Sentence diagramming may seem a small matter, but clarity of thought is essential to maintaining Catholic Christian civilization. Clarity of thought depends on being able to keep track of the way that words are related in complex sentences and sentence diagramming is simply the clearest way to do that.
Of course once you have clarity of thought, the great thing is to have worthwhile thoughts. Emily Dickinson is one of the greatest and least-known poets of America. For an introduction to her work, read Into Deep Eternity.
This is a text of sentence diagrams arranged by chapter in order of increasing difficulty. The first chapter consists entirely of two-word sentences subject and verb. The next chapter adds articles, the next adjectives, and so on. Chapter seven introduces prepositional phrases. There are sixteen chapters in all. The intent is that by reading many diagrams, a beginning diagrammer will acquire a feel for this way of analyzing syntax.
The green pages in the middle of the book are a teacher's manual. They will help you to use the book effectively. Final sections illustrate the value of syntax for understanding complex English, both prose and poetry. Sentence diagrams are unquestionably the best way to map the word relationships within a sentence; only when we can understand how words are related in a complicated sentence can we study a complex thought.
In this new edition, many new pages have been added, several diagrams have been corrected, and some lovely illustrations have been provided to lighten the study with appropriate beauty. Thanks to all who helped me with the corrections.
(A note about the title. There are two versions of this book, which have been on the market simultaneously, meeting different needs. With this edition, the title originally conceived for Catholic educational purposes has been restored to the publication, -- this is The First Whole Book of Diagrams.)
If you would like to share the book with public school friends, have them contact the Riggs InstituteRiggs@riggsinst.org for the public school version, called The Complete Book of Diagrams.
210 pages $26
Elementary Diagramming Worktext
This text is written for the student (or teacher) who is completely unfamiliar with sentence diagramming. It explains elementary diagrams and offers practice pages with answers. It should be possible for the average fourth grader to use this with minimal help from his teacher.
68 pages worktext, 30 pages answers
New printing is perfect bound in a soft ivory cover.
Single copy with right to copy consumable pages for family use, $15.
Same in combination with the First Whole Book of Diagrams, $10.
Single copy with classroom or local support group copyright, $25.
1.Do the two books, The First Whole Book of Diagrams and the Elementary Diagramming Worktext, go together?
Yes, they go together, except that the Elementary Diagramming Worktext does not go as far. Its chapter titles, however, match those of The First Whole Book of Diagrams, so you will be able to use them together. The worktext will supply sentence diagramming examples to work out as you work through The First Whole Book of Diagrams. On the other hand, if you start with the worktext, you will find that the chapters of The First Whole Book of Diagrams give you reading practice in diagrams.
2.And what would be the use of reading practice in diagrams? Is anybody writing sentence-diagrammed novels?
Nobody but me! But diagramming is a mental exercise, not a hand exercise. Reading is a way of learning diagramming by immersion, as it were. Since this is the fashion in foreign languages, I thought I’d try it in English syntax.
3.Do I need both books?
You do not need both books, though I think you will like them! Each one was written to stand alone. The First Whole Book of Diagrams has a teacher’s manual (the green pages) to help you work with it, and it goes much farther. You will want it if you do advanced language work. The Elementary Diagramming Worktex has explanations for each chapter, designed to make the concepts clear. It is easy to use for elementary purposes.
4. Which book should I get?
The First Whole Book of Diagrams has more information and goes farther. It is the best single resource for someone who is already familiar with diagramming and just wants more support for teaching it. Or a family that is using an English program with some diagramming may use it to go farther with this way of presenting syntax.
The Elementary Diagramming Worktex is particularly designed for independent use by middle school children or for a teacher/mother who is completely new to diagrams and perhaps a little nervous.
5.What about The Complete Book of Diagrams? What is that?
The Complete Book of Diagrams is the public school version of the original diagramming book. It does not contain references to God, but it does have the same commitment to the beauty and clarity that lead to God.
6.I understand that you are a Catholic. Would it be better for me to get the Complete Book of Diagrams to avoid content that might be contrary to my faith?
The First Whole Book of Diagrams includes references to scripture, some direct, some indirect, and to a visit to Church with lilies. Later in the book, there are some quotations from Catholic philosophers, and some wonderful poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a Catholic. So far, no Protestant user has found the material objectionable, and I’m guessing, on balance, that a Christian will prefer this version. The other, The Complete Book of Diagrams, is available from Riggs’ Institute, http://www.riggsinst.org/catalog02.htm which also carries the most thorough phonics program in the country and a number of supporting English resources.
7.When should a child begin sentence diagramming?
The day you teach your child that “every sentence has a subject and a verb” is the day you should do chapter one of the diagramming book (either one). Some people are doing this in first grade, and Riggs Institude recommends this early introduction. It is completely reasonable as long as your child is reading fluently. You don’t want to present words on slanted lines before he is comfortable with words arranged horizontally.
I am aware that some people believe that this type of analysis is better suited to the late middle school years and is inappropriate for younger children. The detailed syntactic analysis that is called parsing probably doesn’t belong in the early grades, but diagramming is so visual that I see no reason to wait for middle school. I do know that many students love diagramming, regarding it as a kind of delightful puzzle.