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Sentence diagramming - what's the purpose?


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Let me preface this question by explaining that I did not grow up in the US. My native language is German which has a grammar of a structure similar to English, with two added complications (nouns have gender, and there are four declensions). We had grammar in school, learned to identify the parts of speech - however, I have never heard of diagramming sentences before coming here. (We did not do this for any of the foreign languages studied in school either.)

So please enlighten me: WHY should sentences be diagrammed?

If I know the parts of speech, the structure of a sentence and can use these correctly in writing, what insight does diagramming give me and what can I use it for? (Or, asking the heretical question: can I skip it altogether? Seeing that it is not something that ever came up in my life so far....)

Thanks a lot.

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I know a lot of people will disagree with this; but as a literature major and PhD, a college-level writing instructor, a certified English K-12 teacher, and a homeschooling parent, I have never used diagramming either for myself or for kids.

 

In my heretical opinion, it is ONE TOOL out of many for understanding how language is put together, how sentences are constructed, etc. For some people it might be their primary tool, one that really helps them think through certain aspects of language. I suspect it works particularly well for people who like visual diagrams or representations. For others, diagramming is not going to add to what they've already learned through other means.

 

The end goals of all kinds of grammar programs, including diagramming, are, I think, to be able to use language correctly and thoughtfully; and to understand something about how one's language works. If you achieve those goals through other means, you've found something that clearly works for you.

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I know a lot of people will disagree with this; but as a literature major and PhD, a college-level writing instructor, a certified English K-12 teacher, and a homeschooling parent, I have never used diagramming either for myself or for kids.

 

In my heretical opinion, it is ONE TOOL out of many for understanding how language is put together, how sentences are constructed, etc.

As someone who studied linguistics in college, worked for 6 years as an editor and writer, taught college students and K'ers, and has published a book and academic papers, I agree with Karen. Even more shockingly, I don't believe kids need years and years of grammar drill in order to become excellent writers and editors, and that teaching grammar in context can be at least as, if not more, effective.

 

Jackie

Edited by Corraleno
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I have found that diagramming, as well as sentence parsing, help give a visual picture of the function and "why" behind parts of speech. I find it helps me and some of my dc improve the ability to see the "work" a word does in the sentence and its relationship to other words. I also find it a useful tool in writing b/c if a sentence is not written quite right, we can diagram it and see what is incorrect. It's a tool. For example, I use it daily on sentence like this with my English grammar students:

 

Dad thanks Pam for the apple.

 

We're still parsing, but will diagram later this year. Here's how we break it down:

What is the simple predicate of this sentence? thanks

What is the work of a simple predicate. It shows action or being

Does "thanks" show action or being? action

Great. What is the simple subject of this sentence? Dad

What is the job of a simple subject? To show who or what the sentence is about.

Can you connect the simple subject to the simple predicate? Dad thanks

Great. What's an object? A noun in the sentence that is not the subject.

Good. Are there any objects in this sentence? Yes, Pam and apple.

Right. We know nouns have two jobs. They act as subjects or objects. They are also different kinds of nouns:common, proper, and pronoun. What kind of noun is the object, Pam? proper noun

Right. What about apple? common noun

Good. Let's look at what's left. The

What is the job of "the" in this sentence. It's an article.

What is an article? A kind of adjective.

What is the job of an adjective? to describe a noun

What do adjectives tell? How many, what kind of, which one.

What does "the" tell? Which one.

Which apple? the apple

Great. How do you mark and adjective in a sentence? With a tee pee (carrot top or arrow head work, too).

What word is the describing?

So, what's left? for

What is the job of "for"? It's a preposition.

What do prepositions always have? an object

So, what is the prepositional phrase in this sentence? for the apple

What is the job of a preposition? to show relationship from thing to another, direction, or location

How do I mark a prepositional phrase? parenthesis before the prep. and after the object

What relationship does for show us? thanked and apple.

 

This was actually from today's grammar lesson with my 2nd and 3rd grader. I believe they understand the work of each part of speech in a sentence and I see it in their dictation (to me) and narration b/c their sentences are more and more descriptive. The sentence markings allow them to focus on one application at a time. Additionally, if I find their not understanding something they're reading, I can break down a sentence for them like this and they can "see" the meaning.

 

As the second part of their grammar assignment, we substituted object and subject pronouns. It was pretty easy b/c all we had to do was look at the subject and objects marked, and we knew where to make changes. We talked about point of view (1st, 2nd 3rd person) and number (singular, plural).

 

I also see how diagramming a foreign language would help with syntax and declension understanding.

 

eta: I wanted to add that sentence parsing and diagramming are ONE tool to teach these skills, not the only way. In our home school, it has not been difficult or tedious to teach or learn. I will say, teaching thorough parsing has made it exciting (yes, I said exciting) for my Little League. They enjoy it. Somehow, they get a feeling of accomplishment when they get through each sentence and can demonstrate their understanding of written language, particularly for my language lovers. *I* get a thrill out of it too. I like it.

Edited by johnandtinagilbert
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Let me preface this question by explaining that I did not grow up in the US. My native language is German which has a grammar of a structure similar to English, with two added complications (nouns have gender, and there are four declensions). We had grammar in school, learned to identify the parts of speech - however, I have never heard of diagramming sentences before coming here. (We did not do this for any of the foreign languages studied in school either.)

So please enlighten me: WHY should sentences be diagrammed?

If I know the parts of speech, the structure of a sentence and can use these correctly in writing, what insight does diagramming give me and what can I use it for? (Or, asking the heretical question: can I skip it altogether? Seeing that it is not something that ever came up in my life so far....)

Thanks a lot.

I'm with you.

 

I can identify parts of speech and feel no need to map it out. I know what adjective is modifying what noun/pronoun and can figure out the direct object, etc.

 

My kids are currently using a curriculum that is heavy into diagraming. I am only using it because it's what the kids were using in their private school when we pulled them out. I couldn't afford to buy new and I really didn't want to switch gears that much.

 

Maybe some people are more visual than I am and need to draw pictures of sentences. But for me, I lived quite happily for several decades without learning how to diagram compound-complex sentences. When I did have to learn how, I wasn't nearly so happy.

 

This curriculum does other things I deem completely irrelevant such as casting out 9's. I have never checked my math by doing that and truly see no point in teaching it to my kids.

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Although I don't think it is essential, I have always found diagramming useful (and perversely fun), especially when determining what words various clauses and phrases modify.

 

There are two schools of thought. One, which I heard in one of SWB's lectures, is that diagramming helps people write. It helps keep modifiers and the words they modify together in the sentence and helps writers balance their sentences. If a sentence sounds wrong, SWB asks the writer to diagram it in order to diagnose the problem. In this way, they can see when their sentences are missing a subject or predicate, when their writing is too adverb heavy, when modifiers are misplaced, and when they have too many prepositional phrases attached to the same noun.

 

Another school of thought is that diagramming helps people read. David Mulroy, classics professor at U Wisconsin and author of The War Against Grammar, finds diagramming essential when he is translating classical Greek texts into English. He also finds it useful for students faced with older written works that are heavy with dependent clauses, participles, gerunds, appositives, and multiple phrases. Diagramming helps them "untangle" complex language in order to understand its meaning. He gives the Declaration of Independence as an example of an important historical document that has language so convoluted (to our modern ears) that it may need to be untangled with a tool (such as diagramming) in order to be clearly understood by a young reader.

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Thanks Tina! I love your detailed description of the discussion that surrounds sentence parsing in your homeschool!!!

 

P.S. are you related to the Kentucky Gilberts?

Your welcome. I heart English grammar. Dh tells me I could be a great old granny librarian or English grammar teacher...tee hee

 

I'm not sure. Our Gilberts come from Canada by way of the Dutch by way of France....long line of Jill-bears.

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Personally, I am a math gal. Diagramming allows me to see it in an uncluttered format that makes sense.

 

To me a parsed sentence is visually cluttered and it is hard to see how it is functioning together as a whole. With parsing I just can't pull it together and see the function of each piece-I generally miss something. Either one of the parts or how one of the parts is function.

 

If I diagram it I can see it right off. Very soothing to us math people who find language confusing and abstract. :D

 

Heather

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This curriculum does other things I deem completely irrelevant such as casting out 9's. I have never checked my math by doing that and truly see no point in teaching it to my kids.

 

My friend whose DH is a CFO uses casting out 9's. I even use it now for checking calculations quickly. I had never heard of it before but my boys find it a neat trick rather than going over their calculations again.

 

As far as diagramming, I see it as a tool, some may need it, some may not. I won't go nearly as far with it as some books but for now, it helps to see what prep phrases are modifying, what adverbs are modifying etc. We do the same thing by simply circling the word or phrase and drawing an arrow to what it modifies.

 

In one of SWB's MP3s she gives several sentences and diagrams them (you can the slides at Peacehillpress.com) and explains how diagramming, IHO, helps to figure out what is wrong with the sentence.

Edited by Capt_Uhura
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I have found that diagramming, as well as sentence parsing, help give a visual picture of the function and "why" behind parts of speech. I find it helps me and some of my dc improve the ability to see the "work" a word does in the sentence and its relationship to other words. I also find it a useful tool in writing b/c if a sentence is not written quite right, we can diagram it and see what is incorrect. It's a tool. For example, I use it daily on sentence like this with my English grammar students:

 

Dad thanks Pam for the apple.

 

We're still parsing, but will diagram later this year. Here's how we break it down:

What is the simple predicate of this sentence? thanks

What is the work of a simple predicate. It shows action or being

Does "thanks" show action or being? action

Great. What is the simple subject of this sentence? Dad

What is the job of a simple subject? To show who or what the sentence is about.

Can you connect the simple subject to the simple predicate? Dad thanks

Great. What's an object? A noun in the sentence that is not the subject.

Good. Are there any objects in this sentence? Yes, Pam and apple.

Right. We know nouns have two jobs. They act as subjects or objects. They are also different kinds of nouns:common, proper, and pronoun. What kind of noun is the object, Pam? proper noun

Right. What about apple? common noun

Good. Let's look at what's left. The

What is the job of "the" in this sentence. It's an article.

What is an article? A kind of adjective.

What is the job of an adjective? to describe a noun

What do adjectives tell? How many, what kind of, which one.

What does "the" tell? Which one.

Which apple? the apple

Great. How do you mark and adjective in a sentence? With a tee pee (carrot top or arrow head work, too).

What word is the describing?

So, what's left? for

What is the job of "for"? It's a preposition.

What do prepositions always have? an object

So, what is the prepositional phrase in this sentence? for the apple

What is the job of a preposition? to show relationship from thing to another, direction, or location

How do I mark a prepositional phrase? parenthesis before the prep. and after the object

What relationship does for show us? thanked and apple.

 

This was actually from today's grammar lesson with my 2nd and 3rd grader. I believe they understand the work of each part of speech in a sentence and I see it in their dictation (to me) and narration b/c their sentences are more and more descriptive. The sentence markings allow them to focus on one application at a time. Additionally, if I find their not understanding something they're reading, I can break down a sentence for them like this and they can "see" the meaning.

 

As the second part of their grammar assignment, we substituted object and subject pronouns. It was pretty easy b/c all we had to do was look at the subject and objects marked, and we knew where to make changes. We talked about point of view (1st, 2nd 3rd person) and number (singular, plural).

 

I also see how diagramming a foreign language would help with syntax and declension understanding.

 

eta: I wanted to add that sentence parsing and diagramming are ONE tool to teach these skills, not the only way. In our home school, it has not been difficult or tedious to teach or learn. I will say, teaching thorough parsing has made it exciting (yes, I said exciting) for my Little League. They enjoy it. Somehow, they get a feeling of accomplishment when they get through each sentence and can demonstrate their understanding of written language, particularly for my language lovers. *I* get a thrill out of it too. I like it.

 

Great work! We do something similar, a sort of "grammar catechism" with my boys and surprisingly, they both enjoy it. My oldest also enjoys diagramming sentences.

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If it weren't for diagramming helping me "see" the way words went together-what their relationships were, most grammar would have been lost on me.

 

I love it.

 

It's like a find the missing pieces. You have this puzzle to put together and once you find what goes in what slot, it all comes together! I find it great fun when the grammar gets boring.

 

It's like a family tree, but for language.

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So please enlighten me: WHY should sentences be diagrammed? If I know the parts of speech, the structure of a sentence and can use these correctly in writing, what insight does diagramming give me and what can I use it for? (Or, asking the heretical question: can I skip it altogether? Seeing that it is not something that ever came up in my life so far....)

Thanks a lot.

 

We do diagramming because *I* think it's fun & it takes all of about 5 minutes a day. Once we get into super complicated sentences we'll probably talk about what we're doing & why, but right now the kids just do them & we move on. But again, I think diagramming is fun. To me, diagramming convoluted sentences is like solving a puzzle. I don't think it's the end of the world if you don't do it & I never used it in the ways SWB suggests when I was writing for college.

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You can be a well educated person and never diagram a sentence. I did have to do lots of it in school but it wasn't much help because there was so little other grammar instruction that we all just floundered about.

 

My son is good at it. It is a back door method for me to ensure he understands the parts of speech and how they work together. If a sentence is odd or seems poorly written I tell him to diagram. It makes short work of explaining what the problems are.

 

It is a very efficient way to learn grammar.

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This curriculum does other things I deem completely irrelevant such as casting out 9's. I have never checked my math by doing that and truly see no point in teaching it to my kids.

 

Casting 9's is wonderful!!!

 

First of all it is great for people who work with numbers and need a double check. When you are learning math you can live with a certain number of errors. When you are keeping books and calculating net income, salaries or taxes, you can't afford them (I know computers-but I have had to keep books by hand for some companies because they don't trust computers). It is also great for checking other simple calculations quickly. Most people, once they have made an error will continue to make it again. Casting 9's gives you a way to check that is different.

 

Beyond that it is a great way to figure out if a number is divisible by 3, 6 or 9. Take a number like 8991. If you use casting 9's you cast out the middle two numbers and are left with 8+1=9. Again you would cast it out getting 0. That tells you it is divisible by 9, and automatically by 3 also. If it is also even it would be divisible by 6, but it is not.

 

When I divide it out to make sure:

 

8991/9=999 (Yes)

8991/3=2997 (Yes)

8991/6=1498.5 (Nope)

 

The tests proved correct.

 

While not astounding, but it helps when doing long vision with large numbers and estimating. It gives you an idea of where to start.

 

Heather (super math geek)

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If I know the parts of speech, the structure of a sentence and can use these correctly in writing, what insight does diagramming give me and what can I use it for? (Or, asking the heretical question: can I skip it altogether? Seeing that it is not something that ever came up in my life so far....)

Thanks a lot.

 

I would like to cast a vote in favor of sentence diagramming for visually oriented people. Although I was never exposed to the concept in elementary and middle school English classes (and had no difficulties), I do not think I really understood English grammar until my high school Latin classes in which we diagrammed sentences. As others have noted, seeing this picture made more sense to me than any other form of analysis. (Note that I am also one of those people who approaches many math and physics problems by drawing pictures. That is how my brain works.)

 

So while you may not need to diagram a sentence to analyze it, I would suggest that if you have a visual learner in your home school, you consider this tool.

Edited by Jane in NC
clarity
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(Oops - Once again. Meant to post under the original post. I can't seem to put things in the right place today. SORRY!)

 

Sentence diagramming is incredibly useful around here.

 

Lazy kid who doesn't want to revise anything he writes EVER: "I like that sentence. I like the way it sounds."

 

Parent/teacher who believes that good writers make choices; it doesn't just "flow." :001_smile: "Really. Why do you like it?"

 

Kid: "No reason. I just like it."

 

Parent: "Let's diagram it to see how these words are working together to generate meaning."

 

We start; actually, we only get started. Early on we're both stumped. We find a huge clump of words that doesn't seem to GO anywhere on the diagram. Why? Because it doesn't actually DO anything. :001_smile:

 

For us diagramming is a quick, no-nonsense way to see faulty thinking which is masquerading as faulty writing. Clear thinking = clear writing. Diagramming is a simple quick way to see UNclear writing which is usually a cover up for unclear thinking.

 

For us diagramming is the best way to ferret that out around here with egotistical teenagers who don't want to actually do the WORK to arrive at clear writing. I have other tools, but very often diagramming is the easiest claw to use to pull out a whacked-over nail. And that process STARTS with agreeing that the nail is bent. Sometimes the teenager really just wants to argue that he specifically chose that "witty" clump of words; he wants to sound edgy. We both know he didn't select that pile of letters; they fell out while he wasn't paying attention. Diagramming is the quickest short-cut I've found to get to a starting point: Yes, the nail is bent but I didn't want to take the time to pull it out and drive a new one. :001_smile:

 

Works for us,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

Edited by Janice in NJ
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Although I don't think it is essential, I have always found diagramming useful (and perversely fun), especially when determining what words various clauses and phrases modify.

 

There are two schools of thought. One, which I heard in one of SWB's lectures, is that diagramming helps people write. It helps keep modifiers and the words they modify together in the sentence and helps writers balance their sentences. If a sentence sounds wrong, SWB asks the writer to diagram it in order to diagnose the problem. In this way, they can see when their sentences are missing a subject or predicate, when their writing is too adverb heavy, when modifiers are misplaced, and when they have too many prepositional phrases attached to the same noun.

 

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

Remember that discussion about the K12 Language Arts placement test about a week and a half ago? When I asked my DD to diagram the sentences in the questions she missed, she was able to figure out the correct answer. Whether a particular phrase is acting as an adverb or an adjective becomes very obvious when diagrammed.

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Regentrude, you don't NEED to diagram an inflected language, because the relationships are already obvious. I studied russian, and this was totally the case. You couldn't even speak the language correctly if you didn't understand the relationships. But in english these relationships are implied and not made clear by endings most of the time. There are even times when multiple interpretations might work. Diagramming is a visual way to show what is going on, and it is a standard, common tool. I don't have a degree in english, but I took quite a few ESL/TESOL classes in college as well as advanced grammar and linguistics. We used diagramming and covered many theories of diagramming in english. So not only is it valuable, but it's something some kids will need to see later.

 

If you're doing latin or another heavily inflected language, you're probably already either diagramming or doing other methods that help them see the relationships. In this case, I don't think it's so terribly important. Nevertheless, I don't see the benefit of skipping it. It takes almost no time to diagram 1-3 sentences a week, and it gives them exposure to a powerful and common method of discussing english grammar. We simply pick one sentence out of our grammar that day and diagram it onto the whiteboard.

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I got through a masters in linguistics without ever diagramming a sentence using prescriptive grammar. I doubt it is necessary for every child, but I don't think it can hurt, and I imagine it is very useful for *some* children. We'll be doing it because I love grammar and it may be useful. If my dc really can't stand it then I'll take time to thoroughly investigate what type of children have found it useful and why.

Edited by crstarlette
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So please enlighten me: WHY should sentences be diagrammed?

 

I did a very tiny bit of diagraming when I was in 5th grade in the States. Didn't know why I was learning it, and didn't know it was supposed to be useful for something else. I saw it as just one more thing I had to learn in order to get good grades.

 

However, in my homeschooling research, when I learned more about diagraming and how useful it can be, I became convinced to learn it and help my kids learn it. Here's why:

 

For reading and listening (simple books, complicated books, debates, lectures, sermons, newspapers, magazines, forum posts :D; anytime anyone else is telling you something through these media): My opinion is that as you learn the parts of speech and how sentences are constructed, diagraming becomes a quick and efficient way of taking a sentence apart. Why do I think this is very useful? It's a quick and efficient way to see what it really means, rather than having to go through a discussion about what it means. And if something doesn't fit on the diagram, you might be prompted by your mind to ask questions about what exactly the author/speaker meant.

 

For writing:

On the flip side of reading and listening, I have found that diagraming becomes a quick and efficient way to take apart a sentence you have written, in order to find out why the sentence doesn't quite make sense. If you can take your sentence apart using a diagram and see how it's not fitting together, then you can fix your sentence to make it clearer. It makes your writing much easier for others to understand.

 

For logical thinking: I think that using the ability to analyze via diagraming can also assist in learning formal logic skills. I started a formal logic course last summer, and right away I saw that grammatical terms were used to teach the structure of an argument. So, if diagraming has been helpful to a person in understanding sentence construction, that background will come in very handy for learning the structure of logical thinking. Which I think comes right back around to being applied to reading/listening and writing. Those logical skills that were built on a grammar knowledge assisted by diagraming will further assist in being able to read/listen and write critically. Then I can make a well-reasoned decision to agree or disagree with what I'm being told.

 

Like many others here, I've lived perfectly happily for years without being able to diagram. But learning this new-to-me tool in the past few years has served to make me a sharper thinker (which I am so thankful for), which goes on to help me in many other ways. I don't get so easily swayed anymore by what someone is telling me/writing to me - I am able to stop and think about it efficiently. I can be more objective while thinking through someone's argument, and make my own decision, instead of just going where the wind blows like I used to tend to do. And yes I do diagram sentences in my mind quite often when I think someone is trying to sway me to an opinion. :D Then what happens is that I find that:

 

- the sentence is perfectly constructed, so I can grasp the meaning right away

- the sentence has a flaw in it, and I wonder what the person is trying to say. I can then ask for clarification, guess (and risk being incorrect) or move on if I don't really care.

 

I think it's a great tool - sorta like a painter trying to paint a wall - he/she can either use a 4 inch paintbrush, or he/she can use a 12 inch roller and paint the wall more quickly and neatly so that it's prettier to look at and easier to clean.

 

Oh and one more thing - I agree with Jane - maybe *you* don't need it, but if you are asking on behalf of a child, I'd encourage you to think about the reasons people gave in this thread and ask yourself if diagraming might be beneficial to the child. I haven't found that it's this huge, time-consuming thing to learn - we learn bits of it as they come up in our grammar text. And it *is* fun to use, once you get the hang of it! :D

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Personally, I am a math gal. Diagramming allows me to see it in an uncluttered format that makes sense.

 

To me a parsed sentence is visually cluttered and it is hard to see how it is functioning together as a whole. With parsing I just can't pull it together and see the function of each piece-I generally miss something. Either one of the parts or how one of the parts is function.

 

If I diagram it I can see it right off. Very soothing to us math people who find language confusing and abstract. :D

 

Heather

 

I am NOT a math gal, but my son is math guy, and we started diagramming for the first time today! (I just started hs Jan. 3.) I had to post in this thread, and it tickled me to see this post already! My son has sighed and groaned through grammar since day one, but he really liked the diagramming today! He is very scientifically and mathematically minded, and something about the diagram really resonated with him. He wanted to skip ahead and try some harder sentences to see if he could figure it out.

 

So, my advice, don't knock it 'til you try it! Maybe it will be a fit, maybe it won't, but at least you'll know.

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I'm so glad to read these responses! My son just finished up JAG, and I elected to skip the diagramming portions of the workbook. I will admit that I was uncertain as to whether or not that was wise. However, he really understood the parts of speech, and he did NOT enjoy diagramming- at all! So, I decided to just skip it. He never, ever had a problem. I think, for him, it might have just turned him off of the subject entirely. I do believe that I will teach him in the future when he is taking the higher level grammar programs, but I didn't find it necessary for sixth grade.

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Guest Cheryl in SoCal

I'm sure you all already know this, but I wanted to mention that not all methods of parsing are equal. Shurley English's parsing is IMHO far better than AG's, and MCT's 4 Level Analysis is head and shoulders above any method of parsing I've ever seen.

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I'm sure you all already know this, but I wanted to mention that not all methods of parsing are equal. Shurley English's parsing is IMHO far better than AG's, and MCT's 4 Level Analysis is head and shoulders above any method of parsing I've ever seen.

 

I wouldn't say it is better just has different goals. I would state it more as some programs go into more detail than others, not a bad good thing.

 

In AG the goal of parsing is to facilitate diagramming. They purposely use bigger bucks instead of the fine details that parsing generally includes. It works for a different type of learner.

 

That said I do agree that many program go much more in depth. After having AG I could follow the deeper grammar and parsing in CW without a problem, but if I had tried to learn it in the order of CW without doing AG first I would have been lost in the details. I need to see the big picture and then fit in the pieces one at a time in order. Once I have that big picture I can go deeper into the types and class of pronouns, nouns, etc. Make sense?

 

I think they work for different learning styles. Though I haven't used the other programs, so maybe they would work. I just know that through high school and college I was always totally lost in grammar. I only passed my senior English class by reading Roots for extra credit. :001_huh: But not only am I a right brained thinker but I am also very literal. Thus when they told me to find the subject and then predicate of the sentence I generally got stuck there. It never dawned on me to eliminate other parts of speech first to make it less confusing. Thus half the genius of AG, for me, is the order they teach you to use.

 

Heather

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Guest Cheryl in SoCal
I wouldn't say it is better just has different goals. I would state it more as some programs go into more detail than others, not a bad good thing.

 

In AG the goal of parsing is to facilitate diagramming. They purposely use bigger bucks instead of the fine details that parsing generally includes. It works for a different type of learner.

 

That said I do agree that many program go much more in depth. After having AG I could follow the deeper grammar and parsing in CW without a problem, but if I had tried to learn it in the order of CW without doing AG first I would have been lost in the details. I need to see the big picture and then fit in the pieces one at a time in order. Once I have that big picture I can go deeper into the types and class of pronouns, nouns, etc. Make sense?

 

I think they work for different learning styles. Though I haven't used the other programs, so maybe they would work. I just know that through high school and college I was always totally lost in grammar. I only passed my senior English class by reading Roots for extra credit. :001_huh: But not only am I a right brained thinker but I am also very literal. Thus when they told me to find the subject and then predicate of the sentence I generally got stuck there. It never dawned on me to eliminate other parts of speech first to make it less confusing. Thus half the genius of AG, for me, is the order they teach you to use.

 

Heather

I was speaking of using AG for parsing instead of diagramming because at least one person in the thread mentioned doing just that. I'm not sure why one would use AG if they don't intend on teaching diagramming because that is it's goal, and why I feel their parsing is inferior. AG just didn't work for us (and I DO like diagramming) but the reason had nothing to do with their parsing.

 

Shurley English's parsing is much more detailed than AG's but still IMHO far inferior to MCT's 4 Level Analysis, especially when it comes to phrases and clauses.

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We have The Magic Lens from MCT and the 4 level analysis didn't impress me as a stand alone. For ME it was fine, as I have always enjoyed language and have a natural knack for it. However, it strikes as me as being designed for someone who already has a very good grip on grammar. My son has been in ps until just this month, and has NEVER studied formal grammar before. He regards the entire MCT program with absolute indifference.

 

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

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Guest Cheryl in SoCal
We have The Magic Lens from MCT and the 4 level analysis didn't impress me as a stand alone. For ME it was fine, as I have always enjoyed language and have a natural knack for it. However, it strikes as me as being designed for someone who already has a very good grip on grammar. My son has been in ps until just this month, and has NEVER studied formal grammar before. He regards the entire MCT program with absolute indifference.

 

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

I think he should have started with a lower level. I believe you are correct in the Magic Lens assuming that the student already has good grip on grammar. That might not change your opinion completely but I do think jumping in at the Magic Lens level with a child who hasn't had formal grammar would definitely lead to frustration.

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I was speaking of using AG for parsing instead of diagramming because at least one person in the thread mentioned doing just that. I'm not sure why one would use AG if they don't intend on teaching diagramming because that is it's goal, and why I feel their parsing is inferior. AG just didn't work for us (and I DO like diagramming) but the reason had nothing to do with their parsing.

 

Shurley English's parsing is much more detailed than AG's but still IMHO far inferior to MCT's 4 Level Analysis, especially when it comes to phrases and clauses.

 

Yes I wouldn't see the point in using AG if you weren't going to do the diagramming, at least not without modifying the parsing. Especially because it really doesn't even do true parsing with tables, but just writing it above the sentence. In addition, you don't parse direct objects, indirect objects, object of the preposition...you leave them all labeled as nouns or pronouns and then in the diagramming you demonstrate their uses in the sentences. This is part of why AG worked for me where so many other programs left me confused (and I tried to go through Hervey's before I did AG). You would be better off using something that was parsing focused.

 

CW uses Harvey's grammar, and does so because it goes into great detail. CW uses formal parsing tables as well. I bet you would love it! After doing AG Havey's hasn't been difficult for me to understand. I just couldn't pull all the pieces together till I saw the bigger picture with AG.

 

Heather

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Guest Cheryl in SoCal
Yes I wouldn't see the point in using AG if you weren't going to do the diagramming, at least not without modifying the parsing. Especially because it really doesn't even do true parsing with tables, but just writing it above the sentence. In addition, you don't parse direct objects, indirect objects, object of the preposition...you leave them all labeled as nouns or pronouns and then in the diagramming you demonstrate their uses in the sentences. This is part of why AG worked for me where so many other programs left me confused (and I tried to go through Hervey's before I did AG). You would be better off using something that was parsing focused.

 

CW uses Harvey's grammar, and does so because it goes into great detail. CW uses formal parsing tables as well. I bet you would love it! After doing AG Havey's hasn't been difficult for me to understand. I just couldn't pull all the pieces together till I saw the bigger picture with AG.

 

Heather

With MCT there are separate lines for parts of speech (noun, adjective, etc) and parts of the sentence (subjects, objects, etc) so they are addressed separately in it also, which is one reason I find it superior to the parsing method used by Shurley. It also has separate lines for phrases and clauses, hence the name 4 Level Analysis. Only prepositional phrases were parsed in Shurley and clauses weren't covered until the last level, and then not until the end of the last level.

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Yeah, live and learn, I guess. I bought The First Whole Book of Diagrams, and I think it's really neat. I'm going to use it, a little MCT, and my own mind to teach him grammar for the rest of this year. He really enjoyed the diagramming and I think there is a lot of good information in the MCT books--I'm just tweaking it a little to make a little more tolerable for him. My son likes the sentences in MCT, so I think diagramming them will be fun and challenging for him.

 

It's next year that I'm wondering about. I was looking at AG myself and liked the look of it, but obviously I'm a fan of diagramming. In my humble opinion, as long as the end result is the same (i.e. my son with a firm grasp on the use of our language) I will follow whatever path is necessary.

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Guest Cheryl in SoCal
Yeah, live and learn, I guess. I bought The First Whole Book of Diagrams, and I think it's really neat. I'm going to use it, a little MCT, and my own mind to teach him grammar for the rest of this year. He really enjoyed the diagramming and I think there is a lot of good information in the MCT books--I'm just tweaking it a little to make a little more tolerable for him. My son likes the sentences in MCT, so I think diagramming them will be fun and challenging for him.

 

It's next year that I'm wondering about. I was looking at AG myself and liked the look of it, but obviously I'm a fan of diagramming. In my humble opinion, as long as the end result is the same (i.e. my son with a firm grasp on the use of our language) I will follow whatever path is necessary.

If you want to stick with MCT I'd back up to either Grammar Voyage or Grammar Town. Others who are more experience will hopefully pipe in but I would be reluctant to continue the Magic Lens with a child his age who has not had any formal grammar even with significant tweaking.

 

We couldn't stand AG but many here love it. I too like diagramming and tried to like it but just couldn't. I've kept it for reference when it comes to diagramming (I'm going to add some diagramming to MCT) but my kids literally wanted to burn it. The only other curriculum they wanted to burn was Saxon math, though I wanted to burn it as well:lol:

Edited by Cheryl in SoCal
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Piggybacking a question - In SWB"s MP3, she talks about using diagramming to see why a sentence works or doesn't work. For example, you can see if there are too many phrases together rather than spread out evenly in the sentence. I regularly check out Rex Barks but I don't recall seeing anything in there about good sentences and how they diagram. KWIM? Do any of the diagramming books SWB recommended talk about what makes good sentences and seeing that through diagramming?

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Piggybacking a question - In SWB"s MP3, she talks about using diagramming to see why a sentence works or doesn't work. For example, you can see if there are too many phrases together rather than spread out evenly in the sentence. I regularly check out Rex Barks but I don't recall seeing anything in there about good sentences and how they diagram. KWIM? Do any of the diagramming books SWB recommended talk about what makes good sentences and seeing that through diagramming?

 

I know exactly what you are talking about--that's where I heard about The First Whole Book of Diagrams. The section in the back of the book is the Teacher's Manual, and it goes over each section pretty well. I don't really think it specifies "good sentences." My perspective is that this is a wonderful reference book, not necessarily a stand-alone program. I'm not familiar with the other programs she talks about, so someone else will have to offer input on that.

 

As far as sticking with MCT, I'm not sure that I am. I haven't looked at Grammar Town or Voyage, but I will certainly check them out. My son actually seems to know a lot more grammar than I would have given him credit for, and even though we could back down a level in the MCT books, it's still the same TYPE of program, and it just doesn't seem to be a good fit for him. It's a shame, because I really like it.

 

We've really hijacked this thread, btw, but I'll finish by saying that I am a big fan of diagramming, just because it's fun! My English L/A teacher in middle school had us keep a diagramming notebook and there was a new sentence on the board each day when we came into class. Just a little FYI.

Edited by Mommybostic
I think faster than I type.
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Guest Cheryl in SoCal
I know exactly what you are talking about--that's where I heard about The First Whole Book of Diagrams. The section in the back of the book is the Teacher's Manual, and it goes over each section pretty well. I don't really think it specifies "good sentences." My perspective is that this is a wonderful reference book, not necessarily a stand-alone program. I'm not familiar with the other programs she talks about, so someone else will have to offer input on that.

 

As far as sticking with MCT, I'm not sure that I am. I haven't looked at Grammar Town or Voyage, but I will certainly check them out. My son actually seems to know a lot more grammar than I would have given him credit for, and even though we could back down a level in the MCT books, it's still the same TYPE of program, and it just doesn't seem to be a good fit for him. It's a shame, because I really like it.

 

We've really hijacked this thread, btw, but I'll finish by saying that I am a big fan of diagramming, just because it's fun! My English L/A teacher in middle school had us keep a diagramming notebook and there was a new sentence on the board each day when we came into class. Just a little FYI.

Do check out Grammar Town or Grammar Voyage if you think you might want to use MCT. My 9th and 10th grade sons are currently doing Grammar Voyage and even though they completed 5 years of Shurley English they are finding parts of it (phrases and clauses) to be challenging. I wasn't planning on starting then with grammar until next year using the Magic Lens Volume 1 but we've been doing Paragraph Town (we're remediating for composition) and the sentences it was having them parse were too difficult for them because they didn't have enough background with phrases and clauses. We'll move on to the Magic Lens 1 next year. I might have been able to start the Magic Lens 1 with them this year but I'm waiting for the revised version to come out, I already had Grammar Voyage, and they are finding it plenty challenging.

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I am a big fan of diagramming, just because it's fun! My English L/A teacher in middle school had us keep a diagramming notebook and there was a new sentence on the board each day when we came into class. Just a little FYI.

 

Check this out: http://www.themillions.com/2009/02/diagramming-obama-sentence_16.html This was something else that convinced me of the necessity for learning diagraming.

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Piggybacking a question - In SWB"s MP3, she talks about using diagramming to see why a sentence works or doesn't work. For example, you can see if there are too many phrases together rather than spread out evenly in the sentence. I regularly check out Rex Barks but I don't recall seeing anything in there about good sentences and how they diagram. KWIM? Do any of the diagramming books SWB recommended talk about what makes good sentences and seeing that through diagramming?

 

:bigear:

Because what I REALLY need is another English book on my shelves :tongue_smilie:

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Check this out: http://www.themillions.com/2009/02/diagramming-obama-sentence_16.html This was something else that convinced me of the necessity for learning diagraming.

 

Actually, I found the sentence itself beautifully balanced and effective, and and I was able to appreciate its structure upon reading it. The diagram, on the other hand, was horribly confusing for me. Guess I'm not a visual person.

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With MCT there are separate lines for parts of speech (noun, adjective, etc) and parts of the sentence (subjects, objects, etc) so they are addressed separately in it also, which is one reason I find it superior to the parsing method used by Shurley. It also has separate lines for phrases and clauses, hence the name 4 Level Analysis. Only prepositional phrases were parsed in Shurley and clauses weren't covered until the last level, and then not until the end of the last level.

 

Cheryl, I wasn't convinced that one way or the other was superior, but my dd's experience with both was enlightening. As a product of private and public schools, she was taught grammar separately and was never taught to diagram. The schools here see "grammar as secondary to comprehension." Go figure. She is home for her senior year and while she has an intuitive grasp of grammar, she does not enjoy studying it. I started her with Magic Lens, Vol. 1 and had her take concise notes on the first portion of the book covering the 4 levels. Then I set her to work on the 4Practice sentences. At first her eyes glazed over. Then she got to a point where she realized if she thought of it like a grid that is similar to logic puzzles, there was nothing in there that she couldn't figure out with an occasional peek at her notes. She can work on far more complex sentences now with the same results. I also taught her diagramming. She said it helps her to locate what modifies what, but she gets stuck and has nowhere to go. With 4-level analysis, if you are not sure what part of speech a word is, you can drop down a level or two and figure the answer out from what type of clause or phrase you are looking at. Grammar has become more of a game, although I am not sure she will ever love those mammoth diagramming projects in the back of CW Homer.

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Piggybacking a question - In SWB"s MP3, she talks about using diagramming to see why a sentence works or doesn't work. For example, you can see if there are too many phrases together rather than spread out evenly in the sentence. I regularly check out Rex Barks but I don't recall seeing anything in there about good sentences and how they diagram. KWIM? Do any of the diagramming books SWB recommended talk about what makes good sentences and seeing that through diagramming?

 

 

Pg 99 of Rx Barks is the first sentence to the Declaration of Independence (when in the course of human events...)

 

*hangs head* (yes, I own that one, too)

 

Though I think your question is actually answered in the forward.

 

If you want something to start slower, Spelling and Reading with Riggs-The Complete Book of Diagrams is fun.

 

I really want Sister's Bernadette. Really. I've had it in my cart for a long time.

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Actually, I found the sentence itself beautifully balanced and effective, and and I was able to appreciate its structure upon reading it. The diagram, on the other hand, was horribly confusing for me. Guess I'm not a visual person.

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

 

I too found the sentence easy to read and understand, while the diagram was baffling. However, I knew already that I wasn't a visual person--maps make me crazy, while written directions are perfect! Unless one of my dc turns out to be super visual, I think I will stick with the 4 level analysis. :D

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Ok that's impressive!

 

Whoa.

 

That's a freakin tree.

 

;I AM visual and I was thinking..ooooooh aaahhhhh when I saw it!

 

I know!!! I was in awe the first time I ever saw this!! I don't understand half of how it's structured (still absorbing my grammar skills), but I appreciated that his sentence was clear enough to be diagramed! Somewhere I saw a partial diagram of a sentence said by Sarah Palin, and it couldn't be diagramed all the way. Maybe I should say it wasn't so much Obama's diagram that convinced me, as it was Palin's. I sometimes don't know what someone is trying to say, but this really helped me to know that her thought was mixed up and not communicated clearly!

 

EDIT: aha, here it is (disclaimer: this is JUST for grammar-talk purposes, not political talk!)

 

http://www.slate.com/id/2201158/

 

The act of diagraming is very objective, yes? :D

Edited by Colleen in NS
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