Diagramming the Preamble to the US Constitution.

JMT sez, "I can't remember the last time I diagrammed a sentence, but this breakdown of the Preamble to the US Constitution is almost beautiful in structure. Very awesome."

Indeed. Plus, I hear the Schoolhouse Rock version in my head whenever I see this. Link (Thanks, JMT!)


  1. …Some entreprenurial individual needs to do a version of this on parchment, then do a sequel with the Declaration of Independence!

  2. There is a lovely essay, originally printed in Harper’s and now collected in the 2005 Best American, called “Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog”. It’s all about the pleasures of sentence diagramming (images included). The writer, Kitty Burns Florey, later published a slim book expanding it: http://tinyurl.com/376j8e

  3. They need to make a t-shirt out of this! I know a lot of English/History nerds (like myself) who would totally wear it.

  4. When read from left to right, this sounds like Miss Teen South Carolina’s infamous ‘such as, the Iraq’ address.

  5. I’d like to have the entire constitution diagramed like this on a handkerchief so I could rub peoples’ noses in it.

  6. Never heard of this kind of diagramming. Do they do this in all English-speaking coutries? Do other languages have this kind of thing?

  7. I’ve never seen this done in the UK (probably because the UK’s English grammar teaching is basically nonexistent). It strikes me as notably ugly and unpleasant compared to a simple annotated parse tree, but maybe that’s just me.

    I’m not sure what the point is of English grammar teaching at sub-university level anyway: native speakers handle it automatically, everyone else of lower-school age picks it up from the native speakers pretty effectively, and the ‘grammar’ they teach in most schools is so inaccurate as to be worthless (no, `the’ is not an adjective).

    Just hit them over the head with the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, I say. :)

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