Posted by: angiefm | February 18, 2009

Grammar Land by M. L. Nesbitt

I just HAD to post about this book.  Those who know us well enough know that we have absolutely no intention to teach grammar to our children in Primary School.  I believe that if they read well, speak well, write well, there is no need for formal grammar instruction. 

Until today I don’t have a good grasp of what the various parts of speech are and what in the world they do.  I remember failing my very first English test in Secondary 1 and it was a real blow to me since I thought I was a bit of a queen of the English language at that age.  Ha ha ha.  The test asked for various parts of speech to be underlined and named in the context of like 10 sentences.  FAIL!

So it might come as a surprise to you that I am highly recommending this book!  But oh man.  It is SO FUN!  Published way back in 1878, the story is about 9 parts of speech and how they appear before Judge Grammar to present their individual cases about which type of words belong to them. 

We have read till Chapter 5 and have been introduced to Mr Noun, Little Article (poor chap has only two words, “a” and “the”), Mr Pronoun and yesterday we read about Mr Adjective and how he has been accused of theft by Mr Noun.

At the end of each chapter is a fun little exercise during which Judge Grammar or his side-kick Sergeant Parsing asks you, citizen of Schoolroom-Shire to help pick out various parts of speech from a short passage.  There are no answers though, so my poor mother (teacher extraordinaire) has been receiving phone calls whenever we have a little dispute.  🙂

You can check out the full text of the book here but if you are thinking of printing it out, I highly recommend just buying this e-book for 3 US dollars and saving yourself all that formatting.

[Afternote:  A big thank you to Sarah for posting the link to the FREE e-book here:]




  1. ***The test asked for various parts of speech to be underlined and named in the context of like 10 sentences. FAIL!***

    Now that would be ME! And if you read my blogs you will know I still make lots of grammatical mistakes. So I guess I should be the one reading it?! 🙂

    Will go get it for the older ones. They would so love it!

    Thanks for the rec!

  2. Thanks for sharing! Will surely be reading this!!

    Found another site with formated pages for free:

  3. Dear Angie

    How do we help our kids with composition writing. What books would you recommend?

    • Hmmm … this is a tough one. And honestly I have no authority in the area. Or experience. What I CAN tell you is how we do things here. First up, we have our children do narrations from the age of 6. There is a lot of “practicing” before that, but they are only required to do so as part of school when they are six. A narration simply is a retelling. And intially it’s just a straight retelling of something they just heard read to them. If you look up my “In Retrospect” posts, you will find some of my children’s narration. But as they grow older, they are required to put in their own thoughts, perspectives, etc into the narration. So for example instead of saying that a character did such and such, they may add, and I didn’t think that was very kind. Or something to the effect. They continue doing narrations orally ONLY till they are 9. This is because a child who has the added burden of writing, spelling, etc, cannot focus on the main task at hand, which is simply to retell. What happens when a child has to write at an early age, is that they will opt to use simpler words because they just can’t spell what they want to. “Beautiful” becomes “nice”. “Outstanding” becomes “good”. By the time they are about 9, spelling, grammar and speed of writing should be more or less under their belt, so that’s the age that we will transition to having them do written narrations. What about “creative writing”? That’s a common question. And I like what Dr. Ruth Beechick, a strongly pro-homeschooling educator once said. You cannot be creative without having anything to be creative with. It’s like trying to build a house without bricks. So apart from narrations, we have our children do copywork. In a typical week, they will write a Bible verse, a poem, a good piece of prose, something factual, etc. Pick good pieces of writing (it needn’t be long), and talk about it before the child writes. Define any unfamiliar words, talk about how an un-phoentically spelt word is spelt, etc, muse about the turn of the phrase, the imagery used, etc. Nothing formal. Just an appreciation of good writing. I have picked my own passages and I have also used the Spelling Wisdom programme from After years of doing copywork, my children actually pause in their personal reading to come to show me a passage or sentence they really liked. And it comes out in their narrations too! This year, I wanted Alethea to get some independent writing done, so we started “journaling” once a week. Every Friday, she writes a single page about something that happened during the week. This I only correct for spelling because I don’t want to demoralise them by being overly critical. If there is a glaring grammatical mistake, I will highlight it, but those are few and far between, because they are exposed to so much good writing and have been doing narrations, so good grammar comes almost naturally to them. Hmmm … this got long. It should be a separate post on its own! Ha ha. If you are looking to get something structured to use to teach, I suggest looking at the website for some guided material. Otherwise I really cannot think of anything, because we have never used a programme for composition writing. I hope some of this helps!

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