Monday, April 21, 2014

Gramática Comunicativa del español - the best grammar I've ever seen

"Gramática Comunicativa del español" de Francisco Matte Bon is definitely one of the best grammar books I've ever seen. The set I bought comes in two volumes. It was published in 1995 as "Nueva edición revisada" - a new revised edition. It's written especially for foreigners learning Spanish so it's really a very useful tool for improving the understanding of the way Spanish language works.

As the title of the book says, the author looks at the grammar from a "communicative" point of view. The dynamics of the language and its use is what is most interesting for him. Thus:

  • Volume I with the subtitle "De la lengua a la idea" - presents parts of speech along with their meaning and role in the sentence, here we have nouns, verbs, adjectives, conjugations, declensions etc.
  • Volume II with the subtitle "De la idea a la lengua" - presents the same aspects but from the point of the notions the speaker needs them for. Here we have for example sections that explain how to: express necessity, contrast information, compare things and ideas, establish relations from a temporal point of view, explain a cause, etc.

In my opinion this second part makes this book such a great tool. When I have a doubt how to express something in Spanish I just browse the contents of this volume. I guess this is how the grammar books or textbooks should be written. For a learner the most important thing is to communicate. I should not learn "subjunctive", "imperative", "adjective". I need to know them as tools to communicate, so in case of subjunctive I should learn how to express wishes", in case of imperative - how to give commands, in case of adjectives - how to describe people, things, ideas...

This second volume helps us understand that the parts of the language do not exist for themselves, they are tools for people to communicate. Saying that, I am conscious that studying grammar can also be a fascinating journey, nevertheless I guess that most of us learn a foreign language to communicate with others not to become a scholar in grammar.

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