8th Grade English
Why Diagram Sentences?
Diagramming sentences has been a little out of style, so to speak,
among language arts teachers in the last decade or two. It is now, however,
becoming popular once more as another tool that can help many students
understand sentence structure. For students who are visual or even kinesthetic
learners, it may be the best way to analyze how a sentence works, and
to understand various types of verbs, phrases, and structures.
I have found that more of my students understand concepts like "direct
object" and "linking verb" using diagrams than other
methods of sentence analysis. It won't work for everyone, but no one
method ever does. I do think it can be a very useful tool in the teaching
of sentence-level grammar.
There will be a series of lessons as follows:
Diagramming Lesson 1: Getting started
As always, the first step in understanding any sentence, at least in
the English language (and in every other language I've studied), is
to identify the verb or verbs. "What is happening?" "What's
going on?" "What is the action in this sentence?" The
main verb, along with any auxiliaries (helping verbs) is the simple
predicate, and is placed on the right side of a horizontal line:
The second step is to find the subject. Ask yourself "who or what
is performing that verb?" The simple subject (without any adjectives
or other modifiers) is placed on the left side of that horizontal line.
A vertical line crosses the horizontal line and separates the simple
subject from the simple predicate.
So a simple sentence like "Mary has eaten." would diagram
A more complicated sentence like "The girl in the corner in the
blue shirt has eaten fried eggs for breakfast every day of her life."
would still start the diagram with the simple subject and predicate:
Another interesting case is the command form in English, where no
subject is present. In that case, the subject of the sentence is "the
understood you" and is shown as such, in parentheses. So a command
like "Listen!" would be diagrammed:
So what? So, you have figured out the core of the sentence, the simple
subject and simple predicate. Everything else branches off those two
Questions? Comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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