Basics of Sentence Diagramming

There are three exegetical tools that every aspiring expositors must have in their toolset in order to properly interpret the scriptures. 1) Sentence Diagramming, 2) Phrasing, 3) Arcing or Bracketing. Sentence Diagramming deals with the grammatical or syntactical construction of a passage, while Arcing or Bracketing is useful in determining the flow of thought and main point of the author. Phrasing is kind of in between the two, it deals with some grammar(i.e. phrases, conjunctions etc.) and logical relationships. In this article we will learn the basics of sentence diagramming.

How to Diagram a Sentence?

Here are the steps in drawing a simple sentence diagram:

1. Determine the simple subject and predicate. For example, in John 11:35, Jesus is the simple subject and wept is the simple predicate.

2. Draw a horizontal line for our base line, and then draw a vertical line that intersects with our base line to divide the complete subject from the complete predicate, this is our bisector.

3.  Place the simple subject “Jesus” on the base line left of the bisector then the simple predicate, here it’s just a verb, on the baseline right of the bisector.

4. The predicate nominative and predicate adjective must be placed after a slanting line above the baseline. Example from the last clause of John 1:1, the Word is the subject, was is a linking verb, and God is the predicate nominative or subject complement.


5. Direct object must be placed above the baseline, after the vertical line or object divider. In John 3:16 God is the subject, loved is the transitive verb and the world is the direct object of the verb.

5. All modifiers like attributive adjectives, adverbs, most dative and genitive case nouns and prepositional phrases must be drawn below the words they modify. Again in John 3:16 the verb loved is being modified by the adverb so. It is diagrammed below the base line and the word it modifies.

On my next post I’ll discuss the basics of greek grammar with some parallels in English. God bless and thanks for reading!


Quits Sabio
Founder and President of Reformed Exegetes Society. Serving as an elder and sunday school teacher at Sovereign Mercy Evangelical Church Inc. at Caloocan Metro Manila Philippines. Quits is currently working as a Senior Lead Game Developer at Funguystudio(A Game Development studio at Makati Philippines). He is a musician playing various styles and genres(jazz,blues,classical,rock). A husband to Malou and a father to Amara.
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