Nuns and sentences . . .

I sort of picked on one of my parochial school teachers the other day, mentioning her "critique" of my early story efforts. (Said critique consisted of her application of the business end of a Bic pen to the hard side of my head. One of the more pointed notes on my work I've ever received.) So in fairness, I should note that she - and all of the nuns and lay teachers I had in formative years taught me quite a bit about grammar and the ins and outs of the English language. (They'd hate that cliche, I should add.)

One of their best tools was diagramming sentences. I'm guessing that's out of fashion now, but learning how to breakdown and schematically represent how different types of sentences work gave me an invaluable foundation for writing. I had to know the rules before learning how to abuse them.

I really loved the diagonal and dotted lines of conditional clauses and phrases . . . though not enough, I guess, to do that now. And parallel constructions always reminded me of seesaws and train tracks.

I'm sure a few of them would be pounding the rosary beads pretty heavy these days to read some of what I write. Still, I am grateful for the Sisters, pointed pens, metal-edged rulers, and all.

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