I received a solicitation from Wiley-Blackwell Publishers to consider the new 3rd edition of Terence Wade's venerable "Comprehensive Russian Grammar" as a recommended reference work for my Russian language students at Arizona State University. In short order I received an examination copy. This new version, revised and reedited for impending 2011 publication by David Gillespie after the death of Terence Wade, has on its front cover a blurb from the journal Choice saying that it is "The most complete, accurate and authoritative English-language reference grammar of Russian ever published." Since my students and I have, of necessity over the years, become VERY familiar with this work's widely available competition--that is, Nicholas Maltzoff's Essentials of Russian Grammar: A Complete Guide for Students and Professionals (Passport Books, National Textbook Company, Lincolnwood, Illinois, first published in 1965, then reprinted 1984, with my copy being the 1989 version, ISBN 0-8442-4244-6) and Derek Offord's Modern Russian: An Advanced Grammar Course (Bristol Classical Press, Gerald Duckworth & Co., Ltd., London, first published in 1993, then reprinted in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, with my copy being the 2004 version, ISBN 1-85399-361-1), I decided to "check out" the new Wade reference grammar and compare the explanations in it to analogous explanations in Maltzoff's and in Offord's works.
First let me point out that David Gillespie's edition of Wade's work has the advantage of recency in that each scholar had the works of the others previous to consult and consider. And the Wade work is simply longer than the others, with 596 densely packed pages to Offord's 460 and Maltzoff's 332. And it is the most expensive at $49.95. I decided to investigate the explanations of THREE thorny problems of Russian grammar that bedevil English-speaking learners of the language. These are: 1) distributive use of the Russian preposition "po"--does it demand nominative, dative, or accusative of the noun distributed and in what circumstances; 2) case selection of the adjective in number phrases used as direct objects, particularly how to say "I saw two pretty girls and three smart boys"; 3) declension of archaic adjectives in -ov/ev or -in as in "Kolin drug" for "Kolya's friend" in a phrase like "without Kolya's friend." Maltzoff runs an independent course with regard to the first explanation, stating that "po" takes nominative after 2,3,4, dvoe, troe, poltora, poltorasta, 200, 300, and 400, citing the example "po dva uchenika za partoi" for "two pupils at each desk." On this both Offord and Wade do not mention any possibility of a nominative after these numbers, but state that it is the accusative that is used. They have no animate examples of this, however. Both of them mention possible variance after the numbers 5 and above. In sampling natives myself I would have to say that most feel it is the accusative that is used, agreeing with Offord and Wade. Wade does have the most discussion of the parameters, however. None of these reference grammars thinks to conjoin masculine and feminine adjective-noun phrases in a direct object slot after the numbers 2, 3,4. All state that the nominative plural of the adjective is "preferred" now in the feminine, unlike the masculine adjective being genitive-plural-form as animate in the accusative. Wade is the only one who mentions that these preferences are affected by word stress, particularly in those cases where there is a stress difference between the nominative plural and the genitive singular of the feminine noun, as in tri vysokikh (pl.) gorY (gen sing) to differentiate from nom pl. GOR-y. This tips the judgment scale Wade's way on this, I must say. On the third comparison...of archaic adjectives in -ov/-ev or -in, all three have treatments. Offord's work here, however, does not include the alternative forms like "Kolinovo druga (adjectival)/Kolina druga (nominal)" in the declension, whereas both Maltzoff and Wade do. But Wade's treatment is superior here too, in that he includes a complete declension pattern, including the plural, missing from Maltzoff's treatment, in which the alternate forms "Maminykh/Maminy" are given.
Experienced Russian language teachers will know what I'm talking about in the above paragraph. Others will hopefully just take my word for it that my examination reveals that the Choice journal blurb on the Wiley-Blackwell cover for Terence Wade's book IS ACCURATE. This IS the "most complete, accurate, and authoritative English-language reference grammar of Russian ever published." The others were our "Bible" in their day. But this is better, has more and more recent information wherever you look. I can only recommend it highly to my students and colleagues. It's a fine work.