English 098: English Fundamentals
Instructor: K. Sherlock
Download a .PDF of this handout: Simple Sentence Diagramming
RULES OF SENTENCE DIAGRAMMING
Nouns and Verbs are always placed on straight horizontal lines.
SUBJECT, PREDICATE VERB, and PREDICATE OBJECT are separated by vertical (up-and-down) lines.
MODIFYING WORDS and PHRASES are placed on diagonal (slanted) lines underneath the words they modify.
1. Simple sentence with a basic modifier (a definite article):
The pelican plunged.
2. Simple sentence with a modifying phrase (prepositional phrase):
The pelican plunged into the water.
3. Simple sentence with different modifying phrases (prepositional phrases and a participial phrase):
Having spotted a school of fish near the surface, the pelican plunged into the water.
4. Simple sentence with a variety of modifying words (adjectives, adverbs, articles) and phrases (prepositional and participial):
Having spotted almost immediately a school of fish very near the surface, the pelican gracefully plunged into the water.
Part One: Create a Simple Sentence
Divide the class into three groups of equal numbers.
Count the number of people in your group.
Collaborative propose and agree on a topic.
Each person must compose a SIMPLE sentence on this topic with exactly the number of words as there are people in the group, and then diagram that sentence on a sheet of paper.
When everyone is finished, collaboratively select one sentence (perhaps one that is the best written, the most interesting, the most challenging, etc.).
Part Two: Perform the Parts of Speech
Using the diagram of the selected sentence, discuss as a group what each word in the sentence does as a part of speech. (Even if you cannot name the part of speech, discuss what the word does grammatically within the sentence.)
Assign each word in the sentence to one person in your group. (No one should be responsible for more than one word.)
Discuss, as a group, how you will perform the sentence before the class by acting out logically what each word does. (Hint: Your performance should rely upon the sentence diagram for word order and logic.)
You may not use homonyms (e.g., putting up four fingers for the preposition “for”, or pointing to your eye for the pronoun “I”).
You may not use contractions (e.g., “can’t”; “doesn’t”; “it’s”).
You may not use the noun “thing” or any pronoun containing “-thing.”
You may not use the verb “get.”
No one is allowed to speak, write words or draw illustrations as part of their performance. However, if they appropriately mimic a verb or a noun, non-language sounds are permitted (e.g., whistling a tune to act out the verb “whistle” or flapping your lips to effect the sound of a “propeller”).
The performance must follow the order of words in the sentence exactly.
No one may take more than one role; no one is permitted to sit out from the exercise.
You do not have to include punctuation or capitalization.