One Limitation of Sentence Diagramming

Elizabeth O'Brien

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

Learn More

One Limitation of Sentence Diagramming

I usually spend the time in these lessons telling you about all of the amazing aspects of Reed-Kellogg sentence diagramming, but today I'm going to show you one of its limitations. 

We're going to diagram a sentence! (Don't worry if you've never diagrammed before. You'll still be able to see the point of this lesson without already knowing how to diagram sentences.)

An unexpected gift arrived in the mail. 

Sentence Diagram

gift = subject

in the mail = adverbial prepositional phrase

unexpected = adjective

arrived = verb (intransitive complete

An = adjective

Bring your attention to how the adjectives an and unexpected are diagrammed.

They are both adjectives, but they have slightly different functions—functions that Reed-Kellogg diagramming doesn't differentiate.

Here is a box illustration that I found helpful. I came across this idea in a diagramming book by Eugene Moutoux.

adjective and noun

Unexpected is an adjective modifying the noun gift.

It modifies gift independently. 

two adjectives and a noun

An is also an adjective, but it's really modifying the noun phrase unexpected gift

However, we can't show that relationship in Reed-Kellogg diagramming, so we diagram both adjectives an and unexpected in the same way, even though they have slightly different jobs. 

Reed-Kellogg diagramming does an amazing job showing how words function in sentences, but remember that diagramming doesn't always do a perfect job of showing the nuances and subtleties of every grammatical relationship.

You Might Also Enjoy These Lessons 

Elizabeth O'Brien from Grammar Revolution

If you don't want to teach or learn grammar by yourself,  click here to see how I can help you.

I have your Get Smart program and have been studying all of the videos that are provided. They are very wonderfully made and I enjoy every minute learning from all of them.

-  Preecha

If you want to teach or learn grammar the easy way, follow our step-by-step program which clearly lays everything out and allows you to move at your own pace. The Get Smart Grammar Program is presented in a logical sequence, so it's not an overwhelming mishmash of information. Just watch the videos and complete your assignments. Before you know it, you'll be a grammar and sentence diagramming pro!

The Get Smart Grammar Program
The Beginner's Guide to Grammar Ebook

Our Free Guide Gives You A Fun Way

To Teach And Learn The Basics v

Download Now
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. :)