Sentences can be very complex, and can contain many different parts of speech which implicate many different grammatical rules. Even the simplest of sentences must have a subject and a verb, and grammatical rules dictate how the subject and verb interact. Diagramming sentences can help you to make sure each piece of your sentence is grammatically correct, and can give you a deeper understanding of the English Language
Purpose of Diagramming Sentences
There are a number of different reasons diagramming sentences can be useful, all of which are related to developing a deeper understanding of English grammar. Diagramming sentences can help you to:
- Learn and identify the parts of speech
- Understand how the parts of speech function together to create compound sentences
- Explore methods of joining subjects, verbs and objects
- Understand complex grammatical tools used to make compound sentences, including prepositional phrases, verbal nouns, modifiers and compound subjects.
Components of Sentences
Sentences can contain a number of different components, which must work together. Diagramming sentences allows you to separate and identify these different components of sentences by arranging them pictorally.
Although there are several different methods of diagrammng a sentence, each involves separating the subject, the predicate (the verb), and the other components of a sentence.
Those components can include:
- Subject: Who or what the sentence is about. The person doing the action
- Predicate: Verb or action being done
- Direct Object: Something/someone the action is done to
- Indirect Object: The person/thing the action is done to or for
- Prepositions: Relationship words that provide information about how the other parts of the sentence fit together
- Modifiers: Words that provide additional detail about a subject, action or object in the sentence
- Articles: Words that modify nouns
- Dependent/subordinate clauses: Clauses that can't stand alone
When writing sentences, subjects and verbs must agree in number (for example, a singular subject must have a singular verb). Modifiers also must be placed as close as possible to the subject or object being modified. Sometimes, in complex sentences, it can be difficult to determine which subject and which verb are related, or what an adjective is describing.
By diagramming sentences, you learn to how to identify how the components of a sentence work together, and you develop a deeper understanding of the function that words play in sentences. This can help make your own writing clearer and free of grammatical errors.
How to Diagram a Sentence
Create your "Base Line"
Your base line is the top line of your diagram which explains what your sentence is about. It is the fundamental pieces of the sentence.
- Begin with the verb and the subject. Write them on one line, with a straight line between them
- Write the object on the same line, with a vertical line separating the object from the verb
Diagram the other parts of your sentence below the base line
Each of the other components of the sentence - modifers, prepositional phrases, subordinating clauses, interjections, and so on, are placed below the base line of the sentence, according to specific sentence diagramming rules.
- Modifiers (Words and phrases that provide additional detail about a subject, verb or object) are placed below the base line on slanted lines extending from the thing that they are modifying
- Prepositional phrases also go below the base line, on slanted lines extending from the subject, object or verb they are modifying. However, the object of the preposition goes on a horizontal line below the preposition.
Detail the components of compound sentences
- Each component of a compound sentences gets its own separate diagram, with its own separate base lines.
- The two clauses are joined by dotted lines, with the conjunction written on a horizontal line next to the dotted line.
Examples of Diagramming Sentences
The easiest way to understand sentence diagramming is to study sentences that have been diagrammed and to practice diagramming your own. A quick Internet search will locate websites, such as Guide to Diagramming Sentences which have examples and pictures of diagrammed sentences and explanations.
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"Diagramming Sentences." YourDictionary, n.d. Web. 18 October 2018. <http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/sentences/diagramming-sentences.html>.
Diagramming Sentences. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18th, 2018, from http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/sentences/diagramming-sentences.html