Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sentence Diagramming ~ Because It’s Fun


If you don’t believe me, read this book. Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences is a quirky, entertaining narrative for lovers of words in grammar or literature. The author quotes (and diagrams) Henry James:

She affronted, inscrutably, under stress, all the public concussions and ordeals; and yet, with that slim mystifying grace of her appearance, which defied you to say if she were a fair young woman who looked older through trouble, or a fine smooth older one who looked young through successful indifference with her precious reference, above all, to memories and histories into which he could enter, she was as exquisite for him as some pale pressed flower (a rarity to begin with), and, failing other sweetnesses, she was a sufficient reward of his effort.

And Hemingway:

Isn’t it pretty to think so?

And Gertrude Stein (a diagramming impossibility, if ever there was one):


A little monkey goes like a donkey that means to say that means to say that more sighs last goes. Leave with it. A little monkey goes like a donkey.

Just a bunch of fun, people.

So, I ask you, do you know how to diagram sentences? Would you like to learn?

What sentences are you struggling with? Would you like to challenge me with a sentence?


Whitney said...

I just checked my library and they have this! So excited - I've learned diagramming this year (teaching a grammar class) and it's been awesome. I'm 28 years old and I figure it's better to learn now than never.

A friend lent me The First Whole Book of Diagrams by Mary Daly and I'm loving that one.

Kate said...

Ive never commented before, but your enthusiasm for diagramming has been so inspiring to me, Heidi! I've been working through "Rex Barks," which has been the perfect introduction to the topic.

And while I'm all bold and commenting here, I just have to say how incredibly helpful your blog has been to me over the past few years as I have gotten started homeschooling. Rightstart and Nora Gaydos readers are two materials I learned about from your blog and have loved using. I'm expecting the same will be true when we start (and I tutor!) at classical conversations next year. Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

First of all, mega hsing classical and language-loving dittoes! And help.... Mom and I cannot figure out what to do with this "chunk" on the's a usage pattern that I hear a lot.

I'd rather eat sooner than later.


I will eat sooner rather than later.

Love to read your reply!