Grammar is a lot like mathematics.
You learn a rule and then figure out how to apply it.
Barring some exceptions, these rules are more or less universal, and can be applied to any conversation in that language.
That’s why following an English grammar book is such a useful study method. Just like those old math textbooks from your school days, grammar books show you the rules and help you use them correctly.
But don’t worry. That doesn’t mean learning English has to be like math class.
There are plenty of excellent English grammar books that you can study on your own schedule, in a café or the comfort of your bed.
No uncomfortable desks or early morning exams!
Best of all, many of them are available totally for free online.
In this post, I’ve curated a list of the best free English grammar books that you can simply download and read at your own pace. Each of them has its advantages and you can choose the most relevant ones depending on your learning needs.
How to Make the Most of a Grammar Book
These tips below will guide you on how to make the best of any grammar book that you refer to.
- Do the lessons chapter-wise. Most grammar books will deal with the simple and basic topics before moving on to the difficult ones. So following the sequence of lessons as outlined in the contents page might be a good idea.
- Read the theory first. Don’t even try doing the exercises unless you’ve read and understood the theory first. That way, when you finally start on the exercises, you’re less likely to be stuck.
- Try to form sentences using the examples given in the book. Most of the examples in these books will use common English vocabulary and phrases. So you can try and memorize their formats to use in your own communication.
For instance, you may encounter example questions such as, “Can you tell me the way to the school?” You can memorize the first half of the sentence and replace “school” with “bank” or “restaurant” as the case may be, and use it anytime you need to ask for directions.
- Look for answer keys to check your answers. When you’re selecting a grammar book, make sure that you check for an attached answer key to any exercises in the book. An answer key will tell you the correct responses to each exercise so you can compare your work.
You need to ensure that you’ve correctly solved the exercises, otherwise you won’t learn from them!
- Supplement with real-world English videos on FluentU. Grammar books won’t be of much help when it comes to pronunciation, accents or even the subtle nuances of everyday speech. So it’s always better to expose yourself to the English language as much as you can, and FluentU is one of the best (and most fun) tools to do this.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
7 Free, Downloadable English Grammar Books You Can Read Right Now
It doesn’t matter if you’re a mere beginner in the use of English language, or you’ve already attained advanced proficiency but feel that your grammar has gone rusty. These free books that contain a mixture of textbooks and workbooks will be of great benefit to all.
Basic Grammar Books to Get You Started
If you’re a beginner and you don’t have much of a grasp on the grammar basics, these three books are worth checking out.
English 4U is a wonderful website, filled with resources for non-native speakers who’ve just begun their English learning process. Their website has two free grammar books available for download. “Grammar Book 1” is for beginners, while “Grammar Book 2” is a follow-up for intermediate students.
The first book covers some of the most common English grammar topics, such as plurals, simple tenses, articles and questions. It’ll be ideal for those struggling with the structures of basic conversations.
There are 16 chapters. Each one begins with a short lesson, followed by several exercises that are accompanied by the right answers.
The second book covers more complicated tenses, irregular verbs and similar words that are easy to mix up. It has 20 chapters.
Grammar Teacher is a website dedicated to helping students master the English language. They even have a free grammar book, which you can download and distribute among your friends at no extra cost, as long as you don’t change any of the book’s material.
The book is called “English Grammar Secrets” and it’s primarily focused on the correct usage of the different tenses as well as important English verb forms such as “will,” “can,” and “should” that are widely used in speech.
This book will also teach you how to ask and answer questions and express wishes or feelings in the appropriate tense. Each chapter begins with a short lesson, followed by a few exercises that are linked to the grammar quizzes on the website.
“Oxford Guide to English Grammar”
“Oxford Guide to English Grammar,” by John Eastwood, is a comprehensive grammar reference book that you should always keep at your fingertips. It covers all the key grammar topics in detail, and is a great book for understanding the patterns and structures of the English language.
However, this book doesn’t have any exercises, so I advise you to use it for reference purposes. For instance, if you’re stuck somewhere or you need a better explanation, look up the topic in this book and follow the examples given.
Alternatively, you can use this book as a supplement to another grammar resource, and refer to it for more in-depth explanations or a wider variety of examples.
Online Grammar Books for the Busy Learner
These grammar books don’t come as a PDF download, but are instead available and indexed online. That means you can conveniently choose an individual chapter or exercise to complete anytime, anywhere.
Englishpage’s Online English Grammar Book
This website’s index of grammar topics will give you a complete crash course in the language. The topics are arranged alphabetically and you can literally start anywhere. Each topic also has a number of online exercises to help you further practice and improve your skills.
At the top of the page, they even have specific “grammar tutorials” for certain topics like verb tenses, gerunds and conditionals, which come with charts and frequently asked questions to ensure you have a clear understanding of these topics.
Education First’s English Grammar Guide
Education First also contains a brilliant grammar guide, neatly sorted by the important parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc.). I’d suggest you primarily use this as a reference tool, because they have easy-to-understand definitions and relevant examples.
Think of it as more of a textbook than a workbook. For instance, if you’re curious about nouns, you’ll get to learn about the different kinds of nouns, the rules of capitalization and even about pronouns. That way, you’ll be able to identify nouns in a sentence as well as learn how to modify them to express what you want.
Mammoth Lists of Grammar Books for the Perfectionists
The above free English grammar books are sure to give you a strong grounding. But in case you’ve exhausted them all and are looking for more free resources to continue and perfect your learning, the links below might help.
PDF Drive Database
PDF Drive is a handy search engine to look for and download free e-books. There are books on a wide variety of topics, including a huge number of grammar books. Whether you’re looking for workbooks, test packages, composition guides or grammar books focused on a specific topic, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your needs.
You can also sort books by their relevance, popularity and page counts to narrow down your options. If you’re still confused, go for books from Oxford or Longman and you’ll be in safe hands.
ESL Pages’ Grammar Worksheets
This website contains links to download two free grammar books as well as recommendations for books you could buy. However, both of the free books contain more than 100 worksheets each and are a must-have for students eager for more grammar practice.
These worksheets have a wide variety of exercises to keep you engaged for quite some time. If you’ve already read the other grammar books and are looking to practice and apply what you’ve learned, you’ll have a fun time solving these worksheets. You can even use them in a study group.
English learning doesn’t have to be an expensive or time-consuming affair. The internet is rife with free resources if you know where to find them and how to judiciously use them. Unlike some other languages, English grammar is comparatively easy to understand, learn and apply and once you’ve mastered the basics, you’re all set to become a fluent user of the language. So put in your best effort, do the lessons regularly and the English language will be within your grasp.
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and educator. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries.
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