Sentence diagramming breaks down the sentence into all its parts. It requires knowledge of parts of speech and how they work together to make sentences.
For example: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” The subject is “fox,” and the fox is both quick and brown. What the fox did was jump. Where he jumped was over the dog, which dog was lazy. (Sure was a lazy dog to just let a fox jump over him!)
Teaching sentence diagramming is so rare in schools these days that you probably don’t know how to do it. Many see it as old-fashioned and useless.
It is, however, very useful.
Sentence diagramming helps you really figure out what’s going on in a sentence. Who is doing what, and when, where, how, and why are they doing it? All these questions can be answered with a sentence diagram.
When I started teaching, and taught my students diagramming, it quickly became apparent that proficiency in sentence diagramming is connected to proficiency in other areas of grammar, reading comprehension, and logic.
My students who are struggling with sentence diagramming are also struggling with answering basic reading comprehension questions, because they don’t understand the way the English language works. After they master basic diagramming concepts, they are able to move past basic reading comprehension to critical thinking.
Sentence diagramming makes you really think critically about the meaning of a sentence. Check out my “Second Amendment” page to see this in action.
The trouble is when people treat sentence diagramming as an end in and of itself. It isn’t. Sentence diagramming is a means to an end, and needs to be taught as such. Otherwise, sentence diagramming becomes just a bunch of silly rules to follow.
I personally didn’t learn sentence diagramming until I took a grammar class in college. At face value, it didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, but after actually trying it, it totally made sense.
I fell in love. Diagramming sentences is so much fun! It’s fun to examine all the pieces of a sentence puzzle and figuring out how they all fit together.
This website is a great resource for sentence diagramming, if you’re interested:
What do you think? Should students learn sentence diagramming? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!