Meta-observation: Firstly, I apologize for posting another question like this one, but most of grammar books related posts give a recommendation of either a general textbook (i.e. not only containing grammar) or a textbook focused on the practical side rather than the rigorous side.

Question: I am looking for suggestions of grammar books that anyone starting studying German can read (i.e. aimed at beginners at start) and that covers up to relatively advanced grammar (i.e. that is complete) in a rigorous way (i.e. aimed at deep understanding rather than just application).

It can be a series of books, but the less the better. Difficulty doesn't matter provided that it gives you everything you need (i.e. it may be difficult to understand because of its completeness, but not because it didn't give a thing you need to understand what is being said), with the exception of vocabulary (I have a dictionary already). I also don't care about "reader-friendliness" — honestly, I even prefer old writing styles.

Thank you and I apologize for any inconvenience.

Edit: Links for some questions I intended to refer to in my first paragraph:

Brief, To the point, no-nonsense German grammar book written in English

Books like "English Grammar in use" for the German language https://german.stackexchange.com/a/24955/45946

Second edit: I forgot to say (but already added to the title) that I have a preference for books without exercises, even though it is not a big deal if it has exercises.

  • Welcome to German.SE. Which posts on German.SE did you find and consider "not so rigorous"? Other than that - for a deep understanding how and why to do, I assume I need to be able to read that language in a practical manner. I just don't know as I never wanted to dig into the finer things of e.g. Englisch Grammar. Thus said: I doubt you have use of these books as long as you need to ask in English. This keeps your question itself valid - I just assume you can dig through (university) library once you achieve that understanding level. K, might be difficult outside of Germany. Sep 11, 2020 at 13:31
  • @ShegitBrahm I just started studying and don't have any grammar, it means that I actually didn't use any grammar yet. However, in no other question the OP specified that he wanted more theory than applications. Yes, the practical side of a language is always important, but the more rigorous too. I may be wrong or just didn't find the right question, but take the following examples of questions I passed through. german.stackexchange.com/q/47708/45946 ; german.stackexchange.com/q/3069/45946 ; german.stackexchange.com/a/24955/45946 .
    – user743574
    Sep 11, 2020 at 13:43
  • 1
    okay, so for your question: please edit it to include your findings. And additionally: the linked answer of "Resources for learning German" is the way to expand as an answer to your question. (which - if it can be done, your question becomes a closable duplicate...) Sep 11, 2020 at 13:50
  • @ShegitBrahm Done. Thank you.
    – user743574
    Sep 11, 2020 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: I haven't read this book about German, but I own the Finnish edition and am very satisfied with it. A quick lookinto a Google preview seems to suggest, that it is the right book for you, too.

German an essential grammar | Google preview


Hammer's German Grammar and Usage. (ISBN - 9781138853713) - A reference book for German grammar written in English. A highly reputed resource and as rigorous as it gets. But its not intended for beginners due to its depth, and being a reference book it is not organised in a sequence normally followed in courses/classes as it will present all the alpha and omega of nouns in one chapter, same for verbs, prepositions and other elements of grammar in their respective chapters.

Essential German Grammar. (ISBN - 9781138785816) - Written by the same authors as Hammer's grammar book and often referred to as "Hammer-lite", this is probably good for beginners as it is smaller in size but still very rigorous and does not shy away from using overly technical terms (copular verbs!!!).

Reference Grammar of German language by Herbert Lederer. (ISBN 978684413297) - This is a book from the 70's written in English and based on the famous German grammar book " Grammatik der Deutschen Sprache" by highly renowned authors and probably the pioneers of German as foreign language learning/teaching era - Heinz Griesbach and Dora Schulz. Hebert Lederer says this in the title of his book. It is difficult to get as the last edition was in 1981.

Modern German: By Kimberley Sparks and Van Horn Vail. (ISBN 9780030657580) - A 600 plus pages, thorough German grammar book in English from the faculty at Middlebury college renowned for its foreign languages department. An excellent textbook beginning from the utter basics (it even defines what a subject is and what an object is) and extending in-depth in very simple language. The last edition was in 1992. Once you complete it, there is a review book from the same authors which is even more famous and called "German in Review" (ISBN - 9780470424292), which as the title says is a review and gets into nitty-gritty of grammar very soon. Very very good, but useful only once you get to intermediate level.

Deutsche Wiederholungsgrammatik: A Morpho-syntactic review of German by Frank Donahue (ISBN - 9780300124682). A comprehensive review of German grammar, thorough and simple from Yale University. Suited from intermediate level onwards.

German: A Structural Approach by Walter Lohnes.(ISBN - 9780393954647) High emphasis on sentence patterns. It is an American coursebook from 70's and 80's era. Hence, It teaches all the fours domains of German language in a single book (characteristic of American textbooks) through progressive units/chapters. The grammar is detailed and in-depth however.

All these are really good, mainly old school, books which fulfill your mentioned requirements and you cannot go wrong with it, provided you have some old school patience and dedication. You can view them for free at archive.org for a few hours or days and buy them at amazon.

BONUS: Modern English: A Practical Reference Guide by Marcella Frank. (ISBN 9780135943182). An out-of-print gem on English grammar from 1972. The last updated edition was in the 90's. This is THE grammar book for English that, I think, an English-speaking aspirant of German language should go through if time and seriousness are not the limiting factors in learning. It's a no-nonsense, technically detailed book of English grammar. The English and German grammar may differ, but the abstract concepts of what a verb is, what a noun is, what do prepositions mean and how do these elements function in a sentence remain more or less the same across languages. This book will create those abstract concepts and ideas of the elements in grammar.

  • Welcome to German.SE. Do you think you could add your books with their ISBN or a link to their publisher's site? Sep 17, 2020 at 19:17

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