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Modern Hebrew - An Essential Grammar

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Modern Hebrew
An Essential Grammar, Third Edition

By Lewis Glinert
Routledge - Taylor & Francis Group, New York and London: 2005.
ISBN: 0-415-70082-5

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - June 10, 2005

To firmly grasp any language it is essential that the student has a firm understanding of the language's foundation - its grammar. While there are many excellent instructional and graded Hebrew language textbooks, most only provide a brief 'grammar supplement' at the end of the text which provide all too brief overviews of the points of grammar covered in the main text. The need for an in-depth, and accessible Hebrew grammar text suitable for both beginning and advanced students, was finally met in 1991 with the publication of Chik-Chak! A Gateway to Modern Hebrew Grammar by Lewis Glinert.

Since renamed Modern Hebrew: An Essential Grammar, the third edition of this phenomenal text has just been released. This third edition has been greatly expanded, and now includes more intermediate and advanced principles and concepts than its predecessors. As well, Glinert has added additional exercises to the text, making this book more of a workbook and grammar text, rather than just a grammar text with a few exercises. Modern Hebrew: An Essential Grammar is a book that is a 'must have' for anyone studying Hebrew. It is well suited for use by both high school and college students, and it is an indispensable book to have on hand if you are studying Hebrew independently as it will answer many questions that go unanswered in traditional textbooks.

Glinert's Modern Hebrew: An Essential Grammar is not intended to be used as a instructional textbook in Hebrew. Rather it was written as a supplemental text that provides a handy guide to the fundamentals of Hebrew grammar. This guide not only provides a concise outline of the grammatical principles of Modern Hebrew, but is enhanced with brief, yet clear, explanatory texts that explain the principles in greater detail. Throughout, ample examples of each principle are provided. This text also highlights some of the inconsistencies that you'll find when studying Hebrew, such as the uniqueness of Israeli spelling, maverick verbs that switch binyanim (verb patterns) in different tenses, and some colloquial terms and grammatical patterns not normally covered in textbooks.

Both the syntax and morphology of Hebrew grammar are covered in this text. Topics are arranged thematically, and are divided into to main sections - Level One and Level Two. Topics covered in Level One included sentence structure, masculine and feminine nouns, agreement for gender and number, inflections of verbs, rules for possessives, binyanim and mishkalim patterns, prepositions, and embedded clauses. Defective verbs, negatives, adverbials, and special root-types are some of the topics covered in Level Two.

In addition to providing a concise and accessible outline of the fundamentals of Hebrew grammar, Glinert has also included a set of exercises that allows students to test their understanding of the concepts covered. Most important, a complete answer key is provided, enabling students to check their own work, which is a big plus for independent learners. While the Hebrew examples provided in the main body of the text, including the exercises, are written with nikud (vowels) the answer key is given in unvowelized Hebrew. In addition to the main text, and the exercises, Glinert has also included a glossary of grammatical terms, in both English and Hebrew, as well as a custom word list for the vocabulary used in the text.

Modern Hebrew: An Essential Grammar is a unique and requisite resource for all students of Modern Hebrew. I found the examples used and reading sections to be jargon free and unstilted, as Glinert tends to use Hebrew words and terms found in every day Israeli speech, rather than the formal Hebrew terms usually found in textbooks. In addition, the exercises are engaging, fun to do, and they will introduce you to a wealth of vocabulary words that you might not, as of yet, been exposed to. A vocabulary list for the exercises is included.

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