, easy-to read font, covers all the most important parts of speech, presented in the standard order found in Italian grammar guides. Each section contains a multitude of example sentences, allowing the reader to see the grammar used in context. The layout is also very attractive – kudos to the graphic designer!
Overall I found it very easy to follow thanks to Anna’s impeccable explanations and ability to simplify even the most difficult of concepts. Whenever a grammatical term is mentioned, it is always well-explained, and if you find yourself in need of a refresher, you can always flip to the helpful grammar glossary at the front.
Throughout the book you will find additional details, exceptions and warnings shared in red text boxes, along with the authors’ personal tips and links to helpful YouTube videos on their channel in green.
I highly suggest checking out these videos, as Anna goes even more in-depth on certain topics and hearing her explain them out loud can reinforce the concepts you’ve learned in the book. Below is an example of one of their most popular grammar videos:
I also appreciate how Anna points out many of the errors common to English learners. For example, in the Nouns section, she explains how la gente (the people) is always singular in Italian, never plural as in English. You really tell just how knowledgeable Anna is, not only about Italian but also English grammar, and that the book has been conceived with the various strengths and weaknesses of English learners in mind.
The only criticism I can make of this book is the lack of English translations for some of the Italian example sentences. An intermediate learner might not have any trouble deciphering the meaning, but a beginner would certainly struggle. Perhaps it was an oversight, or a conscious choice made to keep the book as concise as possible.
Either way, in a future version, it would be great to see all phrases translated for the benefit of those just starting out on their language learning journey.
There is the option to purchase the paperback version (affiliate link) of this book or the less expensive eBook from Kindle (affiliate link). The eBook is in landscape format, while the paperback version is a 7×10″ colour edition.
In conclusion, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants improve their Italian language skills, whether you be preparing for an exam or looking for a handy guide you can always turn to when in doubt.
I know I’m a bit of a language nerd but I truly feel it is the kind of guide you could sit down with in bed and happily read from cover to cover in a few sittings, which isn’t something you can say about most grammar books on the market!
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