The 6 best grammar books for French learners

The 6 best grammar books for French learners

by Anne-Lise Vassoille

Updated August 7, 2023

There’s no escaping it: You won’t be able to master French if you don’t study and practice its grammar. The grammar checkers available online can help you to a certain extent, especially with written tasks. However, a solid understanding and confident application of French grammar rules will benefit you the most in the long run. Thankfully, there are plenty of books you can get to learn and practice French grammar, from the most basic rules to the most complex ones. To help you find the perfect French grammar book, we have handpicked six titles to suit all levels and needs.

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2 French grammar books for beginners

Even as a complete beginner, you’ll have to get your head around some basic grammar rules before attempting to build simple sentences. Thankfully, among the many books written in English to help foreign learners, we’ve found a couple of the best to introduce you to the mysteries of French grammar.

La grammaire des premiers temps

This fantastic series includes two books, one for beginners and one for intermediate learners. In both books, you’ll find grammar explanations, recap sheets and tables, as well as exercises to help you progress.

So, what makes La grammaire des premiers temps different from your average beginner French grammar workbook? The book (as well as the accompanying digital material) focuses on helping you improve your speaking and listening skills — not just your writing and reading. Not only will you learn useful rules to build sentences, but you’ll also be exposed to common vocabulary and idioms in French.

Grammaire essentielle du français

There are actually four Grammaire essentielle du français books you can choose from, according to your level: complete beginner, beginner, intermediate or advanced. 

This allows for continuity in your learning. For instance, the intermediate volume of Grammaire essentielle du français flows seamlessly from the beginner volume, revisiting in greater detail the rules explained in the first two books of the series. After wrapping up the review, the book dives into more complex grammar rules. 

Each book in the series is built similarly, with an explanation followed by related exercises. And, to make reviewing easier, some additional pages are presented at the end for a bulk recap. Audio CDs are also available to help you practice your listening comprehension.

2 French grammar books for intermediate learners

As you progress in your learning, you’ll be able to develop both your theoretical and your practical grammatical knowledge with these two very different books for intermediate learners.

English Grammar for Students of French

Designed specifically for English-speaking learners, this book gives clear and simple explanations of grammar concepts in French, as well as their English counterparts. As such, English Grammar for Students of French gives you the keys to understanding the logic of French grammar in order to use it more knowingly. 

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It’s all in the name. Technically, exercisier is a made-up word. But to a French ear, its most logical meaning would likely be “exercise book.” Indeed, L’exercisier is full of grammar exercises (and their associated answer keys) to help intermediate learners improve on their own. You’ll also find some basic overviews of grammar and vocabulary rules intended to provide extra support.

The 2 best grammar books for advanced learners in French

Using the word “best” may sound over the top. But the following two books are absolute mainstays in France. Even native speakers won’t hesitate to pick them up to check a tricky point of French grammar. If you’ve reached a more advanced level, you may well find them useful, too. 

Le Bon Usage

Available only in French, Le Bon Usage is THE grammar book that French speakers, including professional copywriters and translators, regularly refer to in order to verify a tricky linguistic point. It’s a highly comprehensive guide that explains the most complex aspects of grammar and conjugation in French. It also compiles a large array of useful phrases in its index. 

Le Bon Usage has been republished more than a dozen times since it was first published in 1936, in order to reflect the evolution of the language. However, if you have an outdated edition, you can easily access revised ones online.

Le Petit Grevisse

Le Petit Grevisse is often considered as a simpler version of Le Bon Usage. It’s just as respected as a grammar book, but its explanations are more accessible, making the intricacies of French grammar clearer and easier to understand. It was conceived with native speakers — more specifically, French students — in mind. But it can be equally useful for advanced foreign learners, as long as they’re ready to study grammar rules directly in French. 

Pick up the best French grammar book for you 

These six titles have something for every level of language learner, from beginners to more advanced learners and even native speakers. So, simply take your pick to find the French grammar book best suited to your needs. Not only will it give you the key to understanding all the rules of French grammar, but it may afford you many opportunities to practice those rules and gain confidence.

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Anne-Lise Vassoille

Anne-Lise is a translator and copywriter working for various industries… Settled down in London, she cannot get enough of the exceptional cultural life in the English capital city, starting with theater, be it to see a new West End show or to roll up her sleeves with her amateur drama group. She is also interested in photography, as her Instagram profile shows. She indulges her passion for languages in a translation blog she writes with other linguist friends. Go to her Linkedin page to know more about her background and her professional experience.

Anne-Lise Vassoille
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