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Best Grammar Curriculum for Homeschool: A Form-Function English Grammar

Best Grammar Curriculum for Homeschool: A Form-Function English Grammar

What is grammar, you might ask, and what is the best curriculum for teaching English grammar to homeschoolers? Grammar can be defined as the structural rules that govern the formation of words, phrases, and clauses in a language. Grammar encompasses morphology and syntax. Morphology is the study of the structure of morphemes in a language, or the study of words and parts of words. Syntax is the study of the structure of phrases, clauses, and sentences in a language, or the study of word order.

As a linguist, I struggled to find a grammar curriculum that was complete and accurate. Every commercially available grammar book that I found contained at least egregious error. For example, most grammar books call counting numbers like one, two, and three adjectives. But counting numbers, or quantifiers, are not adjectives. Quantifiers are determiners, and determiners are not adjectives. I can tell you the difference between adjectives and determiners, but most grammar books cannot. In fact, most grammar books for children completely ignore the category of determiner. Not understanding the difference between adverbs (form) and adverbial (function) is another grievous error that most grammar books make.

Because I was fed up with constantly modifying the lessons that I used with my oldest child, I decided to write my own grammar curriculum. I started by writing a junior high textbook and workbook set entitled A Form-Function Description of the Grammar of the Modern English Language that I recommend for students between the ages of 12 and 14 in seventh and eighth grade. I then wrote an elementary series of workbooks for kindergarten through sixth grade that builds up to A Form-Function Description of the Grammar of the Modern English Language. I have most recently written the first workbook in the high school series that I recommend for ages 14 to 16 in ninth and tenth grade.

What makes A Form-Function English Grammar different from other grammar curricula? First, I, the author, am a linguist. I earned a master’s degree in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics in December 2011 from Illinois State University. I wrote my English studies thesis on multiple modals in American English entitled Structure and Meaning of Periphrastic Modal Verbs in Modern American English: Multiple Modals as Single-Unit Constructions. I spent the years between earning my degree and writing my grammar books continuing to study the grammar of the English language.

Second, A Form-Function English Grammar approaches the description of English morphology and syntax through two frameworks: the Form-Function Method and Construction Grammar. The workbooks and textbooks strive to provide complete and accurate information about the English language without value judgements. You will not find the errors present in many other grammar books. You will find information about the forms and functions possible in English. The word classes in English are nouns, pronouns, adjectives, determiners, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, postpositions, p-words, conjunctions, adverbializers, relativizers, complementizers, and interjections. The phrases in English are noun phrases, adjective phrases, determiner phrases, verb phrases, adverb phrases, prepositional phrases, and postpositional phrases. The clauses in English are independent clauses, adjective clauses, noun clauses, and adverb clauses. This grammar series also describes the grammatical functions that words, phrases, and clauses can perform. Form and function are clearly distinguished.

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Elementary Series

The elementary series of A Form-Function English Grammar is a workbook series for kindergarten through sixth grade that builds up to A Form-Function Description of the Grammar of the Modern English Language, a textbook and workbook that provides a descriptive grammar that strives to provide an objective description of English as used without value judgements. Each workbook teaches the forms and functions of the English language through text and activities. The answers to all the activities are located at the end of each workbook.

Level 1

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The goal of Level 1 is to introduce many of the word classes (parts of speech, grammatical forms) of English. Level 1 includes nouns, determiners, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, and interjections. Level 1 also introduces noun phrases. In addition to forms, Level 1 also introduces some functions of the English language including subject and predicate.

Level 2

The goal of Level 2 is to reinforce the word classes (parts of speech, grammatical forms) of English taught in Level 1. Level 2 includes nouns, determiners, pronouns, verbs, modal verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, and interjections. Level 2 introduces additional determiners and pronouns. Level 2 also reinforces noun phrases, subjects, and predicates. Level 2 also introduces the progressive aspect of verbs, prepositional phrases, verb phrases, negation, and the do-operator.

Level 3

The goal of Level 3 is to reinforce the word classes (parts of speech, grammatical forms) of English taught in Level 1 and Level 2. Level 3 includes nouns, determiners, pronouns, verbs, modal verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and interjections. Level 3 introduces additional pronouns and also introduces adjective phrases, determiner phrases, subject complements, gerunds, present participles as noun phrase modifiers, past participles, perfect aspect, adverb phrases and adverb phrase modifiers, functions of prepositional phrases, verb phrase complements, adjective phrase complements, adverbials, subordinating conjunctions (adverbializers), adverb clauses, main clauses, and sentence fragments.

Level 4

The goal of Level 4 is to reinforce the word classes (parts of speech, grammatical forms) of English taught in Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Level 4 includes nouns, determiners, pronouns, verbs, phrasal verbs, modal verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and interjections. Level 4 reinforces noun phrases, determiner phrases, adjective phrases, adverb phrases, verb phrases, and adverb clauses. Level 4 also introduces subject-verb agreement, simple subjects, complete subjects, infinitives, split infinitives, catenative verbs, transitive verbs, direct objects, indirect objects, quasi-modal verbs, relativizers, and adjective clauses.

Level 5

The goal of Level 5 is to reinforce the word classes (parts of speech, grammatical forms) of English taught in Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4. Level 5 includes nouns, determiners, pronouns, verbs, phrasal verbs, modal verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and interjections. Level 5 reinforces noun phrases, determiner phrases, adjective phrases, adverb phrases, verb phrases, adverb clauses, and adjective clauses. Level 5 also introduces count versus noncount nouns, absolute adjectives, grammatical case, grammatical voice, passive voice, postpositions and postpositional phrases, separable phrasal verbs, relativizers as direct objects and indirect objects, complementizers, and noun clauses.

Level 6

The goal of Level 6 is to reinforce the word classes (parts of speech, grammatical forms) of English taught in Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, and Level 5. Level 6 includes nouns, determiners, pronouns, verbs, phrasal verbs, modal verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, postpositions, coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and interjections. Level 6 reinforces noun phrases, determiner phrases, adjective phrases, adverb phrases, verb phrases, prepositional phrases, and postpositional phrases as well as grammatical functions such as subject, predicate, direct object, indirect object, object complement, noun phrase modifier, verb phrase complement, adjective phrase complement, prepositional complement, and adverbial. Level 6 also introduces determinatives, appositives, functional versus lexical verbs, complex predicates, and compound subjects and predicates and delves into deeper detail of the internal structures of adjective clauses and noun clauses. Level 6 finally introduces sentence structure and extraposition.

Junior High Series

The junior high series is a junior high textbook and workbook series for seventh and eighth grade. Book 1 (Level 7) covers the introduction and chapters 1 to 11. Book 2 (Level 8) covers chapters 12 to 18 and the conclusion. The included workbook contains questions and answers for each chapter in the textbook including the introduction. The glossary in Book 2 provides an alphabetical list of the definitions of the bold terms throughout the textbook. The appendices in Book 2 offer quick references on English forms and functions, strong verbs, adjective phrase complements, prepositional verbs, catenative verbs, and phrasal verbs.

High School Series

The high school series currently consists of a workbook that reinforces the information taught in A Form-Function Description of the Grammar of the Modern English Language. Each lesson in each level of the high school series correlates to a chapter including the introduction in the junior high textbook.

Level 9

The goal of Level 9 is to reinforce the grammatical structure of the English language studied in detail in the junior high textbook through additional practice questions. This grammar workbook continues to approach the description of English morphology and syntax through two frameworks: the Form-Function Method and Construction Grammar. Each lesson in Level 9 correlates to a chapter including the introduction in the junior high textbook. Level 9 is a continuation of A Form-Function Description of the Grammar of the Modern English Language.

For more information, visit A Form-Function English Grammar. The workbooks and textbooks are available for purchase via Amazon. You can also follow the series on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

Best Grammar Curriculum for Homeschool: A Form-Function English Grammar

Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, children, dogs, and cats. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and master's degrees in library and information science and English studies with a concentration in linguistics.

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