I love grammar. Of course I realise when learning a new language you need to communicate, practise speaking, gain confidence, absorb and retrieve phrases. But if you’re going to get to any reasonable level you do have to tackle grammar at some stage. Myself, I’ve always preferred to tackle it head on, from the start. One of my most treasured books from my schooldays is the 1971 edition of Teach Yourself French Grammar (with a 45 pence price tag inside). I remember buying it and literally reading it from cover to cover – in awe of its power. Then I read it again and again over subsequent months but the message shouted out to me on first encounter: master the grammar and you can master the language.
So I had high hopes of a similar experience when I ordered Teach Yourself Russian Grammar (You Really Need to Know) by Daphne West And I haven’t been disappointed! It’s much longer than its French counterpart, but in the few months since I began learning Russian I can see why. (If this is the length of the ‘Grammar you really need to know’ book, I wonder how long the ‘All the grammar that exists’ book is? 🙂 )
What I appreciate about the book is that everything is clearly explained with exercises for you to do at regular intervals. The exercises are short and although they are usually of the matching, gap-fill or complete the endings types, I just did a crossword on irregular plurals – timely, as we did plurals in our Russian class yesterday. I don’t think Russian plurals are any more challenging than German plurals really – and as for the irregular plurals – well – you just need to memorise them. End of.
Although it’s not essential to know why, for example, the word for sugar (сахар) changes when you have your coffee WITH sugar (c caxapom) or WITHOUT sugar (без сахара) to me, it actually helps you retain the words if you understand the reasons behind the variations.
So I’m on page 26 of 274 (not including the answers to the exercises) Wish me luck 🙂