Grande Grammaire du français project:

for Italian, the Grande Grammatica italiana di consultazione (Renzi, Salvi, & Cardinaletti, 1989-1991), for Spanish the Gramatica descriptiva de la lengua española (Bosque & Demonte, 1999), for Catalan the Gramàtica del Català contemporani (Solà et al. 2002), for English the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Huddleston & Pullum, 2002). Nothing of the sort exists for French. Most grammar books are normative, while our aim, as linguists, is purely descriptive. The best existing descriptive French grammars are smaller, written by 2 or 3 authors, and mainly based on written literary French: M. Grevisse, A. Goosse (1936-2008) Le Bon Usage, M. Riegel et al. (1994-2009), La grammaire méthodique du français. While useful, they are based on a “rules and exceptions” approach, with no clear-cut distinctions between grammatical relations and categories, between syntax and semantics. They are not focused on the modern stage of the language, including references to 17th or 18th century authors such as Corneille or Marivaux

Today we are in the second quarter of 2017 but La Grande Grammaire du français is not published yet. I want to study French grammar with a descriptive view. What solid references exist (in English or French)?


As of 2018 are there any update information about this project?

  • 1
    ’tis a bit unfair to state that Le bon usage is not focused on the modern stage: it does include several contemporary twists and turns about the French language used today in the streets and houses all over the Francophonie, countless examples and citations from 20th Century authors, and the olden stile (prior to 16th Century) has mostly been relegated to Historical notes (though, I'll say fortunately, there are several of them). Controversial spelling reform of 1990 has also been quickly acknowledge and detailed, quite unlike most of the highly respected French dictionaries. Apr 12, 2017 at 2:21
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    Voir aussi cet article à première vue plus récent...
    – user3177
    Apr 12, 2017 at 3:07
  • What about these books?
    – user1995
    Oct 4, 2020 at 6:02
  • @NNOXApps La Grande Grammaire was to be an effort on the part of the French linguist communitiy to deliver an extensive description of French that would document common and rare phenomena, it would have had nothing to do with teaching or normalizing French. The books you are listing have a different aim.
    – GAM PUB
    Oct 7, 2020 at 7:53

2 Answers 2


I would recommend Le Bon Usage. The online version is probably a boon since it can be somewhat challenging to search in the paper version. It is very extensive, is replete with examples, and includes advanced constructs too.


This project has been a long time coming. I sort of remember people working on it during the early 2000, but the first paper published about it I found dates from 2007.

Anne Abeillé's webpage has an entry for La Grande Grammaire dated 2021. As she has been the co-director of the project since the beginning, it might appear next year.

A. Abeillé, D. Godard (dirs) 2021. La grande grammaire du français, Actes Sud

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