Recomend a book to teach grame, sentance diagraming to an older student.

First off I would like to give a hearty ()$*%!!! you to the horrid “education” I received in grade through high school. I am paying terribly for it now in college.

I would like a recommendation for a book or books that would help a young college student to learn the many basic parts of English that he was never “taught” but (some how) only learned partially on his own. Things like grammar, punctuation, and sentence diagramming. Please, not a reference book, but a text/work book.

Sorry, this is a bit of a hijack,

Sentence diagramming seems to be a peculiarly American thing. Do any of the other english speaking countries do this?

I’m nor saying that there’s anything wrong with it, any method of teaching grammar and construction is fine by me.
For my own part, I remember doing French in college (one of the rules of the college was that you had to do and pass a foreign language as part of your course) and the frustration on the lecturer’s face when he realised that half of the class couldn’t grasp french grammar simply because they didn’t understand english grammar. He spent the first term teaching English grammar just so he could teach us the French equivalent.

Didn’t everyone in America learn the bulk of their grammar in their foreign language class? I didn’t know a direct object from a hole in the ground until we got to it in Spanish.

Very true, Snooooopy. I struggled with sentence diagramming, direct objects and indirect objects until I started learning what they were for Spanish and German.

i had to do sentence diagramming in 7th and 8th grade. the only people i know (around my age, 20 or so) who’ve diagrammed sentences have gone to a catholic school (like me), except for one.

and you know what? i’m a writing tutor at my university, and the people who come in and have had horrid grammar have never diagrammed sentences. the ones who have excellent grammar (and just need help with essay structure or whatnot) have diagrammed before.

i’m not saying that the only way you’ll be good with grammar (and ‘good with grammar’ is most likely grammatically incorrect :D) is to diagram sentences, or you need to do them to be good at grammar, but in my anecdotal experience, it seems to help quite a bit. i can’t figure out why exactly it helps, but it does.

i still have my notebook from 8th grade (i saved it for the diagrams!) and you should see the structure. sure, “mother baked mary a cake” looks nice and simple, but “to win the race was her goal, but she sprained her ankle badly” looks like a 3D game of pickup sticks. if anyone is interested, i can scan some and post links to the images to see what they look like.

I had the exact opposite experience from zweisamkeit. I remember exactly one day of sentence diagramming in high school, and that was around 11th grade. I never found it to be the least bit useful. My grammar is nigh impeccable (fingers crossed against Gaudere’s law) because I read so much.

I recommend that you go to sites that teach grammar for wannabe writers, such as

Maud’Dib, I love love LOVE the Little, Brown Handbook. I suppose it technically is a reference book, but there are exercises and examples throughout for every possible bit of grammar and punctuation that you could ever want to learn.

ah ha! ** throatshot **, i read a lot as well. that is actually where i learned my grammar (where i done gone lerned mine grammer) as well, but i’m assuming that for people who don’t read very much (which is a surprisingly large [to me at least] number), they either learn their grammar by sentence diagramming, or as various others have said, through foreign language classes. or they’re just freaks who naturally know it from birth. :wink:

The best grammar book ever is The Deluxe Transitive Vampire : The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed. It doesn’t have exercises in it, but it’s an absolute joy to read. Good illustrations, too.

I worked through college as a writing tutor, and I generally found that the best writers were the most avid readers. No surprise. Although I learned to diagram sentences in the sixth grade, it didn’t help me understand grammar that well; most of my knowledge of grammar has come from studying foreign languages, from reading, and from non-diagramming drills.

Good luck!

Also, Muad, find out if your college has a writing center. The school I went to had about a dozen part-time tutors that staffed the center; some of us were better than others. Shop around a little until you find one who both knows the material and can communicate it effectively, and then exploit the tweaker.

When I worked as a tutor, it was deadly dull to sit in the writing center with nothing to do. You’ll be doing them a favor by taking up their time.


I have good grammar and spelling (if I may be so bold as to say so myself), possibly because I’ve read so much. However, I do not have a single clue what “sentence diagramming” is or why anyone needs to learn it. I think I remember reading about Laura Ingalls having to diagram a sentence in order to get her teaching papers in one of the Little House books, but I didn’t have any idea what it meant then, either.

I went to school in NZ and Australia and we never diagrammed sentences. It does seem to be a US fetish.

A second recommendation for the Little Brown Handbook. David Crystal’s books are also wonderful – The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language is a joy.

But, Daniel, curse you! I’m gonna have to check out that other book. ::grumble grumble::

No book recomendations, but I just wanted to say that I took a class last fall that was half grammar and half the history of the English language. I loved it. The more I can understand the language, the more I can abuse it to my advantage. :smiley:

I think diagramming is fun; it’s like putting together a puzzle.

Smacks self acros forehead

I misread that title and went looking for “The deluxe Transvestite Vampire”.

Did not find quite what I was looking for.

Hee hee! I’m sure the Deluxe Transvestite Vampire is a whole nother kettle of fish.

Here’s a sample sentence from the book:
How he loved to dangle his participles, brush his forelock off his forehead with his foreleg, and gaze into the aqueous depths.

(This is from Amazon; I don’t know what principle is being illustrated).


The Elements of Grammar by Margaret Shertzer is considered a classic reference book, although it might not be so good if you don’t already know what’s in it.

Please, I do appreciate the responses so far, but does onyone know of any workbooks? I can probably find several and just grab one, but I would feel much safer with considerd recomendation.