Diagramming Sentences

Sentence Diagrams

by Eugene R. Moutoux

~ One Way of Learning English Grammar ~

Sentences from the First Pages of Literature

 
Sentence 1: "There once lived, in a sequestered part of the country of Devonshire, one Mr. Godfrey Nickleby: a worthy gentleman, who, taking it into his head rather late in life that he must get married, and not being young enough or rich enough to aspire to the hand of a lady of fortune, had wedded an old flame out of mere attachment, who in her turn had taken him for the same reason." -- Nicholas Nickleby, by Charles Dickens (first sentence of the novel)
 
Sentence 2: "Having emerged from the poverty and obscurity in which I was born and bred, to a state of affluence and some degree of reputation in the world, and having gone so far through life with a considerable share of felicity, the conducing means I made use of, which with the blessing of God so well succeeded, my posterity may like to know, as they may find some of them suitable to their own situations, and therefore fit to be imitated." --The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (from the first paragraph)
 
Sentence 3: "I, Tiberius Claudius . . ., who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as "Claudius the Idiot," or "that Claudius," . . . or at best as "Poor Uncle Claudius," am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the "golden predicament" from which I have never since become disentangled." --I, Claudius, by Robert Graves (opening sentence)
 
Sentence 4: "It is not merely that Greece has a claim upon our attention because we are by our spiritual and mental inheritance partly Greek and cannot escape if we would that deep influence which worked with power through the centuries, teaching with light of reason and grace of beauty the wild Northern savages." --The Greek Way, by Edith Hamilton (from the second paragraph)
 

Sentence 5: "To prevent, therefore, giving offence to their customers by any such disappointment, it hath been usual with the honest and well-meaning host to provide a bill of fare which all persons may peruse at their first entrance into the house; and having thence acquainted themselves with the entertainment which they may expect, may either stay and regale with what is provided for them, or may depart to some other ordinary better accommodated to their taste." --Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding (from the second paragraph)

 
Sentence 6: "He wandered westward into Pennsylvania, eking out a dangerous living by matching fighting cocks against the champions of country barnyards, and often escaping after a night spent in a village jail, with his champion dead on the field of battle, without the clink of a coin in his pocket, and sometimes with the print of a farmer's big knuckles on his reckless face." --Look Homeward, Angel! by Thomas Wolfe (first page)
 
Sentence 7: "However, when any one of our relations was found to be a person of very bad character, a troublesome guest, or one we desired to get rid of, upon his leaving my house for the first time I ever took care to lend him a riding coat, or a pair of boots, or sometimes a horse of small value, and I always had the satisfaction of finding he never came back to return them." --The Vicar of Wakefield, by Oliver Goldsmith (from the second page of the novel)
 
Sentence 8: "The nobles, whose power had become exorbitant during the reign of Stephan, and whom the prudence of Henry the Second had scarce reduced into some degree of subjection to the crown, had now resumed their ancient license in its utmost extent; despising the feeble interference of the English Council of State, fortifying their castles, increasing the number of their dependents, reducing all around them to a state of vassalage, and striving by every means in their power to place themselves each at the head of such forces as might enable him to make a figure in the national convulsions which appeared to be impending."  - Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, Chapter 1 (from the second paragraph)
 
Sentence 9: "In my native town of Salem, at the head of what, half a century ago, in the days of old King Derby, was a bustling wharf--but which is now burdened with decayed wooden warehouses, and exhibits few or no symptoms of commercial life; except, perhaps, a bark or brig, half-way down its melancholy length, discharging hides; or, nearer at hand, a Nova Scotia schooner, pitching out her cargo of firewood--at the head, I say, of this dilapidated wharf, which the tide often overflows, and along which, at the base and in the rear of the row of buildings, the track of many languid years is seen in a border of unthrifty grass--here, with a view from its front windows adown this not very enlivening prospect, and thence across the harbour, stands a spacious edifice of brick." - Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, "The Custom-House" (from the third paragraph)
 
Sentence 10: "Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit / Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste / Brought death into the world, and all our woe, / With loss of Eden, till one greater Man / Restore us, and regain the blissful seat, / Sing, Heavenly Muse, that on the secret top / Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire / That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed / In the beginning how the heavens and earth / Rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill / Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed / Fast by the oracle of God, I thence / Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song, / That with no middle flight intends to soar / Above th' Aonian mount, while it pursues / Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme." - John Milton, Paradise Lost (opening sentence)
 

Please send comments and questions to

ermoutoux@juno.com

Recommendations 

For information about grammar and composition: 

http://www.grammarnow.com.

For information about the early history of sentence diagramming: 

Kitty Burns Florey's delightful book about sentence diagramming, Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog, won't teach you how to diagram; but if you like diagramming, you'll love this book with its happy combination of scholarship and reminiscence. Visit Florey's website at http://www.kittyburnsflorey.com/. To get a taste of her style, read her essay entitled "Boring Things," which is anything but boring. It's on the third page of her website.

http://www.polysyllabic.com/?q=olddiagrams.

For thoughts about the importance of learning grammar and about the ancillary role of diagramming:

http://www.redshift.com/~bonajo/diagram.htm#links.

For links to many more diagrams: Return to Sentence Diagrams, title page

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