Practice Makes Perfect: The French Subjunctive Up Close

4 French, Books

March 10, 2013

Author  Annie Heminway
Series  Practice Makes Perfect
Publisher  McGraw-Hill
Publication Date  2012
Price  $14.00
Skill Level  Intermediate, Advanced

This book begins with the following question: “Are you ‘subjunctophobic’?”

The author herself is obviously not. “Verbs conjugated in the subjunctive make up a wonderful and captivating tribe,” writes Annie Heminway, “rich in mysteries, nuances, and conundrums, a wandering tribe whose home is everywhere, which means that no realm, in the continuum from absolute certainty to total nebulosity, will remain closed to it. The subjunctive is like music, which the German philosopher Leibniz defined as a ‘secret arithmetic unknowingly practiced by the soul.’”

I get a kick out of it when people have wild enthusiasm for things that are of such indifference to other people. In Practice Makes Perfect: The French Subjunctive Up Close, Ms. Heminway offers good, clear explanations and examples. She has humor, wit, and a strong authorial voice. (Some foreign-language books are so lacking in personality!)

However, the exercise level is uneven and sometimes too easy. Also, one odd thing is that you are often asked to do things like give a verb form for an infinitive verb bracketed in a sentence, but are then given a whole line to write that tiny little verb form. Then, annoyingly, the answer key gives the whole sentence, even though the verb form is the only thing that has changed, so you have to go on a verb-hunting expedition through the answer key, which after a while becomes tiresome. 

Maybe that sounds nitpicky, but such things waste time and space, and I want to get the maximum grammar benefit for (a) my investment of hours and (b) each ounce of grammar book I have to carry around in my purse!

Still, The French Subjunctive Up Close could be your cure for subjunctophobia.

The French Subjunctive Up Close: For an Intimate Look at the Subject
The French Subjunctive Up Close: For an Intimate Look at the Subject

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