Contently Humble

A Charlotte Mason Homeschool in a Digital World

Walking the Road to Diagramming Sentences

My journey with diagramming sentences started in 8th grade. Words divided by lines created elaborate artwork in my mind. Artwork that led to an understanding of grammar. Unfortunately, all I can now remember are lines, random words and puzzlement.

Walking the Road to Diagramming Sentences

Fast forward to homeschooling and I once again find myself entrenched in grammar. All I can say is Eek! Give me a friendly Greek symbol from calculus and all is well. Give me grammar terms-object of the preposition, adverbial clause, predicate nominative-and a shortness of breath is induced.

Fortunately, homeschooling gives you second chances.  After a brief resistance (please don’t ask my husband how I define brief) I’m now embracing the word “grammar”. See, I said it and not one tear was shed!

The irony of grammar is as a classical educator you have to start at the grammar stage in order to understand grammar. Confused? I was. It just means-give me the facts. Before you can solve a calculus equation you need to know about numbers, you don’t jump directly into Greek symbols without knowing addition or multiplication or an array of other facts. You learn the basics, you memorize multiplication tables, you learn fractions, you eventually “gasp” enter the realm of algebra leading to calculus.

Thus, to renter the grammar world, I needed to start at the beginning.  I also needed short lessons, simple examples and lots of space for deep breathing. Happily, the answer appeared during a reading lesson. All I can say is, “McGuffey Readers, you Rock!”

Yep, good ‘ol McGuffey led the way. During one of our daily readings a reference was given to a grammar book.

McGuffey's New Fourth Eclectic Reader (1866) - Google ebook

McGuffey’s New Fourth Eclectic Reader (1866) – Google ebook

 

When McGuffey talks, I listen and he led me to Pinneo’s Primary Grammar. Oh, how I love public domain books!

Pinneo's Primary Grammar of the English Language for Beginners (1854) - Google eBook

Pinneo’s Primary Grammar of the English Language for Beginners (1854) – Google eBook

 

Eureka! Short and easy lessons. Nothing fancy. Free. I eagerly printed all 160 pages.

We are currently on lesson 26 and it has been an excellent review for our Classical Conversations Essentials class. Yes, our class. Plural. I’m learning beside my daughter. I guess you could say the book is more for me than her, but that’ll stay our secret. Shhhh.. 

I must state, the topic of diagramming sentences is not directly addressed in this book, but to me it gently leads the way. Also, please note, I have found a few sentences to be historically outdated since it’s from 1854; however, I use those as learning opportunities.

Our next step toward sentence diagramming delight will be to dive into “Graded Lessons in English-An Elementary English Grammar: Consisting of One Hundred Practical Lessons” then venture into “Higher Lessons in English: A Work on English Grammar and Composition“.

Graded Lessons in English: An Elementary English Grammar (1885) - Google ebook

Graded Lessons in English: An Elementary English Grammar (1885) – Google ebook

Higher Lessons in English: A Work on English Grammar and Composition (1898) - Google ebook

Higher Lessons in English: A Work on English Grammar and Composition (1898) – Google ebook

 

Both of these books directly address diagramming sentences. Diagrams start at Lesson 20 in “Elementray English Grammar” and at Lesson 12 in “Higher Lessons in English“. At this stage in my grammar knowledge, sentences without examples lead to confusion. I need to see the end result!

Can you imagine my shout of delight when I discovered that both of these books had an answer key! An answer key nicely contained in one volume, “A Key Containing Diagrams of the Sentences Given for Analysis in Reed and Kellogg’s Graded Lessons in English and Higher Lessons in English“. Wow, what a title! Wow, what a relief!

A Key Containing Diagrams of the Sentences Given for Analysis in Reed and Kellogg’s Graded Lessons in English, and Higher Lessons in English (1889) – Google ebook

 

Diagramming sentences might be a road paved with boulders of confusion, but homeschooling allows us the time to dig trenches around the confusing parts and reach our destination with hope.  As words on lines form art again in my mind, the joy of grammar becomes a current reality. A reality of truth, beauty and goodness.

 

Classically Homeschooling

5 Replies

  1. Great topic for a post! I’ve been thinking lately about how useful diagramming is. We use it for Latin as well, and it really helps with understanding.

    1. Oh, wow! Thanks for sharing how it helped with understanding Latin. I’m hoping to start a more in depth study of Latin soon.

  2. I love these old grammar books. They’re so systematic and logical, grammar makes sense! In my case it was Harvey’s Grammar that pulled everything together for me. 🙂

    1. Sara, old books are indeed wonderful. I just downloaded Harvey’s Grammar and it looks fantastic, thanks so much for sharing it!

  3. Tia W

    This might be a bit late, but I’ve been loving Mary Daly’s “First Whole Book of Sentence Diagrams” (not free). It’s written like poetry and progresses slowly. The idea is that you can learn how to diagram just by reading sentences/viewing diagrams of gradually increasing difficulty. It’s been working really well for me, without any tears or headaches! 🙂
    Thanks for all the great resources! I’m going to check them out.

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