Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Diagramming Sentences

An Evolving Blog-Conversation . . .


Books inside you I first announced I’d be trying to stimulate Conversations on this blog back on February 12th

Two readers actually made comments that led to my post on Feb. 14th

This was followed by a response to one commenter on the 19th

And, because of that same commenter, I was able to respond, carrying the conversation further on the 21st

I should mention to readers just arriving here that these conversational blog posts are on Mondays and Wednesdays (and, in around 17 weeks, also on Fridays...).

I reblog on the other days; but, if the conversational format keeps working, we could have them more often…

And, as I indicated, something else happens here on Fridays, for awhile yet—the Story Bazaar

So… Books inside you

There was a comment on that post on the 21st—it relates to the post’s title—Escaping with Books ~ or ~ Escaping into Books—and, here’s that comment:

“In the title of this post the first, intransitive, use of the verb ‘escaping’ means the narrator is escaping from some unnamed threat and is taking the books with them. The second use of the verb ‘escaping’ is transitive so the books then become the object of the sentence and the narrator is actually going into the books to escape from the horrors of the world? Feel free to argue with me. I just felt my brain implode, rofl.”

There’s no way I’ll argue with this reader…

First, I’m old; and, when I was in high school, we learned to diagram sentences—an aid to understanding grammar and syntax…

However, in spite of that learning aid (which I haven’t used in many decades…), my overriding education in those structural elements of language came from omnivorous Reading

And, during the last 7 years of publishing this blog, my research has stumbled over plenty of articles that, for me, seem heavy-handed about what is “Correct” writing…

I write From my vast reading’s “memory” of structure; and, I write To the sound of the sentences…

So, transitive and intransitive can keep their names and I’ll happily comment on that reader’s Interpretation of the two halves of that post’s title…

Escaping with Books = “…taking the books with them.”

Escaping into Books = “…actually going into the books to escape…”

I agree, in principle, with both interpretations.

I do, however, see another interpretation for Escaping with Books:

Perhaps it can mean not only physically carrying a book in one’s escape but also carrying what the book, as a whole, Means to the reader…

I know the books I’ve read with great interest and identification, especially those I’ve read a number of times, are always With me; and, they definitely help me when I need to Escape from the pressure of today’s cultural idiocies—escape while I’m in the very midst of those idiocies

So…

Still in a frame of mind that won’t argue with my reader’s interpretation of “Escaping with Books ~ or ~ Escaping into Books”, I could pose this idea:

Reading, with concentration and empathy, will help you escape into books as well as escaping with books—you can live inside the book; and, you can internalize the book’s world to help shield you from
“The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…

So…

If I’ve made any sense for you in this post, I welcome Your comments, so I can continue down the road of this blog’s conversational trail………
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Diagramming Sentences ~ A Lost Art?


I have no doubt that the English language is always changing—usually extremely noticable in time-spans of centuries.

Still, grammar has remained remarkably stable—except for certain maverick creative writers.

Some folks gain the title “grammar nazi” while others leave all that boring stuff up to an editor.

Grammar is a branch of linguistics that deals with syntax and morphology (and sometimes also deals with semantics).

I still remember slowly slogging through books on grammar but spending hours happily diagramming sentences.

If you’ve never seen a diagrammed sentence here are a few examples (images from Wikipedia):

If you’d like a good read about the history of sentence diagramming, check-out Kitty Burns Florey‘s article in The New York Times, A Picture of Language.

Kitty says: “The curious art of diagramming sentences was invented 165 years ago by S.W. Clark, a schoolmaster in Homer, N.Y.”

Did you ever do sentencing diagramming?

Was it taught to you in school or did you learn it on your own?

Over the years, I’ve asked many folk if they’d heard of the technique but found very few who have

However, with many people considering self-publishing and simultaneously being unable to afford an editor, I thought I’d add a few links where you can learn it.

The first resource, called simply Diagramming Sentences, includes the download of a Power Point presentation so you can watch diagrams being constructed.

It begins with this quote by Gertrude Stein: “I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences.

The last resource, 500 Sentence Diagrams, amongst many other aids, includes sentences diagrammed from Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Graves, Edith Hamilton, Henry Fielding, Thomas Wolfe, Oliver Goldsmith, Sir Walter Scott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and John Milton.

Hope these help :-)

If you explore this technique, I’d love to have you report your feelings in the Comments.

And, of course, if you learned it in the past, please let us know what you think in the Comments
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