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Can Diagramming Sentences Make Me a Better Writer?

Can Diagramming Sentences Make Me a Better Writer?

Can Diagramming Sentences Make Me a Better Writer?

No one pays attention anymore. We are in the age of texting, Tweeting, and limited character space. Does anyone remember the grammar rules your 5th grade English teacher taught you? I do – mainly because she was a nun with a ruler and hard pieces of chalk she would hurl at your head if you drifted off into oblivion. Does anyone remember how to diagram a sentence? Or that irregardless is not a word?

Diagramming sentences is not widely taught anymore, and it is a shame. Ask an English teacher, and the most difficult thing student have while trying to grasp the English language is basic sentence structure and verb agreement, and how to work in descriptions. Now, I am no grammar queen. In fact, I hate it. I break the rules all the time. But at least I know it, and I do try to fix it — when I want to. See if I’m lying – I bet there are more than 10 mistakes already. Can you spot them?

Why Does Diagramming a Sentence Help?

Diagramming sentences helps to visualize what the sentence is saying. It helps users grasp helping verbs, modifiers, articles and tenses better than any other form of explanation. Diagramming sentences is also an excellent way for writers to better convey their ideas to their audience.
Which would you rather read?
The man walked down a dark street.
The street was dark. The old man shuffled his feet along the concrete, the puddles from the remnants of rain soaking through is well-worn shoes.

I vote for the latter.

Exercises in diagramming sentences.

Sentences are broken down by the role the word plays in the sentences. For example:

[message_box type=”note” icon=”no” close=”Close”]In the sentence: The skilled baker is cooking.

The diagram would look like:

Baker        |        is cooking

The                      skilled

The modifiers in this sentence, the and skilled, are placed beneath the word they are modifying – baker.[/message_box]

Of course, sentences are never this simple. So, a more complex example:

[message_box type=”note” icon=”yes” close=”Close”]The skilled baker is carefully cooking the pie.

Baker      |     is cooking     |    pie   

The       skilled      carefully               the

[/message_box]

See, it’s not so bad, right? Especially when there is no nun standing over your with a ruler and piece of chalk. Try it, diagramming sentences can really help you take your writing to the next level. Why? Because it will allow you to be more descriptive when discussing your thoughts.

Resources for Diagramming Sentences

http://www.wisc-online.com/Objects/ViewObject.aspx?ID=WCN8207

http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/sentences/free-diagramming-sentences-worksheet.html

http://college.cengage.com/devenglish/broughton/focus_florida/1e/students/diagramming_basic.html

About Bianca

Bianca Dean is a writer from NYC. She's specialized in writing, marketing and graphic design.

9 comments

  1. great points altogether, you just gained a new reader.

  2. Denise P. Daniels

    I am not sure if they even teach this skill in school anymore. I think I remember learning the process in the third grade. To preserve my sanity I taught my oldest daughter how to diagram sentences when she was in the second grade because the sentences she was writing for her vocabulary were insanely boring. I couldn’t take another week of ‘I went to the store’, ‘I have a cat’, or ‘Lemons are yellow’. After a few weeks her sentences turned into mini stories and she was very proud of herself.

    • Denise,
      Diagramming sentences is a lost art. It’s amazing that so many kids have no idea what a past participle is. But learning the basics of diagramming can help any writer, just like it helped your daughter. Like you, I hate short sentences that lack description.

      Im glad you knew what I was talking about.

    • Enilghtennig the world, one helpful article at a time.

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  4. Mighty useful. Make no mistake, I apprecitae it.