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Famous First Sentences Diagrammed

I must admit that I’m a bit of a grammar nerd…with one exception.

I loathe diagramming sentences. I think I missed that part of middle school English. Just the thought of diagramming sentences makes my eyes glaze over.

I get it. I understand the point. I just don’t enjoy the thought of doing them. In fact, I don’t even enjoy looking at the diagrams that someone else has done.

That is, unless you show me the diagrams of opening sentences from famous novels. Now that’s kind of interesting. Maybe just a little bit.

And the cool folks at Pop Chart Lab decided to take on that assignment and created an infographic that diagram 25 famous opening sentences.

A few of my favorites:

Beloved

beloved

1984

1984

The Great Gatsby

gatsby

Don Quixote

donquixote

You can actually buy a print of the entire graphic for $29. It would look like this:

diagram sentences

So there you go. Maybe sentence diagramming isn’t so bad after all.

More here. 

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24 Comments Post a comment
  1. That Gatsby one is a monster!

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  2. deweydecimalsbutler #

    I once saw a diagram of the opening sentence(paragraph!) to Paradise Lost. I think I’m a better person as a result.

    Like

    March 10, 2014
    • I think that would make my head explode.

      Like

      March 11, 2014
  3. Loved this when I first saw it!

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  4. Jetagain #

    I was the kind of 7th grade grammar nerd who liked (but not exactly loved) diagramming sentences. I have, fortunately, moved on but I’m still a grammar nerd. Just yesterday I emailed a local journalist for using the word “workshop” as a verb. She has yet to respond.

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  5. Daniel Casey #

    Reblogged this on Gently Read Literature.

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  6. Interesting! I never saw this done before.

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  7. The diagrams are fascinating. Trying to figure them out is also interesting. I never, ever want to learn how to do it, though. That would just suck the fun right out of writing. 😀

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  8. teresa #

    I love it. Nerd that I am, I did enjoy diagramming, but this truly gives it purpose.

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  9. Argh, I hate diagramming, but this is a nice artistic spin to it.

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  10. Are you taught this in school? We had something called parsing, but not diagramming….it is fascinating…

    Like

    March 10, 2014
    • Yes. I want to say we learned in 6th-7th grade. Somewhere around there. I hated it.

      Like

      March 11, 2014
  11. I appreciate diagramming sentences because it’s easy to forget how complex our language is, especially if it’s your primary language. Reading these feels natural and simple because it’s great writing, but once you diagram them out, you can really appreciate the complexity. I’m mainly looking at Fitzgerald’s sentence, but I’m sure there are many others.

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  12. It bothers me, though, that there are typos in two of the four diagrams shown:

    For the Fitzgerald sentence, the word “head” is used in the diagram in place of the word “mind” in the actual sentence.

    For the Cervantes sentence, the prepositional phrase “for racing” has been dropped completely from the diagram.

    I’d be tempted to redline the graphic before hanging it on the wall.

    Like

    March 10, 2014
    • Good catches. I noticed that “racing” wasn’t in there and even made sure I hadn’t cut part of it off with the image. But, nope, they just missed it.

      Like

      March 11, 2014
  13. It looks cool – but I won’t pretend to get it!

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  14. REALLY cool!!!

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  15. I grew up with diagramming sentences. It helped me with the grammar but it did not help me make my sentences sing. That’s what struck me about the diagrams. When I see Gatsby diagrammed, it looks like a lot of gobbledy-gook.

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  16. Reblogged this on Rosevoc2's Blog.

    Like

    March 10, 2014
  17. Isn’t it similar to tree diagram drawn by linguists?

    As a translator, I hold the view that diagramming is useful for breaking down long and complex sentences.

    Like

    March 11, 2014
  18. This is a brilliant way of breaking it all down. Not to mention being reminded of excellent openings. Thanks Robert.

    Like

    March 11, 2014
  19. Reblogged this on Dentro il cerchio.

    Like

    March 11, 2014
  20. Reblogged this on Spatzenprosa and commented:
    Bit of a grammar nerd, also with exceptions, yes, but not this one.
    Finally, an adequate appreciation of these linguistic beauties.

    More of this? Yes, please.

    Like

    March 17, 2014

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