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Essential Italian Grammar
By Olga Ragusa
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1963 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Essential Italian Grammar is based on the assumption that you plan to spend a limited number of hours studying Italian grammar and that your objective is simple everyday communication. This book is not a condensed outline of all aspects of Italian grammar. It is a series of hints to help you use more effectively and with greater versatility phrases and vocabulary that you have already learned.
How to Study Essential Italian Grammar
If you have already studied Italian in a conventional manner, you can use this book as a refresher by glancing through all of it first and then selecting those areas on which you wish to concentrate.
If you have never studied Italian grammar, then the following suggestions will be helpful:
1. Master several hundred useful phrases and expressions such as you will find in any good phrase book or in the Listen & Learn Italian course. You will understand the suggestions contained in Essential Italian Grammar more easily after you have achieved this basic working knowledge of Italian. The purpose of this book is to enable you to gain greater fluency once you have learned phrases and expressions, not to teach you to construct sentences from rules and vocabulary.
2. Read through Essential Italian Grammar at least once in its entirety. Don't be concerned if anything is not immediately clear to you. What may appear discouragingly difficult at first will become easier as your studies progress. But the first reading is necessary to acquaint you with terms and concepts peculiar to Italian grammar. Learning what these terms and concepts are will help you to improve your comprehension of Italian and to use more freely the expressions you already know. As you use Italian and hear it spoken, many of its grammatical patterns will become familiar to you. Essential Italian Grammar helps you to discover these patterns so that you can use them.
3. Go back to this book periodically. Sections which seem difficult or of doubtful benefit at first, may prove extremely useful later.
4. For the most part, the book follows a logical order, taking up the major divisions of grammar in sequence. You will do best to follow this order. However, some students learn best when they study to answer an immediate question or need (e.g., how to form the comparative; how to conjugate the verb "to be," etc.). If you are one of these students, turn to the section that interests you. But read through the entire section, rather than just an isolated part. Individual remarks, taken out of context, are easily misunderstood.
5. Examples are given for every rule. It is helpful to memorize these examples. If you learn every example in Essential Italian Grammar, together with its literal translation, you will have encountered the basic difficulties of Italian and studied models for their solution.
6. You cannot study Italian systematically without an understanding of its grammar, and the use and understanding of grammatical terms is as essential as a knowledge of certain mechanical terms when you learn to drive a car. If your knowledge of grammatical terms is weak, read the Glossary of Grammatical Terms (p. 94) and refer to it whenever necessary.
In every language there are many ways to express the same thought. Some constructions are simple, others more difficult. During your first experiments in communication, use a simple construction. Throughout Essential Italian Grammar you will find suggestions on how to avoid complicated constructions in favor of simpler ones. You may ultimately wish to master a more sophisticated way of expressing yourself. Be satisfied at first with the simplest.
As you begin to speak Italian, you will become aware of the areas in which you need the most help in grammar. If you have no one with whom to speak, speak mentally to yourself. In the course of a day see how many of the simple thoughts you've expressed in English you are able to turn into Italian. This kind of experimental self-testing will give direction to your study of grammar. Remember that you are studying this course in Italian not to pass an examination or to receive a certificate, but to communicate with others on a simple but useful level. Essential Italian Grammar is not the equivalent of a formal course of study at a university. Although it could serve as a supplement to such a course, its primary aim is to help the adult study on his own. Indeed, no self-study or academic course or series of courses is ever ideally suited to all students. You must rely on and be guided by your own rate of learning and your own requirements and interests. Essential Italian Grammar makes self-study easier.
If this or any other grammar tends to inhibit you in speaking Italian or in using what you have learned through phrase books, conversation courses, or the Listen & Learn records, curtail your study of grammar until you feel it will really assist rather than hinder your speaking. Your objective is speaking, and you can learn to speak a language without learning its grammar. But because of its systematic approach, grammar is a short-cut to language learning for those who feel at home with it. The fundamental purpose of Essential Italian Grammar is to help you by eliminating hit-or-miss memorization.
Excerpted from Essential Italian Grammar by Olga Ragusa. Copyright © 1963 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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