Basically, excellent

30th May 1997 at 01:00
Basic Italian Grammar. By Tony Giovanazzi. John Murray Pounds 7.99

Bridget Patterson gets into Italian grammar

This user-friendly introduction to Italian grammar will be as helpful to the GCSE student as to an adult studying independently. It is also a reminder of the basics for revision at any level.

The book is divided into the usual chapters devoted to each part of speech, but the feature that sets it apart from others is the careful definitions at the beginning of each section. Even at A-level I have been taken aback by being asked what an adverb is, and Tony Giovanazzi addresses this problem admirably, although with a slight tendency to patronise, as in "prepositions are little words".

There are exercises to reinforce the points in each chapter, with answers at the back; this also stops the book being simply a list of rules. There are also well-chosen examples of everyday and colloquial usage, something which is all too rare in grammar books. In the section on questo and quello, for example, he points out that Italians use questo where the English would use "that": questo vero, or ha detto questo? The reader is also told when archaic forms (such as pel and pella as elisions of per) are no longer used.

This is a highly recommended aid to accuracy in Italian. My only quibble is with the verb tables where I'm not sure about the decision only to give the unusual or irregular forms in some tenses; it is handy to have all the tenses available in one table.

Bridget Patterson is head of sixth form careers and teacher of modern languages at Northgate High School, Ipswich

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