About Diagramming Sentences

A Lost Practice

By Annette Rey

I believe if you have a familiarity with diagramming sentences, you will create better sentences. And where a sentence just doesn’t seem right, diagramming can be a great tool to lead you in the right direction to correct your sentence.

The tool is:


When you are on the site, click on the question mark in the upper right corner. A page of instructions on what else the site offers will appear.

Type your sentence into the box, hit your enter/return key, and the sentence will be diagrammed below the box.

At the top left you will see Diagram 1 of 2 (or 3) and left and right arrows. Click an arrow and see how the diagramming below changes. The instructions say all diagrams are grammatically correct, but usually only one is meaningful. That is because the program does not recognize the meaning of your sentence, as you do. It diagrams by the way you have constructed your sentence.

I have used the site and know something of diagramming and can choose which one of the diagrams is correct. Or, I can evaluate my sentence and know it is not correct. Seeing a diagram of that sentence helps me rearrange my sentence (or restate it) so I have an understandable and correct sentence.

Also, it is comforting when I plug in a sentence and have it confirmed that my sentence is absolutely correct.

The basics you need to know are:

Subject – verb – direct object

And beneath the basic diagram the modifying words are placed on a slant.

Especially look at the modifying words. If you want a modifying word to be attached to a specific word, and the diagram puts it beneath a different word, click on the arrow button and look at the next diagram. If you do not see a diagram that agrees with what you are trying to say, you probably need to reconstruct your sentence.

For example, The boy ran to the dog with the fiddle.

This sentence is not clearly stated. It says the dog has the fiddle.

I typed this sentence into the site and Option 2 shows with the fiddle beneath dog, with the fiddle modifies dog.

When you see that, you would know that is not what you are trying to say. Rework your sentence:

The boy with the fiddle ran to the dog.

This sentence shows only one diagram and it is correct!

With the fiddle is below boy. With the fiddle modifies boy.

That is what you are trying to say.

Do you see how this site will help you in your work and will help you learn more about grammar?

Another sentence I typed into the site, gave two options.

The dog with the bone ran after the boy with the fiddle.

Option 1 shows with the fiddle modifying ran. That is incorrect.

Option 2 shows with the fiddle modifying boy. This is correct.

Since you see a diagram that shows what you are intending to say, then you can accept that sentence is correct and can use it in your work.

If this seems very foreign to you, I suggest you stick with it. This is learnable.

And this is a good tool for writers.

Lastly, click on the home icon in the upper right corner on the site and see that an app is available. The Sentence Diagrammer app is free.

Go to Sites for Writers on my site page and choose which leads you would like to investigate.

I will post additional sites to help you learn more about English which will in turn improve your writing.

Learning can be fun! And writing is something we enjoy doing; so let’s make the effort to be better writers.



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