Published: December 5, 2005
|It is a valuable tool to show the relationship of different parts of the sentence.|
I love words, fascinated by the way they can be used and abused. Diagramming gives us a visual to sort out the puzzle, or build one.
I always hated diagramming because the rules sometimes seemed arbitrary. It also involves memorization--up to a point--and I was never good at that.
I play at diagramming sentences. I am an elementary school teacher and I so wish I had learned. Now I grab everybook on grammar that I can cram into my bookshelf. I am 40. It's true, some of us never ever learned how to diagram. (sigh)
Although I always seemed to do well at it in 8th-grade English, it was never enjoyable, especially trying to remember what went where, and I honestly never saw a valid reason for such a tedious exercise.
I used to love diagramming sentences in school. I graduated from high school in 1965 and we were taught proper grammar, with diagramming as a tool to learn that grammar. I went on to get an M.A. in English (minor in linguistics) and now am a teacher of English as a Second/Foreign Language. While diagramming sentences for ESL/EFL students (except in the very advanced classes) is definitely not advisable, we teachers do use it occasionally to work out a grammar puzzle for ourselves--we've even used diagramming to settle arguments among teachers! It still works, for those who understand the concepts.
Diagramming clarifies my sentence structure.
It gives me a true sense of where a sentence is going--too many adjectives or adverbs. Besides, I use to be No. 1 in my class for diagramming, and I haven't thought about it for years until I started to write. It is most useful when composing a piece.
It's like riding a bumblebee. Just watching it fly requires a suspension of disbelief, but once you see firsthand how it dips and weaves and actually, miraculously, stays in the air, then you're in on the secret. Verbs and nouns may be earthbound things, but a well-constructed sentence can make them fly.
It is boring. My teachers drove us crazy for months every year with diagramming sentences, but sometimes when a sentence doesn't look quite right, I'll do it to make sure I've done it correctly.
I haven't done it since I was in high school--and I taught English grammar for 13 years. It was not part of the curriculum where I taught. Diagramming makes the relationship of the words and phrases clear. It points to the importance of the way the word or phrase is being used to impact meaning. It helped me understand the way thoughts develop and the course of a conversation. It may even have helped me read maps: "The sentence starts here, follows this line of thought, and has these possibilities."
At first, I simply hated it. As a Broadcast Journalism major at FIU, we actually have to take and pass a grammer test called The Word Association test every time we enroll in one of the cornerstone courses in the program. It's essentially a diagram test. The more I studied, the more I improved, and the better my writing became because I was beginning to understand the mechanics of structure. I actually think it's pretty cool. It's like popping the hood of your car, and being able to pull the engine and rebuild it, which I can do too.
Why ruin a perfectly good sentence? I have been a dedicated reader ever since learning how to read. By so indulging, I learned from the masters of the craft how good sentences sound are created and enjoyed. Also, from the bad sentences, I learned what not to do.
It gives you an almost intimate contact with the words and a new appreciation for the English language.
Understanding sentence structure in English helped me to understand the differences in sentence structure in the foreign languages that I studied. (Besides, my mother was an English teacher and I keep a Warriner's Grammar and Composition on each level of my house!)
While there can be some advantages in using diagrams to clear up wayward sentences, I personally would flip out if I had to do it often. Life is too short!
I haven't diagrammed a sentence in quite a while, but I did like doing it. This article refreshed the benefits that diagramming brings to understanding sentences, especially if complex.
1 did it all in grammar school and disliked it then ... although I am a good writer because I learned it. A conundrum.
Because I'm an English teacher, I think I love diagramming sentences. I rarely do it on paper, but only in my head. This helps me see how the sentence is working. How can you write sentenvces when you don't know how they are working?
I haven't diagrammed a sentence since grade school, but I think it is valuable. Whenever I have a question about agreement, I mentally pull those parts out and in effect diagram them to see if they work together.
Yes. It surely gives the writing a 'punch,' as you put it. I love reading 'slogans' coined by advertising agencies, 'certain blurbs' on products that are catchy. All these go to show that diagrmming is the "in" thing in the writing world today. Prosody is boring and does not fit in with modern writing.
I'm actually squarely in the middle of the road about diagramming, As late as the early 1990s, I taught my high school frosh to diagram sentences as a tool to help them see sentence structure and the relationships of the parts of speech in a sentence. It was a short unit of about a week. But when I was in high school, diagramming was taught with a vengeance. We spent many weeks on it. I don't think there should be a major emphasis on diagramming, but it does become an effective tool at times, especially for people who have trouble visualizing exactly what a sentence is.
It is a concrete way of understanding the parts of a sentence.
I was taught at least three different ways of diagramming by three different teachers, all of whom I respected. While their ways were good (in fact, two were excellent), I never really understood what I was doing and found the assignments more frightening than frustrating. Perhaps someday I shall take out my Harbrace Handbook and learn to diagram all over.
First of all, I'm terrible at it. I haven't done it in nearly half a century, when I suffered through it in public school. The only purpose I can conceive of it serving is teaching the student how to recognize the various parts of speech. Useful perhaps for a grammarian, but a separate skill entirely from the ability to generate powerful, coherent sentences that embody thought and make forceful arguments. Diagramming sentences is like studying a pile of nuts and bolts, when you really need to learn how to drive an automobile. An interesting diversion for some, perhaps, just as working on crossword puzzles can presumably build one's vocabulary, but I find it has little to do with writing.
In my work as a legislative editor, sometimes I have to diagram a convoluted sentence to try to make sense of what the bill drafter intends. Sometimes even diagramming fails to make sense of it. Being an "old timer," I've found that the newer, younger editors who have never had sentence diagramming are changing the rules on sentence structure because they don't understand sentence structure. Get ready for new rules that conflict with how we were taught grammar and punctuation 40 and 50 years ago!
I think I will love diagramming sentences now that someone has shown me how in plain and simple language. I love puzzles, and this looks like a fun learning puzzle to get into.
Diagramming sentences reveals the substance of the English language to me.
I really didn't understand the process in school and seemed to go on instinct. I have a short memory span for the rules, so going through the process still is not fun.
It helps to better understand sentence structure and to see why an awkward sentence is awkward.
I find diagramming akin to making a dress or building a house. If you cut and assemble all the parts carefully, you can easily put together a great sentence. Plus, diagramming is a visual method that leads to "parts is parts!"
I remember doing this in 7th grade with Mrs. Peterson. I loved the orderliness and rules and I also loved the way the sentence looked all taken apart.
Diagramming goes a long way in helping you to understand the components of a sentence and how the sentence can be embelleshed to give it depth and meaning. The increase in poor reading comprehension and cohesive writing is one of the results of this lost art. I suspect one of the reasons it is no longer taught is due to teachers probably not understanding how to do it themselves. Please publish more articles on this fascinating subject. Instruction would help those who are rusty sharpen their skills.
What a revelation! What a clever way of placing text into a visiospatial medium. The key element to writing is clarity, and this is not always visible when reading plain text from a screen/page. Being able to see what's dragging a sentence down using this simple mapping tool will be invaluable to me in the future.
While I wouldn't diagram for 'fun and frolic,' diagramming sentences can be enjoyable in small doses. I think doing periodic episodes of diagramming can keep a writer conscious of the best use of words. Diagramming is helpful when struggling to explain a difficult concept by providing a clearer view of the way words should be placed in the sentence. My first exposure to diagramming was many, many years ago in 7th grade English class. I didn't enjoy it then!
At the time I learned diagramming, I was in 7th grade and I hated it; thought it too difficult (in reality, I probably didn't want to have to work that hard!). I now consider it one of the best and most useful I learned. I diagrammed sentences again in a composition course in college and found it fun; it gave me a good sense of how a sentence went together and how to make it stronger but lighter. I haven't diagrammed a sentence in many years. I'll check out the article, roll up my sleeves and have some fun!
I teach students how to write. Many students today have poor grammar skills and most don't have any idea as to how a sentence is constructed. I am certain that my skills are pretty rusty, but the nuns made sure that every student who graduated from 8th grade could diagram any sentence.
As a lover of the English language, I find myself fascinated by sentences and grammar and the technical aspects of the puzzle that is English. For me, diagramming sentences is like dissecting a frog. Without the mess.
Diagramming takes away the creative process. Just sit down and let it flow ... Editing should come after the fact.
What possible use could diagramming be? The English teacher in grammar school brough this English disease to our class. It turned me off of writing for years to come. I have yet seen a book published with diagrammed sentences in it. Please dump this idea, along with the thy and thee of history.
Diagramming sentences is something I instinctively do, whether I want to or not. I look at a sentence and diagrams start forming. I curse my 7th-grade English teacher everyday.
As a student, I enjoyed diagramming because I liked the challenge of finding the subject, predicate, etc., and then placing them on the lines and angles. I could see the sentence come alive, if you will. As an English teacher, I see the advantage of presenting a visual instruction to students who have visually influenced learning styles. Also, once a student grasps the concept of diagramming, he/she can understand how sentences are created and whether or not sentences are complete in structure and thought.
Those who can consciously diagram while engrossed in the creative writing process are truly using both sides of their brains. It is enough that I can get one side of the brain to form and then spit out the words on paper. I'll visit the syntax and sentence structure later; for me it's a trial akin to eating the dreaded overcooked vegetable. (Even now, I am nauseated with the thought!)
In nonprofit human services programming, there is something called the "Logic Model," a kind of business plan for the program. It makes the components of the program, the flow of activity through it and its purposes crystal clear. Sentence diagramming serves the same function, giving the "logic model" for individual sentences. Besides, it's fun!
I guess for a person who learned to love language early, it was akin to what those with scientistific minds feel when they dissect their first frog. It's a moment of understanding sentence structure. I'm sure it's helped me in more ways than I can count.
Because people don't speak in diagrammed-sentence format, any nonacademic writing should discard this cumbersome, obfuscating approach to writing. All this nonsense regarding verbs, adverbs, sintax (sic) and stuff is stifling to good writers. More importantly, it is a chokehold on those who don't pay too much attention to whether this verb modifies whatever it's supposed to modify. Mixing this form of grammatical math with interesting writing to focus on the good stuff is self-defeating. Even worse, too much self-analysis can get discouraging to writers who need all the gall they can muster to achieve whatever goals they seek to reach.
As a schoolgirl, I viewed diagramming sentences as a kind of visual or spatial approach to sentence review. I grasped the concept and did it well, so I did it because I liked to show off. As an adult, I realized that it is a valuable tool for uncluttering and rectifying problems with complex sentences that I've written. I also like to diagram awkwardly constructed sentences that appear in newspapers, magazines and books; this indicates the quality of editing at those publications.
When I first learned how, I thought it was rather pointless. Now, I see the point, but why diagram? Why can't you just say, "Oh! that word is a noun! And that one is a verb" ... so forth and so on. Why complicate things?
I was forced to do them in school and now as an English teacher I reluctantly teach them to my students. I think I hate it more then they do.
Although I do not now use diagramming, I learned early on in school how to do it. The article brought back memories of how clear a sentence became when presented in this fashion. I consider myself a linear thinker, a left-brainer. Diagramming satisfies that urge to see things in logical ways. Usually, I can visualize the structure of a sentence having learned diagramming. The article was helpful in reinforcing that.
Diagramming sentences is like uncovering the bones or skeleton of language. Seeing identifiable patterns gives structure to even the floweriest prose. Structure + poetry = the magic of communication.
When we studied diagramming in school, it helped me see how the parts of the sentence fit together. Throughout my writing career (even if my stories or poems fail to hit the mark for weak plots or flat characters or boring language). editors have never found fault with my grammar. In critique groups I'm usually one of the "authorities" called upon by other writers to assure grammatical correctness.
When I was in Catholic grammar school--oh, soooo many years ago--I fell in love with the clarity I saw on the chalkboard as the nun taught us how to diagram sentences. I find that I still envision the way a sentence is diagrammed when I'm questioning where a certain adverb, etc. should be placed in whatever piece I'm writing.