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Best books for German learners

Students often ask me what books I recommend for various purposes. These are some of the most useful references available for German learners.

German-English Dictionaries

Collins Pocket German Dictionary. 5th ed. (2010). [BEGINNER]
If you’re looking for something portable but nonetheless useful, then try the Collins German Concise Dictionary. This is the abridged version of the Collins German Unabridged Dictionary described above. It contains over 200,000 entries and translations and a section outlining the basic principles of German grammar. As a shortened version, the Concise Dictionary does not contain the comprehensive features of its parent volume, but for a portable dictionary, it doesn’t get any more thorough than this. Find it at the Book Depository (ships free worldwide) or on
German book: Collins German Dictionary

Collins German Unabridged Dictionary. 8th ed. (2013). [INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED]

This comprehensive dictionary contains 850,000 entries and translations and includes terms from the fields of business, politics, and technology. The Collins German Unabridged Dictionary is meant to help foreign language learners to acquire current common German and English usage. To that end, the dictionary includes exhaustive coverage of key words and full treatment of irregular forms. It also indicates regional usages and differentiates between written and spoken real contemporary language use. Sold at the Book Depository (ships free worldwide) or on


German book: Mastering German Vocabulary

Mastering German Vocabulary: A Practical Guide to Troublesome Words, by Bruce Donaldson (2004). [BEGINNER/INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED]

This very useful reference explains the subtle differences between German words that ordinary dictionaries list as synonyms. When you look up an English word, you will find a corresponding range of words that Germans commonly use along with explanations of the differences between them and practical examples of usage. Though not exhaustive in its coverage of vocabulary (and not meant to be), it includes over 2200 commonly used German words, and more importantly, it explains exactly how and when to use them. The undifferentiated typeface for entries and the lack of spacing between them makes scanning the entries a bit more difficult than it needs to be, but this minor inconvenience doesn’t diminish the value of this book. Available from or the Book Depository (ships worldwide).

Grammar Reference

English Grammar for Students of German, by Cecile Zorach. 6th ed. (2014). [BEGINNER]

Now in its 6th edition, Zorach’s volume has been helping students through the ins and outs of German grammar for decades. This book is especially useful for learners who need a review of English grammar as they delve into the structures of German. Beginning to advanced grammar is explained in a comparative fashion so that the learner can see how the same structures function in each language. Buy at or the Book Depository (ships worldwide).
German book: Hammer's German Grammar

Hammer’s German Grammar and Usage, by Martin Durrell. 6th ed. (2017). [INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED]

Hammer’s German Grammar is the must-have German grammar reference. This well-organized, comprehensive volume contains detailed explanations of the intricacies of German grammar. It contains very clear explanations of grammar points and provides numerous examples of usage. Any questions that an intermediate or advanced learner might have will undoubtedly be answered in the pages of this book. Available from or the Book Depository (ships worldwide).


German book: Modern German pronunciation

Modern German Pronunciation. An introduction for English speakers, by Christopher Hall. 2nd ed. (2003). [INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED]

This is a very thorough guide to pronouncing all of the sounds of German, including not only the sounds of individual morphemes, but also word stress and intonation. The author also points out the specific problems that English speakers typically have with each sound. Included are a set of exercises for focused practice with each of the 19 topics covered in the book. Highly recommended for anyone learning German and striving to sound like a native speaker. Available from or the Book Depository (ships worldwide).

**Disclosure: The links to external sites on this book recommendation page contain affiliate links. If you visit the Book Depository or amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a commission from your purchase. The earned commissions do not increase the cost of your purchase and they help defray the costs of maintaining this website.**

11 comments on “Best books for German learners
  1. Melvyn McCambridge says:

    Great advice for best grammar book for a beginner and listing for most common German words. Thanks

  2. Dilson says:

    Why not stories books to leaners level A2???

    • These books are excellent for supplementing whatever other material you are using for German learning. Everyone has different interests. Motivation is one of the most important factors when it comes to success at language learning. That is, in order to stay motivated, you must engage with materials that interest you. If Level A2 story books are of interest to you, then by all means, you should use them to learn German! When you have a question about the material you find in such a book — that is when the reference works listed above can provide the needed support.

  3. Hassan says:

    Hi, I am searching for a grammar book which also has some exercises, unfortunately Hammer is only instructions and there is no exercises to practice.

  4. Jiménez Peter says:

    Thank you for very good recomendations

  5. Michael says:

    Does the 3rd edition of Practicing German Grammar go with the 5th edition of German Grammar & Usage?

    • Yes, that appears to be correct. I randomly checked a few cross-references and those two editions do align for the topics I looked up. Also telling is the fact that those editions were both published in 2011 AND share the same cover design.

  6. Maria Werner says:

    Projekt Gutenberg in Spiegel Online offers free German literature:

  7. Keenan says:

    Do any of these resources teach handwriting, or is there another book on that that you might recommend? Thank you!

    • Can you tell me what your are looking for specifically? What is your goal for learning handwriting? Are you trying to read older forms of handwriting or maybe trying to learn to form your own letters in the German style of handwriting?

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