Henry David Thoreau & Sentence Diagramming

Henry David Thoreau & Sentence Diagramming

Today, we're diagramming a quotation that is sort of from Henry David Thoreau.

How can something be "sort of" by someone? Well, the quotation, which is usually attributed to Thoreau, is actually a paraphrased version of a section of his book Walden. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to read the real version.)

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. 

Live the life you have imagined. 

The video only covers diagramming the first sentence, but you can also see a diagram of the second sentence below.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.

"Go confidently" sentence diagram

(you) = subject (pronoun)

Go = verb (intransitive complete) 

confidently = adverb

in the direction = prepositional phrase (adverb) 

in = preposition

direction = noun (object of the preposition)

the = adjective 

of your dreams = prepositional phrase (adjective)

of = preposition

dreams = noun (object of the preposition) 

your = adjective

Live the life you have imagined.

Thoreau Quotation sentence diagram

(you) = subject (pronoun)

Live = verb (transitive active)

life = noun (direct object)

the = adjective

(that) you have imagined = dependent adjective clause

you = subject of dependent adjective clause (pronoun)

have imagined = verb phrase of dependent adjective clause

(that) = implied direct object (relative pronoun introducing dependent adjective clause)

The Real Quotation 

After trying to figure out where Thoreau wrote/said this, I discovered that this quotation is actually a paraphrased section from his book Walden.

Elizabeth O'Brien holding Walden

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours … In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.

Someone simplified that passage and made it into an imperative sentence, but I don't know who. It seems like that person should get partial credit. :) If you have any leads, let me know.

If you'd like to teach or learn grammar the easy way—with sentence diagrams—check out our Get Smart Grammar Program.

It starts from the very beginning and teaches you grammar and sentence diagramming in easy, bite-size lessons. 

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Elizabeth O'Brien

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

Your simple explanations about the seemingly complex English language have been wonderful for my students who did not "get" it. My students (most diagnosed with "serious" issues) can identify verbs/subject/object in sentences easily and verbalize why these are important in language.

- Astrid, Tutor

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Other Helpful Resources

  • You can now diagram your sentences right on your computer with Let's Diagram. Yay!