English grammar resources for a native speaker

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AproposArmadillo
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English grammar resources for a native speaker

Postby AproposArmadillo » Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:22 pm

I'm on a mission to improve my writing. As a native English-speaker, I'm comfortable with complex constructions, but my grammatical theory is sorely lacking.

By learning advanced grammar--things like sentence structure, noun clauses, adjective clauses, etc--I'm hoping to equip myself to deal with those awkward times where something about a sentence sounds off, but you're not quite sure what it is. I'd like to get to the point where I can dissect the sentence and either pinpoint the error, or try a different construction. But I can't do this if I don't know what constructions are possible on more than an intuitive level.

There is a lot of useful information out there. I've had no issues finding the theory (this channel has been very useful, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SrEEPt4MQA. I'm not affiliated with them, btw). But so far, all the practice questions and resources I can find are geared towards non-native speakers, and therefore emphasise intuitive understanding. For example, they might give two clauses and ask you to join them using an appropriate conjunction.

"Jane was upset, She received a B- on her english exam."

This isn't useful to me because I know intuitively that "Jane was upset because she received a B- on her english exam." without knowing that "because" is a subordinating conjunction in this context (something I just learned). It would be more useful if they offered the complex sentence first and then asked me to identify the conjunction, or to identify which type of conjunction it is. There's a subtle difference between the two approaches. The ideal resource would be a dense paper that asks you to dissect the text completely, identifying subject, predicate, clauses, conjunctions, etc, etc. But crucially, it would have to have an answer sheet.

I realise that this may be a niche ask, but I would love it if anyone could suggest any resources that take a similar approach.
Last edited by AproposArmadillo on Sat Feb 27, 2021 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Elsa Maria
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Re: English grammar resources for a native speaker

Postby Elsa Maria » Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:42 pm

There are a lot of resources available for native English speakers, especially if you are willing to use the resources that homeschoolers use for middle school or high school. I was a homeschool mum who taught hard-core grammar :)

SENTENCE DIAGRAMMING
Are you familiar with the technique of sentence diagramming? This is an old-school technique that really helps you identify exactly what each component of the sentence is doing. A casual search on YouTube "Sentence Diagramming" gave me plenty of hits.

Here is a link to a static website just to give you a sense of it:
http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ ... pager1.htm

And Eugene R. Moutoux has a nice website, and books you can buy. He seems very knowledgeable about English, German, and Latin. I have been meaning to buy some of his books for some time. Thanks for the reminder!
http://www.german-latin-english.com/diagrams.htm

GRAMMAR PROGRAMS
There is a subset of homeschool parents who love to teach grammar, and there are many available courses. It is a matter of finding one that you like. You can usually buy both the Student Manual and the Teacher's Manual, so you will have an answer key.

The one I used was extremely thorough, but it is also unabashedly Mennonite. Most of the example sentences are about the Bible or about farm life. I do not agree with Mennonite beliefs, and I used them anyway. But consider yourself warned! If the Mennonite aspect will not offend you, they are worth a look. Only about half of the book is grammar instruction - the other half teaches composition skills.

I keep the 8th grade (about age 13 in the USA) book on my reference shelf, and this is the volume I would suggest for an educated adult.
https://www.milestonebooks.com/item/1-128--/

I pulled it out just now. Chapter 10 is called Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Interjections. Subordinating Conjunctions are introduced like this:

A subordinating conjunction joins a dependent adverb clause to the independent (main) clause in a complex sentence. The two clauses are not of equal rank. Rather, the dependent clause is subordinate to the main clause; it functions as an adverb modifying a word in the main clause.

This is followed by sample sentences (about people from the bible), which are diagrammed, and plenty more discussion. Another example:
A subordinating conjunction shows a specific relationship between the dependent clause and the independent clause. The relationships include when, where, how, why, under what condition, in spite of what, and to what degree.

So you can see that the text does not talk down to the reader.

Another option is Analytical Grammar, which I believe is completely secular. While I have never looked at the course myself, I understand it to be both secular and rigorous.
https://www.analyticalgrammar.com/our-p ... l-grammar/

I hope this helps! If none of these are what you are looking for, try looking around at sites that review grammar courses for homeschoolers. Here is one of many:
https://cathyduffyreviews.com/homeschoo ... nd-grammar

Many of these courses are probably hard to get outside of the USA. Just let me know if you need more leads, and I'll see what I can find for you! Native language grammar is fun :)
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Elsa Maria
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Re: English grammar resources for a native speaker

Postby Elsa Maria » Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:04 pm

I have another idea, and it would go nicely with any grammar course.

This might help you with your writing:

Sentence Composing by Donald Kilgallon takes grammar points and demonstrates them in sentences derived from literature. And you are supposed to use these as model sentences for your own writing.

Here is an example from Sentence Composing for High School:

Skill: Appositive Phrases
Sample appositive phrase, with the appositive phrase bolded:
It went away slowly, the feeling of disappointment that came sharply after the thrill that made his shoulders ache. Ernest Hemmingway.

Characteristics of the Appositive Phrase: "Appositives are noun phrases that identify adjacent nouns or pronouns. They can occur as sentence openers, subject-verb splits, or sentence closers."

Like a lot of courses, I like the content better than the exercises. I think some of Kilgallon's exercises are silly. But I also think that one could learn to construct more interesting sentences by studying and applying the concepts in this book.

You can download a 20 page sample here:
https://www.heinemann.com/products/0428.aspx#fulldesc
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Doitsujin
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Re: English grammar resources for a native speaker

Postby Doitsujin » Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:18 am

AproposArmadillo wrote:I'm on a mission to improve my writing. As a native English-speaker, I'm comfortable with complex constructions, but my grammatical theory is sorely lacking.
I don't think that learning more about grammar will significantly improve your writing. You might want to consider reading popular English style guides instead. For example:

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O'Conner
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

If you really want to learn more about English grammar, you might find grammars for ESL teachers, for example, Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, more helpful than traditional grammar books.
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AproposArmadillo
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Re: English grammar resources for a native speaker

Postby AproposArmadillo » Sat Feb 27, 2021 3:19 pm

Elsa Maria wrote:There are a lot of resources available for native English speakers, especially if you are willing to use the resources that homeschoolers use for middle school or high school. I was a homeschool mum who taught hard-core grammar :)


These are some fantastic suggestions.

I'm particularly interested in your last suggestion, Sentence Composing by Donald Kilgallon. I never went to high school, so this was one of the missing pieces of the puzzle, and I didn't event realise it until now.

Thanks for the detailed reply, I really appreciate it.
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