Elizabeth O'Brien

Hello! I'm Elizabeth O'Brien, and my goal is to get you jazzed about grammar. 

"A pessimist sees..." 
Diagram A Winston Churchill Quote

Let's diagram a Winston Churchill quotation. Here we go!

Winston Churchill


"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."


- Winston Churchill 


If you already know how to diagram sentences, go ahead and take a stab at diagramming this quote. If you'd like some assistance along the way, check out the steps below.

The final answer is at the bottom of the page.

Step 1:
Identify the structure of the sentence and identify the subjects and verbs.

A sentence's structure tells us how many independent and dependent clauses it contains. Once we know this, we know how to structure our sentence diagram. This is a compound sentence. It contains two independent clauses that are joined with a semicolon. 

Now, identify the subject and verb in both of the clauses. If the verb has a complement (such as a direct object), identify that as well. 

Diagram these parts of the sentence. This information gives us the "bones" of the sentence.

sentence diagram

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity = independent clause #1

pessimist = subject

sees = verb (transitive active) 

difficulty = direct object (noun)

(x) = This symbol in the sentence diagram shows us that the two independent clauses are not connected with a coordinating conjunction, but with a semicolon.

an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty = independent clause #2

optimist = subject

sees = verb (transitive active) 

opportunity = direct object (noun)

Step 2: 
Identify the adjectives and adverbs in clause #1.

Adjectives tell us more about nouns and pronouns. Adverbs tell us more about verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

The first clause has two adjectives and no adverbs. 

Diagram the two adjectives under the words that they are modifying.

sentence diagram

A = adjective modifying pessimist

the = adjective modifying difficulty

Step 3:
Identify the prepositional phrases in clause #1.

Prepositional phrases begin with a preposition and end with a noun or pronoun.

The first clause has one prepositional phrase.

Diagram it under the word that it is modifying.


sentence diagram

in every opportunity = prepositional phrase (adverb modifying sees)

Step 4:
Identify the adjectives and adverbs in clause #2.

The second clause has two adjectives and no adverbs. 

Diagram the adjectives under the words that they are modifying. 


sentence diagram

an = adjective modifying optimist 

the = adjective modifying opportunity

Step 5:
Identify the prepositional phrases in clause #2.

The second clause has one prepositional phrase. 

Diagram it under the word that it is modifying.

sentence diagram

in every difficulty = prepositional phrase (adverb modifying sees)

Your Final Sentence Diagram

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

sentence diagram
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Elizabeth O'Brien

Elizabeth O'Brien is the creator of Grammar Revolution.

Her lessons are guaranteed to give you more confidence in your communication skills and make you smile. :)