The Magic of Diagramming Sentences

August 8, 2010

It’s time for me to let out my inner geek…Back in the day I learned to diagram sentences from my junior high teacher.  In addition to that, I remember having to memorize 35 prepositions.  I wasn’t too happy to do all the hard work that went into learning English grammar.  Today, I’m very thankful.  Diagramming sentences really helped me understand all the parts of a sentence in a logical manner and has helped me to become a better writer.

I recently stumbled upon a video that touches on diagramming sentences.  It’s been so long since I’ve done this and brought back some interesting memories.  From what I understand, it’s been a long time since sentence diagramming has been taught in schools.

For more information about sentence diagramming, check out the Wiki entry about the topic.  For some books about diagramming sentences, check out (not an Affiliate link).

How about you…have you ever diagrammed sentences?  If so, how did you like it?

1 Lori August 9, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Hi Tim,
Thanks for geeking out — me likes it!

I had no idea that diagramming sentences is no longer taught in schools. Seriously? I think learning to diagram sentences helped me better understand grammar. Hmmm, I wonder why diagramming got cut? (Any teachers out there want to chime in?)

Thanks for reminding me about this, Tim. Too fun!

2 Tim August 10, 2010 at 9:13 am

Hi Lori: Good to learn that you learned your grammar and sentence structure with the help of diagramming. To the best of my knowledge they don’t teach it anymore, but I’d be curious to find out more. I know so much about teaching these days seems to be about passing standardized tests. In any case, thanks for sharing your thoughts and getting a little geeky.

3 The Exception August 11, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I confess – I LOVE this exercise. In fact, I started teaching my daughter to identify and breakdown structure as a game a few years ago. I am disappointed that they are no longer teaching this in schools (which doesn’t mean my daughter won’t do it… for fun) because it helps with writing and speaking if we understand the rules of structure and form.

4 Tim August 12, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Hi Exception: It’s really good to learn that you learned about English grammar through diagramming sentences and also good to learn you’re teaching your daughter about it, too. I agree with you completely that it really helps one get a better understanding of the structure of a sentence. Thanks for stopping by!

5 Keith Davis August 13, 2010 at 11:53 am

Hi Tim
Stopped teaching grammar in the UK many years ago – even the BBC newsreaders sat to who and not to whom.
I heard someone say recently that if you really want to understand English grammar you should learn Latin.
Diagramming sentences is new to me but it looks like a great way to learn grammar.

6 Tim August 14, 2010 at 9:56 am

Hi Keith: Thanks for sharing your insights here…I’ve heard a lot of good things about learning Latin. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll try to learn. It’s good to know that even though diagramming sentences isn’t being taught anymore, at least there are some books and resources out there. When I first learned, it was very intimidating…but once I picked it up it really helped me to get a more visual understanding of grammar. Have a great weekend!

7 Susan April 19, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I teach remedial writing at a community college. I was educated at Catholic schools where diagramming was taught. We began diagramming in the third grade. My own children, now adults, went a Montessori school which also uses a method of sentence analysis that essentially accomplishes the same thing diagramming does.

My colleagues all agree that if our students had been taught to diagram, it is likely they would not be in remedial classes today.

I suspect that diagramming is no longer taught because teachers major in teaching English rather than in English.

8 Tim April 21, 2011 at 10:20 am

Hi Susan:

Thank you for your comment. Interesting to hear what is going on in English grammar education. With so many people out there who are visual learners and thinkers, I’m surprised this method isn’t used more…or at all. Thank you for stopping by!

9 Carrie September 14, 2012 at 9:33 am

They touch on diagramming in school but most avaoid it. Instead they color code etc. what they are missing is diagramming is actually differentiated instruction because it creates a picture- and tactile instruction because students can create puzze pieces for each sentence part and put the diagram together. Anyway- we have lost a depth of understanding by letting this method fall by the wayside. It really helps students see the parts of speech, how they work together to complete a thought and how they modify one another.

10 Pam bakka October 28, 2015 at 7:52 pm

I remember diagramming sentences when I was in school I guess I’m dating myself! I just asked my daughter who is a kindergarten teacher if she had diagram sentences when she was in school and she had never heard of the practice. I used to actually think it was fun because I liked grammar, with one’s speech and writing ability. Nowadays with common core everything is totally different! And I certainly don’t agree with a lot of what’s going on now in school!

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