Spanish at Your Fingertips
(Alpha Books/Penguin Group, 2007)
Students, businesspeople, and intermediate speakers of Spanish can bypass complicated tutorials for this one-stop reference. It offers the shortest path to the specific point of grammar the reader is searching for, with thorough yet down-to-earth explanations. It also includes such essential information as pronunciation, spelling, accentuation and idioms.
—Features thumbtabs and other navigation aids
Go directly to the specific point of grammar you're interested in, without being side-tracked by points of grammar you don't need to use or by extraneous material such as vocabulary building. The explanations are down to earth and direct.
5 out of 5 stars
All You Need To Learn Spanish
By Bonnie Neely
Spanish At Your Fingertips by Clark M. Zlotchew, Ph.D. is thorough enough to be a Spanish textbook. The book is extremely well-written and divided into easy to understand chapters, which cover every part of grammar and are easy to flip to the part you need for the moment. The serious student of Spanish will find this is the only book he/she needs. Having studied Spanish myself, I found the chapter on Commonly Confused Verbs especially helpful, as it explains very well the fine nuances of the language so you don't end up calling someone boring when you actually mean he is bored. Of course, these are very important fine points to understand and remember if you intend to converse in Spanish. This is not written as a traveler's guide, although it would be a good reference if you tuck it into your suitcase
5 out of 5 stars
The best Spanish reference!
By lov2read (NJ, USA)
Spanish At Your Fingertips belongs to that rare breed of books that satisfies not only on a practical level (it is quick and easy to get an answer to a specific question that suddenly pops into your head), but also on an almost aesthetic level. Lest this distinction is not entirely clear, the difference is as follows: with this reference guide, you get the answer not only without any difficulty finding it (unlike the way some reference works seem to require the user to obtain a Ph.D. in an entirely unfamiliar discipline before learning how to get needed information without fuss), but the explanation is set forth in a transparent, logical, and unusually memorable fashion.
Learning a foreign language is never easy; it's hard work for the best of us. Dr. Zlotchew's achievement is making the material makes sense for students of Spanish, whether beginners or more advanced learners. It is not really meant as a stand-alone textbook, but rather an essential reference that supplements whatever other materials the student may have or has had in the past; indeed it is a great work for those of us who have studied Spanish in the past and have forgotten much of what they once knew or who never quite got past a basic-level of speaking and comprehending Spanish because they didn't quite grasp the nuances of Spanish grammar. I found myself intellectually turned on by the clear, unpretentious explanations of basic parts of speech and writing, for example clearly explaining what the difference is between an adverb and adverbial phrase or between a dependent clause and an independent clause (and how to correctly use all of these in Spanish). If one didn't come to the table with this sort of curiosity, the book will likely cause the reader to take a new-found interest in such distinctions. Accordingly, the book fosters greater comprehension of not only Spanish (which, of course, is the principal purpose for the book), but also one's own native English grammar.
As I alluded to earlier, the beauty of the book lies in its ability to explain in clear, concise, and memorable language the lessons it imparts -- which makes picking the book up a joy even when one doesn't have a burning question that demands an immediate answer (perhaps because we embarrassed ourselves by misusing the verb amar or querer and want to be sure not to do so again). For example, the rules regarding accentuation and proper use of accent marks were presented in a way that seemed so simple and obvious that I'm shocked I've never seen it presented as competently in any other Spanish text. While hard work is required to get the most out of this book, it is truly a pleasure to keep handy and to open its pages.
Reviewed by James Tipton
“For this old brain of mine -- that threatens to retire before I do -- a book that makes simple what has always been somewhat complicated to me is a book that I will cherish.”
Clark M. Zlotchew, Ph.D., has taught Spanish language at SUNY College at Fredonia in New York State since 1975. He has published more than a dozen books including translations of Spanish poetry and fiction as well as Alpha Teach Yourself Spanish in 24 Hours.
His recently published Spanish at Your Fingertips is well organized, easy to use, a delight to open almost at random while you are waiting in line at a Mexican bank or while you are sipping coffee in your favorite street café in San Francisco or New York City. You do not need to begin at page 1 and study through to page 364.
How does Spanish at Your Fingertips work? Perhaps you are still struggling with por and para (and that includes me and most of my expatriate friends here in southern Mexico). You can turn to Uses of Por and Para, Section 6.3 (which is Chapter 6, Section 3), even using the printed thumb-tabs when you get used to them. Professor Zlotchew has obviously worked very hard to make Spanish easy for his students, which includes us, the readers of his fine new book. Section 6.3 begins with a very condensed summary of the uses of por and para:
Spanish at Your Fingertips is not a textbook for the beginning student to learn Spanish. It is, though, a fine book for the beginning student as well as the intermediate and advanced to have sitting alongside his or her favorite Spanish-English dictionary. It is a reference book. As such, it includes a Glossary in case you've forgotten the meaning of "idiom" or "morpheme" or "reciprocal verb"; it also includes Reference Material in case you need to find Spanish-English/English-Spanish dictionaries for health professional; and it has a good index, something I really insist upon for reference books of this nature.
For this old brain of mine -- that threatens to retire before I do -- a book that makes simple what has always been somewhat complicated to me is a book that I will cherish. In fact, I will not even loan it out to the most beautiful expatriate here at Lake Chapala.
I own at least a dozen books on "how-to-learn Spanish" and I do not want to take the space here to comment on those. I do, though, always have at my fingertips two favorite bilingual dictionaries, The University of Chicago Spanish Dictionary: Spanish-English/English Spanish and The New Revised Velázquez Spanish and English Dictionary. Spanish at Your Fingertips will now takes its place beside those much used references.
Published or Updated on: February 1, 2008 by James Tipton © 2009