It introduces German people and culture through the medium of the
language used today, covering the core material which students would
expect to encounter in their first years of learning German.
Presentation of grammar
German grammar in clear and simple
language. The format is easily accessible and grammar topics follow a progression, which moves from simple aspects to more complex features. For
more in-depth study, there are cross-references to related grammar items.
Structure of units
There are 28 units. Each unit covers one key grammar topic, which is contrasted with English structures where appropriate. Each topic starts out with
This is followed by detailed explanation in an easy-to-follow
step-by-step layout, breaking down complex aspects into simple segments.
Examples in English and German illustrate each point and introduce relevant
Checklists and exercises
Integrated exercises allow immediate practice to consolidate each grammar
point. Exercises are varied and progress from simple recognition to more
complex application of grammar points.
Using the book as a grammar reference
Unit headings indicate which grammar point is covered, and the glossary
provides clear definitions and simple explanations of key grammatical terms.
When appropriate, cross-references are provided within units.
Unit 1 highlights some basic principles where the structures of German are
fundamentally different from English. It explains their characteristics in
simple terms and draws attention to underlying patterns. Extra tips on how
to learn a language and learning specific grammar points are provided in this
unit and throughout the book.
Learning German is often perceived as difficult. In 1880, Mark Twain
famously dubbed it ‘the awful German language’, protesting ‘Surely there is
not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and
elusive to the grasp’ (Mark Twain, ‘The awful German language’, The Tramp
Abroad, 1880 (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1997), pp. 390–402).
If you approach the language step by step you will find that it is much
easier than you may think at the beginning. Here are pointers to some basic
principles where German is different from English, and which may be useful
before you start out with the grammar proper.
German is one of the few languages which uses capital letters not only at
the beginning of sentences but also within sentences. In English, this applies
only to proper names, to the personal pronoun ‘I’ and to personifications,
such as ‘Love’.
In German, al.