Grammar Book: Arabic for Nerds 2


root: و-ص-ي / verbal noun of form II / plural: تَوصيات / definition: recommendation

So I finally gave in: I ordered the grammar book that’s been sitting in my Amazon basket for months. And while I can’t actually put this hefty 800-ish-page book on my already-overburdened bookshelf for fear of a catastrophic collapse, I have absolutely no regrets. Let me tell you why.

Have you ever stopped on a word or phrase trying to work out why it has those particular case endings when you’ve (so far) learnt otherwise? Or why an odd-looking sentence or word makes sense? Or perhaps you thought you understood a grammar rule and then one tiny seemingly-misplaced kasra throws you into a tearful existential crisis?

If so, congratulations! You’re in the same boat as every other Arabic student.

Fortunately for all of us, there is a beacon of hope in the form of Gerald Drißner’s Arabic for Nerds 2.

This book has got to be every serious (nerdy) Arabic student’s dream. It’s just brilliant.

Arabic for Nerds 2 is set out in the form of 450 questions and answers about Arabic grammar—so the contents and index pages make it super easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.

With praiseworthy clarity and comprehensiveness (bravo, Drißner), it goes through pretty much any grammar question you may have plus tons of questions that probably have never crossed your mind. (I mean, how many of us have ever questioned why “شُكْراً” is in accusative case?)

The depth is amazing: every word, detail, and vowel mark is explained in full, and the rules and principles are followed by thoroughly-analysed examples.

And another thing I love about the book is that the author not only mentions the differences between the grammars of Classical and Modern Standard Arabic (or differences of opinion between grammarians), but he also explains step-by-step how the grammar works in each case.

On top of that: the whole first chapter is dedicated to the history of Arabic grammar (really interesting stuff).

Here’s some random snippets from the book, so you can get a feel of the structure:

I’ve only had the book for a matter of days, but I can already tell I’m going to be reaching for it quite a lot.

If this post somehow hasn’t convinced you enough, I urge you to check out all of the reviews on Amazon here!

For those who feel that they’re not yet at the right level for this book, you might want to check out Arabic for Nerds 1, which is more aimed towards intermediate-level learners.

And if you still feel like the Q&A structure of these books isn’t right for you, I also recommend that you look at Karin C. Ryding’s book, A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic which I’ve actually been using for a few years now (this one’s significantly pricier though!).

So, fellow nerds, if you do get the book, let me know what you think of it! And I’ll see you on the next post, إلى اللقاء!

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8 thoughts on “Grammar Book: Arabic for Nerds 2

  1. Wow! This book looks so amazing! I love how simply everything is explained in the few snippets you posted. Amazon doesn’t ship to South Africa so is there any other site I can find it on?

    1. It’s available from quite a few bookshops as far as I know, although I’m not sure if they ship to where you are. I think you’ll be able to find out through a Google search though!

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