Practice Makes Perfect: Italian Pronouns and Prepositions (Second Edition)
March 10, 2013
Author Daniela Gobetti
Series Practice Makes Perfect
Publication Date 2011
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate
In general, I don’t mind pronouns, but I don’t groove on prepositions. They are among the hardest things for me to learn when I study foreign languages.
Indeed, as author Daniela Gobetti herself notes in Practice Makes Perfect: Italian Pronouns and Prepositions:
Prepositions are notoriously difficult to learn in every language. They contribute to possible meanings of groups of words: even the incomplete phrase “with my brother” creates altogether different expectations from the phrase “by my brother.” But by themselves, in most cases, prepositions merely link words to convey meaning. Prepositions therefore sound (and are) arbitrary to non-native speakers…
That makes it unlikely I will love a book that spends a lot of time on prepositions. But aside from what are admittedly anti-preposition prejudices, in most cases I just don’t think this type of parts-of-speech-based book makes a lot of sense. (McGraw-Hill has them for other languages, too: Spanish, French, German, Arabic, and English.)
The Italian version is divided into two halves, with the first half devoted to pronouns and the second to prepositions. This division just doesn’t correspond to the way people learn languages.
To illustrate the problem: by the third page of pronoun explanations, you are given an exercise where you are matching personal pronouns in the left-hand column with predicates in the right-hand column, but they are predicates that go far beyond what someone who is merely figuring out how to say “I,” “you,” and “we” would know how to read.
Another example: if I know enough to be ready to learn and use verbs such as spaventarsi di (to become afraid of) and allontanarsi da (to move away from) on page 70, I most certainly am not at a stage where I still need to be informed, as I am eight pages later, that the pronoun chi (who) takes a third-person verb.
On page 123 of Practice Makes Perfect: Italian Pronouns and Prepositions, three pages into the preposition section, I am given a list of the most common prepositions: di (of), a (at/to), da (from/by), in (which means what you would think it meant in English), and several others. If you haven’t noticed these words peppering the pages of the book up to now, including the abovementioned examples on page 70, you’re in trouble.
To use this book comfortably, most people will need to be able to understand the harder components of the explanations and examples, in which case they will be bored by the more primitive pronoun and preposition explanations mixed in.
Practice Makes Perfect: Italian Pronouns and Prepositions is a strange case of parts-of-speech-based marketing trumping logic about the way people actually learn a language!