Looking for Diagramming Resources?

In the world of classical education, diagramming sentences is a popular way to learn the basics of grammar. We’ve recently released our very own diagramming course (which of course we highly recommend), but there are plenty of other good books and online courses out there too. In this blog post I’d like to highlight just a few of the available options.


Let’s start with books. 

1. If I were to recommend a single title, it would be Eugene Moutoux’s Drawing Sentences. This is really three books in one, with plenty of examples and exercises, a great list of definitions, and an excellent index. The only cons are that it’s quite expensive and that it assumes some basic familiarity with parts of speech. 

2. Also very good is a pair of books: How to Diagram Any Sentence and The Diagramming Dictionary. The latter includes examples of various types of sentences. The other is an exercise book. These don’t include as many complex sentences as Moutoux’s Drawing Sentences, but nevertheless provide a great introduction. Aesthetically they are also more appealing, with their clean layout and hand-drawn diagrams. Of the two books, I especially liked the dictionary.

3. Another useful book is Phyllis Davenport’s Rex Barks. It works well for learners who enjoy reading explanations rather than depending more on the visual illustrations. This is also a downside, as it’s easy to get bogged down in the prose. As a result, I would rank this book somewhat below the others.

4. A book that deserves an honorary mention is Kitty Burns Florey’s Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog. This book will not teach you how to diagram sentences. Instead, it’s a history of how diagramming became popular in education and then fell into obscurity, only to be revived in recent years. The book is interesting, though I found the style a bit self-conscious. Burns Florey is also surprisingly skeptical about the value of diagramming.    

Online Resources

Various online courses teach diagramming. I am not in a position to evaluate them, other than to say that many of them seem quite expensive. But I do want to highlight one tool that looks intriguing. The Let’s Diagram website allows you to diagram sentences by simply dragging and dropping the various types of lines. Personally, I prefer using pen and paper, but this has its appeal.

Finally, just a quick plug for our own course. If you’re looking for an affordable course with clear examples, video tutorials, and plenty of exercises, then check out our course on diagramming. It assumes that you’re starting at a beginner level and will teach you all the basics of sentence diagramming.
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