Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sentence Diagramming: Wise Words Wednesday

Diagramming Wise Words by Will Rogers

Will Rogers, American cowboy humorist and social commentator, once said "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." Those were wise words, as they remind us that we must always take responsibility for our own lives, our own direction, and our own continuous self discovery and accomplishments.  

Let's discover and a accomplish a little bit today, using Will's wise words as a springboard into a lesson on diagramming sentences.

Identify Clauses

This sentence has three subjects, all "you," paired with three different predicates: "you'll get run over," "you're," and "you sit."  Two of those subject-predicate pairs begin with subordinating conjunctions, "if," and "Even if."  That means those two pairs are subordinate to a main clause, "you'll get run over."

We must diagram the main clause above the others to leave room for the subordinating conjunctions to be diagrammed below the main predicate. Draw your three base lines as shown in the image at the top of this post.

Fill in the Subjects and Predicates

Place all of the "you" subjects in the appropriate space to the left of each of their respective base lines.  Add the predicates on the right sides of the base lines.  Be sure to add the vertical line between the subject of each clause and the predicate of each clause.

"Run Over" as a Phrasal Verb

When it comes to diagramming "run over," don't confuse "over," the particle, for "over," the preposition.  In this instance, "over" is part of the verb.  In English we use "run over" as one verb to describe one specific action.


When it comes to diagramming "you'll" and "you're," be sure to separate the pronouns from the verbs.  It may look a bit odd to have "'ll" and "'re" on your diagram, but it is accurate and correct to do so.

"If" and "Even if" as Subordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are diagrammed on a "step," and subordinating conjunctions are diagrammed on a diagonal.

As stated earlier, "Even if" and "if" are subordinating conjunctions.  They are diagrammed on dashed lines that connect the verb in the main clause to the verbs in the subordinate clauses.  Whereas coordinating conjunctions are diagrammed on the horizontal part of a "step," subordinating conjunctions are simply diagrammed on a diagonal.

Diagramming the Prepositional Phrase "On the right track"

"On the right track" is a prepositional phrase.  "On" is the preposition, and "track" is the object of the preposition.  Prepositions are diagrammed on a diagonal line under the words they modify, and the objects are diagrammed on horizontal lines that stem from those diagonal lines.

Diagramming the Modifiers

The modifiers we have yet to diagram are adjectives and adverbs.  "The" and "right" are both adjectives, and they are diagrammed under the noun they modify, "track." "Just" and "there" are both adverbs, so they are diagrammed underneath the predicate verb they modify, "sit."

Thereby we get the diagram pictured at the top of this post, the wise words by Will Rogers,

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." 

Want to lean more about diagramming sentences?  

Try my complete online course at called "Diagramming Sentences: From Beginner to Expert in Twelve Lessons," or purchase my textbook online as an ebook or hard copy!

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.

No comments:

Post a Comment