Do Only Old People Know what an Adverb is?

Apparently so because in our day, back in the 1800s, we spent endless hours at the blackboard diagramming sentences.



I’m not sure at what age we started diagramming sentences, maybe 4th or 5th grade, but for sure I remember by 6th grade we knew what the verb was, what an adjective was, and what an adverb was.

I had one teacher who gave us weekly quizzes on sentence structure and we’d beg to be the one to run to the school office to get the mimeographed pieces of paper. The smell of the mimeo machine is something anyone of a certain age never forgets. And The Color Purple.


My own kids are pretty fuzzy on grammar. They speak good (!) but if asked to parse a sentence and tell me what is the adverb etc, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t. They were victims of the time in education when freedom of expression was more important than how you said it. This was at private schools no less. Awful. They also never leaned to write cursive, something we old folks were taught on double-spaced yellow lined paper.

Is it important to know what an adverb is? Or an adjective? Or how to start a sentence without saying “Me and”? I think so but I guess teachers today are too busy teaching an agenda than the Basics.

Those of you with little ones, either children or grandchildren, are they getting taught to diagram sentences? I’m curious.

33 thoughts on “Do Only Old People Know what an Adverb is?

  1. In fairness to the teachers, they have to stick to the core curriculum and it does not include cursive or sentence diagramming. Makes me sad because those are two of my favorite things.

    1. True enough that teachers today are forced to teach to the core, I get that, and maybe kids today don’t need cursive or sentence structure? After all, Tweets are only 140 characters long and don’t require handwriting and seemingly grammar doesn’t count either!

        1. So right. I don’t use twitter for anything other than to follow or RT so it’s an art lost on me. But thanks for the correction.

  2. My twins (son and daughter age 14 in catholic school) write in cursive(beautifully) and actually have a grammar test…they know what an adverb is (and other parts of speech)and have had tests diagramming sentences (getting💯’s) but they tell me a lot of kids in their class have no clue. When i was young (in private school) i had an intense grammar teacher…so i stress that with my children…the diagramming part is maybe not needed, but i want them to write correctly (hopefully better than their mother😜)

    1. So you and Peter both recognize the value of a parochial education. I have grandkids at a Sacred Heart school and man, they get fantastically trained in all the basics.

      The art of writing well is long lost.

  3. My grammar is pretty fuzzy as far as diagramming goes, but we are learning it. Not so much emphasis on the diagramming part, but Latin is amazing for sticking grammar. My 7th grader is gifted in language and it all comes easily for him. Lucky dog!

    Cursive has been taught, they can sign their names and read the important documents, but it’s not beautiful! 😂

    Did you know it’s The Bard’s birthday today? 🎂

    1. Latin. Yes. I took it from 7th through 12th grades, even AP Latin! Nerd. But it made knowing one of last week’s Final Jeopardy clues a cake walk.

      I did NOT know today is Shakespeare’s birthday. Google has no gif! 🙂

  4. Heck with dangling participles, I want to talk sandwiches still.

    1. Cheese steak with onions and hot peppers
    2. Open faced tuna fish with cheese
    3. Tuna fish any time on any kind of bread
    4. BLT in tomato season only
    5. Hot pastrami

    1. Ha ha. That WAS starting to be a good thread. No reason we can’t do both today. There’s not much other news than Kate and Wills having a boy today.

      I contend a cheese steak is not a sandwich, nor is anything open face. That said, growing up, we LIVED on Italian subs from Casapulla’s, a dive in Elsmere.

      From their website:
      made with genoa salami, capicola, peppered ham, provolone cheese, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, salt, black pepper and oregano nestled in our freshly baked sub roll (add dill pickles, crushed hot or sliced sweet peppers; let us know if you prefer mayo or oil) (extra meat 1.50)

      I went for the extra pickles, hot peppers but God, NEVER mayo. Never. That was a Philly thing, not a Wilmington thing. I haven’t had a sub in 30 years and every time I am in Wilmington I think I’ll stop and get one to go, but never do.

    2. Technically these aren’t sandwiches either but I vote lobster roll (not too much mayo) and clam roll.

      1. I don’t know what exactly constitutes a sandwich other than two slices of bread and something inside it. Therefore, a lobster or clam roll can, IMHO, be a sandwich.

        Howard Johnson’s made the best clam roll. There was probably no actual clam in the mystery fried seafood but hey, it was good. I didn’t have really good fried clams until I moved to the Vineyard. Then, wow.

        Lobster rolls vary too – some people put too much lobster meat in them, too big pieces, and not enough mayo. Others smother it in mayo. Are you Celery or not?

        1. Ever tried a “Connecticut style” lobster roll? No mayo, no celery etc. Just lobster meat lightly sautéed in and coated with butter. Served warm with a spritz of lemon in the traditional griddled, top-split hot dog roll. Slaw & fries on the side.

          The best.

        2. That’s also a hipster NYC style way to have a lobster roll. Not a fan. I love my fresh caught whole lobster that way but in a bun, I want some mayo.

        3. Fjord makes both styles to order. The lobster salad type is made with aioli.

        4. I think people are as picky about their lobster rolls as they are about how they like steaks or hamburgers. Luckily for diners, there are enough restaurants to suit everyone’s taste.

    1. Ugh. Wtf, really! And straight is at the bottom, as if an afterthought and not 99% of the population.

      (Even after your lesson I don’t know the difference between trans and cis—oh I reread carefully. I am offended at being lumped in as cisgender. I demand the title SCAW! (Straight conservative asshole woman))😜😂

  5. Reminds me of one of my favorite jokes (sort of a joke):
    Why do Catholic school kids learn so much?
    A: Because they are afraid.
    Twelve years of Catholic school, I can attest that back in the day that was certainly true. Hopefully not so any more, but I am heartened to hear that they are still great at instilling the basics.
    As for sammich favorites – tea sandwiches. Little triangles of bread with tuna or cucumber or egg salad, etc. The smaller they are the more you can eat.

    1. Good joke! I know lots of people who send their kids to parochial schools who aren’t Catholic. It’s a good solid education and they tend to get families who want education before virtue signaling. A reasonable request in my mind. Not many parochial schools have nuns teaching anymore and if they are nuns, they don’t wear habits. Rulers on the knuckles is out I guess.

      Tea sandwiches. Ha, who eats just one? No one except my size 00 sister who would say she’s full after eating one. One of the many reasons I think I’m adopted.

  6. my children’s school does not have any nuns for teachers…i sent them there not for the religious education ( we are only mildly catholic 🤐) the greenwich public school that we are zoned for became a magnet school (very low test scores) so we never went there.

    1. I’ve never heard any negative reviews on parochial education. Many from here go into Sacred Heart in Greenwich but there’s also another one popular by parents here, in Rye? I have to look it up.
      Update: School of the Holy Child, Rye

      1. School of the Holy Child graduate here! Technically the School of the Holy Child Jesus.
        We used to get our jollies answering the hall pay phone when it would ring, “School of the Holy Child, Jesus speaking.”
        How funny were we? 😀

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