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Practicing HSK Grammar - Review


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Review of Practicing HSK Grammar


ISBN 978-7-80200-451-1

set price: 58

21cm x 28.5cm, 252 pages


I got this through the second round of the Sinolingua giveaway, complete with big 邓小平 postage stamps. I haven't had a thorough read of it yet, so I'll add comments as I get through it.


First, the structure. There are 11 chapters, each concentrating on one area, such as 'prepositions' or 'particles', each with some explanation and examples, then exercises, then the answers with very detailed explanations of each answer. To pick a random example, chapter 6, 'Optative Verb', has four pages of explanation (Chinese and English, translated after each paragraph), 30 multiple-choice exercises (a page and a bit), and four pages of answers to the exercises (with explanations), again in Chinese and English. There are no vocabulary lists, and the only pinyin is in the English translations.


The back of the book says this is for HSK Elementary and Intermediate, but what this means is not entirely clear. The book was first printed in 2008 (when the old system was in place, and Elementary/Intermediate referred to HSK 3-8), but this copy was printed in 2012, under the new system. Old HSK 8 may be roughly equivalent to New HSK 6 (feel free to disagree, I haven't taken any HSKs). However, sometimes the New HSK levels are described in such a way that 5 and 6 are 'advanced'. At some point I'll try to compare the 'grammar points' in this book with those on the Chinese Grammar Wiki, which are labelled by level.


Within each chapter, the explanations are basically about individual words, phrases, or structures. So, for instance, in the Preposition chapter, we get paragraphs on 按照,朝,趁,从,etc. with very little on prepositions in general. Some of the chapters take a more general approach, for instance Reduplication, Complement, and Relative Phrases and Complex Sentences.


While much of this information is no doubt useful (and a quick look at the section on 的 has revealed information I haven't found elsewhere), this arrangement does not make it easy to find. A Student Handbook for Chinese Function Words (Jiaying Howard, Chinese University Press, 2002) has similar information, but it's arranged alphabetically and has three indexes, while this book has none. I find the layout a bit confusing, as well. Each word or phrase is numbered, but different usages or factoids are introduced with indented circled numbers, and points below this level use bold capital letters. This system is interrupted frequently by “Special Tips”. Finding your way around the page is not easy.


While we're being negative, I should mention that the translation isn't ideal. I haven't found anything inaccurate yet, and it's generally easy to see what is meant, but some of the sentences are awkward or ungrammatical.


What this book has that others don't is the exercises, and the detailed explanations of the answers. So a student aiming for one of the HSK tests could use it as a self-tester, and brush up on those areas where he/she makes mistakes. A teacher could presumably use it as a source for test or quizzes, but the material isn't matched to a particular syllabus. So, if it is intended for self-testers only, why is it bilingual? Who's going to read all the Chinese?


There is some unusual grammatical vocabulary here. Measure words are called 'quantifiers', and optative verbs (能源动词) are what Ross/Ma and Yip/Rimmington both call 'modal verbs'. I'm not saying one's right and one's wrong, just be aware that English terms for Chinese grammatical concepts have yet to be universally agreed on.

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  • 1 month later...

I got this book through the second round of the Singolingua giveaway action,  therefore many thanks  !


My choice :


Practicing HSK Grammar

Author : Jing Whqng

Press : SINOLINGUA – Beijing

ISBN : 9787802004511


My review :


I am studying Chinese, therefore I’ll write my review from this point of view and not from the point of view of a teacher.


My first impression of this book is that it’s a nice size for reading. It’s length and width (around 11 ¼ inches by 8 ¼ inches) fits with most other study books.


The large font makes it easy to read, especially with regards to Chinese characters.


A table of contents gives a survey of all 12 chapters. Each chapter handles an area such as : quantifier, adverbs, prepositions, etc. A detailed index is not given, that makes it a little difficult if you want to find a specific word. On the other hand, when studying for an HSK test it is probably the best to learn all the chapters and make all the exercises.


It is not mentioned clearly for which HSK level this book is written. I am now studying for the HSK 4 exam, so for me it is a very useful book with new grammar items. Maybe some items are even for the HSK 5 level.


Each chapter begins with an explanation of the area that’s been handled. Then you can find an overview of the different examination points. For each explained word there are some examples given but only in Chinese Characters, no pinyin or English translation is given. No translation makes it a little more complicated to understand,  because a translation – if done properly – can indicate the subtle difference in meaning between the used sentences. On the other hand, when you reached an HSK level 4 or 5, you can understand most of the given examples without translation is needed.

When the writer thinks it  is necessary  to give a bit of extra information, he put in a “special tip” which is clearly indicated but here also no pinyin or English translation.

The different examination points are followed by many exercises, by their answer keys and a most useful, detailed explanation of the correct answer. I think this  is what makes this book so interesting for using it at home.


My opinion :

This is a very useful book to test your knowledge for the HSK exam at home because of the many exercises, their answer keys and a most useful, detailed explanation of the correct answer . I think the book will be a great help to pass my HSK 4 and in the future to help me to succeed HSK 5.

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