Diagramming: Basic Formats (or, "What Goes Where")


When diagramming, we use lines to indicate where every word in the sentence goes.  EVERY WORD IN A SENTENCE GETS ITS OWN LINE (usually).  There are a few different types of lines.






Vertical lines are used to separate parts of the sentence from each other.  A long VERTICAL LINE splits the SUBJECT side of the sentence apart from the PREDICATE side of the sentence.  Vertical lines also separate DIRECT OBJECTS from PREDICATES. 







DIAGONAL LINES are mostly used for MODIFIERS (ADJECTIVES and ADVERBS).  They can also be a home for PREPOSITIONS.  Another use is to create branching HORIZONTAL LINES for COMPOUND SUBJECTS, PREDICATES, OBJECTS, or anything else that might be compound.






DASHED LINES are used to indicate a connection between two words, phrases, or sentences.  Dashed lines can be HORIZONTAL, VERTICAL, or DIAGONAL.  CONJUNCTIONS are written on DASHED LINES.




The most basic sentences are simple to diagram. 

  1. Draw a long HORIZONTAL LINE. 

  2. The SUBJECT (NOUN or PRONOUN) goes on the left, and the PREDICATE (VERB) goes on the right. 

  3. Split the two parts of the sentence with a long VERTICAL LINE that crosses over the HORIZONTAL LINE. 

  4. **When you write the words into the diagram, make sure you capitalize the word that begins the sentence.**




If there is a COMPOUND SUBJECT and/or a COMPOUND PREDICATE, the MAIN HORIZONTAL LINE needs to branch off so every word gets its own line.  The word(s) closest to the beginning of the sentence go on top.


If the COMPOUND PREDICATE is made up of a VERB PHRASE (multiple verbs working as a single verb), you may need to put the HELPING VERB on the main line before the branch, since it is helping both of the verbs in the COMPOUND PREDICATE.




MODIFIERS (ADJECTIVES and ADVERBS) go underneath the word they are modifying on DIAGONAL LINES. 




If you have an ADVERB modifying an ADJECTIVE or ANOTHER ADVERB, you need to put it underneath the word it is modifying on a DIAGONAL LINE; this is connected by a TINY HORIZONTAL LINE. 





If you have words or phrases that are connected by a CONJUNCTION, put the words where they belong, then draw a DASHED LINE between the words, and write the CONJUNCTION on the dashed line.  The word(s) closest to the beginning of the sentence go farthest to the left.





A PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE goes underneath the word it is closest to OR underneath the word it is most clearly modifying.  Each word of a PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE goes on a specific line.   The PREPOSITION goes on a DIAGONAL LINE, and the OBJECT OF THE PREPOSITION goes on a HORIZONTAL LINE at the end of the preposition line. 





DIRECT OBJECTS go directly after the PREDICATE on the MAIN HORIZONTAL LINE.  Because verbs and nouns fight, you need to put a gate (SHORT HORIZONTAL LINE) between the D.O. and the predicate. 




INDIRECT OBJECTS are written on a HORIZONTAL LINE, but since they indirectly receive the action of the predicate, they are indirectly attached to the predicate with a DIAGONAL LINE.  This is the only time you'll use a diagonal line without writing something on it.   





Since an APPOSITIVE re-names or re-states a NOUN (or PRONOUN), it goes next to that noun (or pronoun); to make it clear that the appositive is a different word than the original noun (or pronoun), it goes in PARENTHESES. 

No matter where the APPOSITIVE is, it goes next to the NOUN OR PRONOUN it is re-naming or re-phrasing inside a set of PARENTHESES.





Because a PREDICATE ADJECTIVE wants to describe the SUBJECT, it goes on the main line, and it gets a "ramp" to help it "jump" to where it wants to be. 

A PREDICATE NOUN is diagrammed in exactly the same way as a PREDICATE ADJECTIVE, and for the same reasons.






The COMPOUND BRANCH allows us to diagram sentences that have compound parts (compound subjects, compound predicates, compound direct objects, etc.).  They can be rotated and reversed to fit wherever they are needed in the diagram.







If you have a COMPOUND SENTENCE, you diagram each sentence separately, then connect them with a DASHED LINE with the CONJUNCTION written on it.