English Grammar

Purpose Statement 

Over the years I have come to appreciate the contribution that a thorough knowledge of English grammar can make to my intellectual life. I am disturbed at the lack of instruction in grammar in many of today's classrooms. I emphasize the parts of speech and their function in creating effective sentences. This page will feature readily available information that can contribute to a functional understanding of this vital subject.      

Reference Section

Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg Higher Lessons in English, A Work on English Grammar and Composition, in which the Science of Language is Made Tributary to the Art of Expression by Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg (1913). The grandaddy of all school grammars. Famous for introducing the Reed-Kellogg, Base-Modifier Sentence Diagrams. 

Introductory Langauge Work: A Simple, Varied, and Pleasing, But Methodical, Series of Exercises in English to Precede the Study of Technical Grammar. (1898) by Alonzo Reed. A very attractive grammar for beginners. 

A Key Containing Diagrams of the Reed Kellogg Higher Lessons in Grammar. This is the Key for the above book. 

Elementary English Grammar (1894). Also by Reed & Kellogg but for elementary school children. 

Reed-Kellogg Diagrammer: This is a program that will diagram sentences. 

The English Language: A Brief History of Its Grammatical Changes and Its Vocabulary (1893) by Reed & Kellogg. A very readable work of great value to older students and teachers. 

Sentence Analysis (1965) by Donald W. Emery. Perhaps the best explanation of sentence diagramming. Here is the 1947 edition of A Grammar of Present-Day English by R. W. Pence. Pence teamed up with Emery for a 1963 revision, which has been my go-to English grammar for many years. 

Inductive Studies in English Grammar (1984) by W. R. Harper and Isaac Burgess. This is a unique traditional grammar. It builds a whole grammar of English off a single paragraph by Hawthorne. I highly recommend this grammar.

Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition - Third Course. This free pdf is worth its weight in digital gold. 

A New English Grammar (1916) by E. A. Sonnenschein. Right at the top of my favorite grammar list. Very complete yet attractive. 

Teach Yourself English Grammar by B A. Phythian (1984) Quite frankly, one of the most practical English grammars available today. 

The Parts of Speech: An Easy Grammar for Beginners (1883) by William B. Irvine. My sixth grade students love studying this book with me. It helps them with their grammar and their reading. 

A Primer of English Parsing and Analysis (1883) by Cyril L. C. Locke. In spite of it rather imposing title, it is an exciting work that includes exercises from some of the finest literature in the English Language. Upper elementary students can benefit greatly from this fine work. 

GRAMMAR-LAND OR, GRAMMAR IN FUN FOR CHILDREN OF SCHOOLROOM-SHIRE (1878) by M. L. Nesbitt, A truly unique and enjoyable grammar for children. 

General Language: A Series of Lessons in Grammar, Word Study, and History of the English Language for Junior High School by (1925) Sterling A. Leonard and Riah Fagan Cox. 

Practical Studies in Sentence Analysis by Howard L. Hunt, 1919.

Elements of English Grammar (1908) by George Philip Krapp. One of he best grammars for study. 

S. G. Green's 1875 Grammar of the English Language.

Sheldon's Primary Language Lessons (1895). Excellent lessons for young children. 

First Lessons in English Grammar (1914) by the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Used in Catholic schools. 

"Rules He Lived By: Honest Abe's Book of Grammar" (2009) by Nicholas A. Basnabes. Here is a video on Lincoln's Grammar. Here is Samuel Kirkham's English Grammar (1834) for those earnest to acquire a self-education in English Grammar to prepare them to be useful and articulate American citizens, a powerful antidote to the constructivist philosophy that has deconstructed much of modern American education. I should also like to recommend Kirkham's later (1852) An Essay on Elocution, which is noteworthy for its many passages for oral reading practice.   

Here is Webster's "An Improved Grammar of the English Language, 1833, 1843. 

The Essentials of the English Sentence (1900) by Elias J. MacEwean. One of tHhe clearest and most helpful grammars I have ever studied. 

Discover Grammar (1996) An excellent grammar based on modern linguistics. 

Doing Grammar (1991) by Max Morenberg. One of the most enjoyable, helpful, and easy-to-understand grammars available. Here is the 1997 2nd editon, which is considerably enlarged. 

Guide to Grammar and Writing. Up to date and very helpful. 

Grammar for Kids. An interactive website with lots of fun games for learning grammar. 

English Lab Work by Dennis Doyle. It is for his English class, but the material is very useful.

The Structure of the English Sentence (1900) by Lillian Kimball. This is one of my favorite grammar books. It presents grammar in a most interesting and logical manner with many examples from the best writers of the time. I have a mint copy of this wonderful book, which I got when the public library in Ridgeville, Indiana was getting rid of a lot of books because the floor of the old building was starting to sag. You can also read it on line: The English Sentence. The author also wrote an excellent English Grammar (1912). 

Style: Toward Clarity and Grace (1990) by Joseph M. Williams. This is my all time favorite. Load this on your iPad, read it, and watch your writing style flourish. 

A Complete Graded Course in English Grammar and Composition (1889) by Benjamin. Y. Conklin. This book is worth a whole day surfing the Internet. It is complete, practical, and interesting. I have learned a great deal from it. He also wrote Practical Lessons in Language (1893), which is for younger children. 

Sentences and Thinking: A Practice Book in Sentence Making (1919) by Norman Foerster & J. M. Steadman. This is a great treasure. No one can study it serious without improving their writing and their enjoyment of writing. 

An Analysis of the English Sentence (1901) by Marion Nelson Beerman. A delightful little book that is not afraid of coupling logic and grammar. 

English Syntax and Analysis Simplified (1884) by Mrs. M. D. L. Haynie. A book that truly lives up to its title. 

A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language for the Use of Schools (1861) by Simon Kerl. One of the most delightful and helpful grammars ever written. He also wrote A Shorter Course in English Grammar (1871) that is also excellent. Kerl also wrote Elements of Composition and Rhetoric: Practical, Concise, and Comprehensive (1868), that deserve our consideration. 

How to Write: A Handbook Based on the English Bible (1906) by Charles Sears Baldwin, A.M., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Rhetoric in Yale University. Here is another free edition: How to Write. He also wrote a College Manual of Rhetoric, that I highly recommend for advanced high school students, college students, and every adult who wishes to improve their writing. 

Common School Grammar (1881) William Chauncey Fowler. A superb grammar with lots of examples and exercises. Fowler wrote an earlier (1855) and much more extensive grammar: The English Language in its Elements and Forms with a History of its Origin and Development. It is unusual because of its inclusion of section on Logic, which seems logical in a book on language. 

Grammatical Vocabulary: A Plea for the Re-Introduction of Grammatical Concepts in Our Schools (1999) by Daniel A. Carter. I say a hearty AMEN to this book. 

Grammar Made Easy, for Beginners (1853) by Sarah Guernsey. A delightful little grammar for children. 

Nash's Synthetic Grammar, Adapted to the Instruction of Private Students, containing rules and observations well illustrated for assisting the student to write with perspicuity and accuracy (1876, 1884) by H. A. Nash. 

A Grammar of Present Day English (1919) by Carl Holliday. A real gem of a grammar appropriate for junior high or high school students. Especially good for adults who want to go back and review the basics. 

The Elements of Style (1920) by William Strunk, Jr. This is a wonderful resource on style. This is the original edition, not the later revision by White. 

A Short Overview of English Syntax (Based on The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language) by Rodney Huddleston

Our Language: English Grammar (1903) by Alphonso Smith. This is a very excellent pedagogical grammar that would benefit anyone who disciplines themselves to work through it. 

The Institutes of English Grammar (1856) Goold Brown. A very comprehensive work. 

Descriptive English Grammar (1934) by Harman and House. A splendid English grammar. 

Miller’s Analytical and Practical Grammar of the English Language (1867). A Canadian work of great value. 

Sentence Analysis by Diagram: A Handbook for the Review of English (1915) by Henry C. Edgar. He also wrote A Minimun Course in Rhetoric (1922), that is excellent. Edgar recommended A  Modern English Grammar Revised (1914) by Huber Gray Buehler. The two books complement each other. Buehler’s grammar is at the top of my list. 

Elements of English Grammar (1908) by George Philip Krapp. A nice grammar. The linking verbs are diagrammed a bit differently that Reed-Kellogg.  

Progressing with Courage: English 6 by Rod and Staff. Hands down the best English Grammar available today for homeschool. I taught the 4th grade program one year with very satisfactory results. The students came back years later to tell me it was their favorite class, and several even went on to major in English in college. 

Edwin Abbott: British Grammar Master

How to Write Clearly by Edwin Abbott, 1890. An excellent expositon of the principles of clear writing. 

How to Parse. Another book by Edwin Abbott. A marvelous work. 

English Lessons for English People by Edwin Abbott, 1901. This is a masterwork. 

His Hints on Home Teaching will be most helpful to homeschool parents. 

How to Tell the Parts of Speech: An Introduction to English Grammar. Another book by Edwin Abbott. 

A Shakespearian Grammar: An Attempt to illustrate Some of the Differences Between Elizabethan and Modern English - for the Use of Schools (1869). A compendium of Shakespeare”s grammar; od bus still useful, especially the “Introduction.” This would also benefit students of the KJV Bible. 

Advanced Modern Grammar and Linguistics

Introduction: This section is for advanced students with a background in linguistics and modern grammatical theory. Many visitors will prefer to leave this section to advanced specialist in the field.

Patterns of English: Teacher’s Edition (1956) Paul Roberts. An excellent structural grammar based on the work of Charles Fries. Designed for high school students. 

English Sentences (1962) by Paul Roberts. This is a high school grammar based on Structural Linguistics and introducing Transformational Grammar. i have found this grammar very helpful. 

An Outline of English Structure (1951, 1956, 1965) by George L. Trager & Henry Lee Smith, Jr. Seminal statement of the structuralist approach to English Grammar, pre-Chomsky. A number of grammars came out that were informed by this research. American English in Its Cultural Setting (1956) is one of my favorites by Donald J. Lloyd and Harry R. Warfel. Probably not many know that they developed a practical generative grammar based on the Trager-Smith system, independently of Norman Chomsky's work. 

Outline of Linguistic Analysis by Bernard Bloch and George L. Trager (1942). I found this book very helpful in my early foray into linguistics and language learning. Perhaps considered antiquated today, but I found it practical and helpful in my efforts to learn modern Spanish and ancient Greek. 

Outline Guide for the Practical Study of Foreign Language (1942) by Leonard Bloomfield. A very helpful book by the father of American Structural Linguistics. This book was published to be used in conjunction with the Bloch-Trager Outline of Linguistic Analysis above. 

The Outline of Linguistic Analysis and Outline Guide for the Practical Study of Foreign Language excellent material for language learners. 

An Introductory Course In Theoretical English Grammar

(2003) by Laimutis Valeika and Janina Buitkiene.

Modern English Linguistics, a readable college level introduction by John P. Broderick, Ph.D.

Charles Hockett's 1958 A Course in Modern Linguistics is a good introduction to structural linguistics as it was before the Chomsky Transformational Grammar Revolution. 

Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics (1955) by H. A. Gleason. I cut my linguistic teeth on 1961 edition of this great book, strong on discovery procedures.  

Language (1933) by Leonard Bloomfield. A classic in the field. 

Language: A Science of Human Behavior (1963) Harry R. Warfel. 

Linguistics for Dummies. An up-to-date, popular presentation, 

Practical Linguistics (1948) by Dean Pittman. A very helpful book oriented toward language learners, In the structuralist tradition, 

Introduction to Linguistics (2007, 2016).  Covers both structural linguistics and transformational, It is an attractive introduction to the whole field for beginners, 

English Grammar: A University Course (2006) by Angela Downing and Philip Locke. An advanced modern grammar, but very readable and interesting. 

A Modern English Grammar Revised (1900) by Buber Gray Buehler 

The story of English Grammar in United States Schools by Martha Kolln and Craig Hancock. Having followed the developments in English grammar instruction for the past 40 years, I find this interesting. I must confess, though that I find traditional grammar quite helpful and feel it should be taught until the “experts” can come up with something better. 

A History of the English Language by Albert C. Baugh & Thomas Cable. I have a hardback of an earlier edition. It is readable, interesting, and thorough. 

A Short Introduction to English Grammar (1959) by James Sledd. One of the first grammars published after the 1957 Wood Hole Conference, where educators discussed new development in linguistics. 

A Grammar of Written English (1961) by David Conlin. I consider this structural grammar one of the most practical. I have spent much delightful time studying this grammar. 

English Grammars and English Grammar (1972) Robert L. Allen. I have profited much from this book. 

An Introductory English Grammar (1965) by Norman C. Stageberg. Basically a structural grammar of English with an introduction to transformational grammar. 

A Brief Grammar with Illustrations (1873) Stephen W. Clark. The Normal Grammar; Analytic & Synthetic (1876). Clark’s bubble diagrams were the predecessor of the Reed-Kellogg Base Modifier Diagrams. 

Essentials of English Grammar (1877) by Dwight Whitney. An very excellent and practical grammar by a leading linguist of his times. 

Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: the quirky and lost art of diagraming sentences (2006) by Kitty Burns Florey. A very readable book on the history of traditional sentence diagrams. 

Grammar by Diagram. Workbook: Understanding English Grammar Through Traditional Sentence Diagraming (2009) by Cindy L. Vitto.  

Sentences and Their Elements (1911) by Earle, Savage, and Seavey. Rather thorough little grammar. 

Sentence Sense (1991) by Tony Hunter, Sr. This is a great book based on Robert Allen’s Sector Analysis. Here is the Skill Practice Workbook

Everyday English (1912) by Franklin T. Baker and Ashley H. Thorndike. The Elements of Rhetoric and Composition (1910) by Ashley H. Thorndike. A practical and attractive approach. 

The Lively Art of Writing: Words, Sentences, Style and Technique - An Essential Gide to One of Today’s Most Necessary Skills  (1965) by Lucile Vaughan Payne. By the same author, The Lively Art of Writing; Forms (1982). The Practical Stylist (1990) by Sheridan Baker 

Writing with a Purpose (1963) James McCrimmon. This with my college textbook when I took a summer course with Purdue University. Here is the 1980 5th Edition of Writing with a Purpose. And here is the 1984 8th Edition

Linguistics for Teachers of English (2018) by Carol Russell. A good introduction with lots of picture and graphs. 

Classical Academic Press sells Well Ordered Language. Here are Michael Naaktegboren’s YouTube videos teaching the 3rd grade grammar


Laurie Thomas has published a helpful and entertaining video on Why Grammar is Not Trivial. Watch it. It will improve your writing. 

English Sentence Patterns by Robert Lado & Charles C. Fries. Helpful sentences drills for English language learners. 

                                                                      Poetry and Drama

Rhythm in English Poetry (1935) by Sir. Stanley Letahes.