Lesson plan

Diagramming Sentences with Prepositions

Diagramming sentences is a visual way to teach the function of every part of a sentence. In this preposition lesson plan, students will learn the basics of diagramming a sentence to identify the preposition.
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Students will be able to diagram simple sentences that include prepositional phrases.

(5 minutes)
  • Review the basic parts of a sentence: the subject (the person, place, or thing that is doing something) and the predicate (the part of the sentence containing a verb, which states something about the subject).
  • Remind students that all sentences will have these two parts. The most simple sentences have just a subject and a verb (i.e. Dogs bark.) Write the example sentence on the board to reference later.
  • Explain that today we are going to learn how to draw a diagram that shows us the basic parts of a sentence.
(15 minutes)
  • Show students how to diagram a simple sentence by drawing a horizontal line under the sentence (dogs bark) and drawing a vertical line between the subject and predicate.
  • Tell students that when we diagram sentences, we always start by identifying the subject and predicate as these are the main parts of the sentence.
  • Point out that most sentences we see are not this simple. Many sentences include a prepositional phrase.
  • Review the definition of a prepositional phrase (a modifying phrase consisting of a preposition and its object) and preposition (a word that expresses the relationship between a noun and another word) if needed.
  • Write a new sentence on the board (i.e. Dogs bark at people.)
  • Have students identify the parts of the sentence, including the subject, verb (predicate), and prepositional phrase.
  • Remind students that, since the subject and predicate tell who and what the sentence is about, it will be on the main line. Direct students' attention to the simple diagram you made previously.
  • Then, remind students that the prepositional phrase is a modifier. In this sentence it modifies the verb (bark) because it describes at what the dogs are barking.
  • Draw a diagonal line coming off of the bottom of the main line, below the verb (bark). On the diagonal line, write the word at. Explain this is the preposition.
  • Draw a horizontal line coming off the diagonal line, and on it write people. Explain that this is the object of the preposition.
  • Demonstrate several more examples (e.g. Joe eats with me. The cat over there is meowing.) Or show a video with examples of sentence diagramming (see related media).
(10 minutes)
  • Write a sentence on the board (i.e. I ran to class.)
  • Have students turn and talk to a neighbor to identify the subject, predicate, and prepositional phrase in the sentence.
  • Call on students to share their answers and label each part in the sentence on the board.
  • Instruct students to work with their partner to diagram the sentence in a notebook or on a piece of scratch paper.
  • Invite a student to come draw the sentence diagram on the board. Provide corrections as needed.
  • Repeat with a second sentence (i.e. The bag is below my seat.)
(15 minutes)
  • Hand out the Sentence Diagramming: Prepositions worksheet.
  • Review the example at the top of the page with the class.
  • Have students complete the worksheet independently.
  • Circulate and offer support as needed.


  • Teach students about prepositions and prepositional phrases prior to teaching this lesson plan (see the Get Down with Prepositional Phrases lesson plan).
  • Complete some examples on the worksheet with the class before having students work independently.
  • For student reference, draw a blank diagram on the board and label where the subject and predicate should go. Remind students that the location of the prepositional phrase will vary depending on whether it is modifying the subject or the predicate.


  • If students have mastered the skills in this preposition lesson plan, follow up by teaching students how to diagram more complex sentences (see the Sentence Diagramming Practice #5 worksheet).
  • Have students diagram sentences from a piece of text, such as the Diagramming Sentences: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland worksheet.
(6 minutes)
  • Cut the Preposition Examples worksheet into strips, so that each sentence is on its own strip of paper. Make sure there are enough strips for each student to have one.
  • Hand out one blank index card and one sentence strip to each student.
  • Instruct students to diagram the sentence they've been given. Check student work for understanding.
  • Optional: Have students glue their sentence and their diagram onto a piece of construction paper and display student work.
(4 minutes)
  • Ask and discuss: How does the act of diagramming sentences help us understand the parts of the sentence? What did we learn about prepositions during this process? What was challenging about this activity?

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