Summary and Info
This book is written primarily for teachers, not students of Chinese. The blurbs mention this fact, but do not emphasize it. Consequently, many people may buy this book looking for a study aid, but will be very disappointed by the fact they will not be able to use it at all. Other than the introductory passages in English explaining the purpose and methodology used, there are NO, I repeat NO, English explanations of the 150 grammatical points explained in this book. There are copious explanations and illustrations in Chinese, meant for native Chinese teachers, or for non-native teachers with an excellent grounding in grammar, but nothing to help the beginner or low intermediate student.
Also, be warned the book is NOT a textbook, but a source book of ideas and examples for Chinese teachers who are faced with explaining the 150 or so grammatical items covered to students struggling to understand. This is not to say the book isn't useful. In fact, it's wonderful. I gave it five stars. But the bar is set pretty high if you are a beginner, or even if you are a second or third year student who has studied only in the US. If you are a second or third year student in a full-time program in China, you will be used to less English explanation and fewer translated examples. However, there are many easier-to-use books that cover some of the same territory, but with English explanations, and translated/pinyin-ed examples.
To repeat what I said above, I rated it five stars because it has a wealth of stuff on particular Chinese grammar points that you won't find anywhere else, in comparable levels of detail, except maybe in some of the grammar summaries in HSK study material (usually all in Chinese, too). This book covers a good number of really useful intermediate and advanced grammar points, making it extremely helpful, especially if your Chinese is at an appropriate level.
And for native Chinese teachers, I think it helps relatively inexperienced teachers who might not have given any thought to how others may view the Chinese language, a way to see things through the eyes of non-native learners. It groups and summarizes, giving teachers some hints on how to teach Chinese, or particular points in Chinese grammar, to more advanced students.
In short: Excellent for teachers, and the more intrepid students among us. Not for beginners or casual students of the language.
For serious beginners looking for some English explanations and lots of good examples to supplement their textbook, try Claudia Ross's Schaum's Outline (yeah, you heard me right, Schaum's Outline) of Chinese Grammar. This book is a supplement-type textbook and workbook in one volume. Very succint and complete for first, and even second year, students.
Or, perhaps in a bit too much detail for the first book, but excellent as the second, Claudia Ross and Jing-heng Sheng Ma, Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar. This one consists of one volume that provides a bit more extensive explanations of the basics of Chinese grammar (not in a textbook style, but more like a grammatical reference), followed by a 'how to say what you want in any situation' (Invitations, requests, and refusals; Expressing conditions; Talking about movement, directions, and means of transportation) segment. This volume has almost 400 pages of good solid information and advice. There is a companion workbook, sold separately, to help you master all this stuff. But remember this is not a textbook; and the sheer volume of material provided may drown you in detail. But if you are a serious student of Chinese, there are few other books available that put all of this in one place for you, so you will need this one eventually.
For intermediate students and above, two extremely useful books: first, try Jiaying Howard, A Student's Handbook of Chinese Function Words; a mini-dictionary with two examples each, in both simplified and traditional characters, translated into English and pin yin-ed, of the conjunctions, prepositions, and adverbs that hold a Chinese sentence together, and lift it above the elementary level.
Also, for lots and lots (and lots) of excellent detail, Stanley L. Mickel, Dictionary for Readers of Modern Chinese Prose. Good advice, complete explanations, etc., on how to parse a Chinese sentence for the meaning hidden inside. Not for the faint of heart.
Serious beginners (and even low intermedite students) can skip these last two, as the stuff in them is for the really intermediate/advanced stages of your study of Chinese, when you start to try to read real Chinese prose. The first two (Ross, and Ross and Ma) are a much better use of your money.
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