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When I was in high school (back in the days of the dinosaur), my favorite subject was English. I enjoyed reading everything from A Tale of Two Cities to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. (Shakespeare was such an over-the-top dramatist, the scribe of telanovellas for his day.)

But I also liked learning the rules of grammar. To you, this may be nothing but a big yawn; but, for me it was scientific. Things were right (mostly) or wrong…not much in between. I first learned the rules of grammar in elementary school. One of my all time favorite assignments was to diagram sentences. Diagramming sentences fell out of favor in the 1970’s and 80’s, so you may not know what I’m talking about.

"It's a fairly simple idea," says Kitty Burns Florey, the author of Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences. "I like to call it a picture of language. It really does draw a picture of what language looks like." (From NPR ED: A PIcture of Language: The Fading Art of Diagramming Sentences.)

Diagramming depends on the sentence. It can be simple:

Or it can be complex:

Call me an English geek, but learning to diagram helped me understand how words went together in a sentence.

I am not the only grammar enthusiast in the world. I am a follower of the queen of the enthusiasts, Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl. She is an author, a journalism professor at the University of Nevada, and creator of the Quick and Dirty Tips network. You’ll find her on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. But I get my grammar hit from her Grammar Girl podcast. Besides offering grammatical tips, (What exactly is a run-on sentence? The answer may surprise you.), she often talks about confusing words. Is it ‘myriad’ or ‘a myriad of?’

Along with the “this is how you do it” tips, I particulary like learning about the history of the word, where it came from and how its meaning has changed over the decades.

Fogarty has an easy, open style that encourages questions and learning. Grammar Girl is a wonderful resource for anyone that writes anything. Check it out.

(Simple Diagram: Huffington Post)

(Complex Diagram: Pop Chart

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