Diagramming sentences: What’s that?

Trying to ease back into Style Guru mode on the heels of vacation is a fruitless endeavor. My mind is focused on mountains, vineyards and sunsets – not dangling modifiers, misplaced clauses and subject-verb agreement.

Between winery tours in Virginia, one of my friends, who teaches reading in elementary school, told me that schools no longer teach kids how to diagram sentences. What? Are you kidding me? We’re both 40-something and this skill was ingrained in us. The Schoolhouse Rock series reinforced what we’d learned (“Conjunction Junction” was always one of my favorites) in a way that just about all of my classmates could absorb.

The kids at my friend’s school learn about articles, prepositions, conjunctions and such, but they don’t have to identify the subject, noun, verb, adjective and other basic parts of a sentence. That’s what diagramming is all about, and it’s not rocket science. Did someone decide it’s too difficult?

Occasionally, I run across tests that children in the 1800s had to pass to move on to the next grade and they’re exceptionally more difficult than anything I had to take. Maybe not teaching how to diagram a sentence goes along with the general dumbing down of America.

About Dawn

Dawn is the senior editor at The Simons Group. As a grammar queen, she'd rather lose her wallet than misplace an apostrophe. Fellow copy ninjas unite -- you have an ally.

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