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I Once Taught English To 7th and 8th Graders...
Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:16am (XFF:

...which is the age at which sentence diagramming used to be taught.

I was one who did sentence diagramming when I went through school.

It can be a useful tool, but not everyone learns the same way. Some can't link the syntactic relationships between words to the visual relationships used in the diagrams, but they have an intuitive grasp of the rules of grammar. They can write impeccably, but can't diagram to save their lives.

Others can follow the diagramming rules with a sense of internal logic, breaking down sentence after sentence no matter the complexity, but at the end of the day, it does nothing for their writing. As a teacher, one has to adapt to the student. It is best to try to find methods that work for that student, and the time it takes just to teach the system of diagramming means that it has a poor cost/benefit profile as compared to other strategies. What I did in some years when I suspected it might be helpful was to do some introductory diagramming - just basic sentences without much complexity - and watch my students for reactions to see if there might be a good fit for a struggling student. If so, it could provide an opportunity to offer extra credit that would help shore that student up on whatever they were having problems with.

Now that I work as an editor of an anthology (not my day job, but I wish it were), I am amazed at how many people who want to be writers make some pretty basic mistakes.

I think that there is a piece of advice that is getting too much emphasis: "If you want to be a writer the most important thing is to just write. Don't worry about whether it's any good. Just write."

To an extent, yes. But only if you aren't intending on sharing that writing with anyone else. If you are going to share that writing, then I would say, "If you want to be a writer, there isn't one most important thing. There are three. Read. Write. Edit. Read at least as much as you write in raw word count. Write, obviously. Edit. Good Lord, edit. Get a professional to edit your work, or put the time in yourself to raise the level of your own editing skills."


  • absolutelyTrish, Wed Aug 30 3:52pm
    focus on the use of active language, grammar, textual order...I get frustrated at work when I see a hanging participial
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