Diagramming sentences

A new book traces the history and practice of diagramming sentences. I heard about Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog by Kitty Burns Florey on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

I learned a bit of sentence diagramming, but that way of teaching grammar was falling out of favor in the 1970s. I don’t know whether that hurt my education. Some people swear by the practice, but I think that it appeals mostly to people who think visually. Not everyone learns that way. What struck me about diagramming is how short-lived it was as a teaching technique. It was devised in the 1870s and was passe by the 1970s.

If you would like to know more about diagramming, the Guide to Grammar and Writing has a good explanation. You can click on a PowerPoint program if your computer is so equipped. You can find out about diagramming here and here.

You can read the original schoolbook that introduced diagramming, An Elementary English Grammar by Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.