Twenty eight sections each tackle an aspect of grammar, from "Gender" and "Noun Plurals" through to "Word Formation" and "Punctuation and Spelling"; these are followed by five revision texts. Each section begins with a passage of German, taken from a variety of sources: Fehringer draws on novels, newspaper articles, poetry, song lyrics, and transcripts of television shows. Sometimes words or phrases of interest in these are marked in bold, but there's no vocabulary support: the reader is assumed to have a reasonable vocabulary already and to have and be able to use a dictionary.
The grammar presentations that follow draw on examples from the texts as illustrations but are not narrowly restricted to those. They use bold and italics to good effect and keep indigestible tables and lists to a minimum. Other notable grammatical features in the texts are also pointed out, with some more esoteric points explained in embedded "notes".
Finally, each section has a set of exercises. These are often focused on a particular theme, which helps with the concomitant vocabulary learning. And full answers to all of them are included, which is helpful for self-study.
It is hard to pin down exactly what made German Grammar in Context so enjoyable: interesting texts, clear and succinct grammatical explanations, and exercises of just the right level of difficulty. But I liked its approach so much that I bought the French text in the same series even though I have no immediate plans to study French.
Note: a second (2013) edition of German Grammar in Context is about to appear.
- Related reviews:
- - books about the German language