Introduction to syntax tree(s)

A sentence is like a tree. It is the trunk.  The words are roots.

We will begin with a tree with only one word.

A verb can tell you to do something. It is a one-word sentence. It looks like the tree below:

Tress 1 NV

Individual or Small Group Activity

Draw and label trees for the sentences below.

  1. Jump!

  2. Help!

Start with a box labeled “S” for “sentence.

Add a box beneath it.  Fill in the box.

Adding a Noun

Next, we will add a noun. To do that, split the roots into two sides. Place the verb on the right and the noun on the left.

Think of yourself as creating a robot.  He has a square head (S). He is facing us. The verb is the right shoulder, and the noun is the left shoulder.

Label verbs V and nouns N.  The following, for example, is a tree for Fireflies flicker.

Small Group Activity

Draw and label a tree for each sentence below.

1.   Lions growl.

2.   Children play.

Adding more Nouns and Verbs

Next, we can add more verbs and nouns to our tree. The tree below shows the sentence Lions chase gazelle. Notice that most of the sentence hangs from the verb.

Creating Bigger syntax tree(s)

To create bigger syntax tree(s), follow these steps:

1. Name the parts of speech for each word in the sentence:

N             N       V       N         N

British pirates sank Spanish ships.

We can prove we are correct by applying the noun and verb tests:

            The British      Noun

            The pirates      Noun

            The Spanish    Noun

            The   ships      Noun

            They    sank    Verb   


2. Create a box and label is “S” for sentence.


3. Place the first verb to the right under the sentence box.

4. Place the first word in the sentence in the left-hand box

5. Put words from the beginning of the sentence on the left. Label the words.

6. Put words that follow the first verb on the right, below the verb. Label the words. 

  1. If there is more than one verb, put the first one in the upper right. Put words that follow that verb on the right, below that verb. Label the words. 

British pirates had sunk Spanish ships.  

Small Group Activity

Draw and label a tree for each sentence below.

1.   Dragons love wagons.

2.   Egyptian physicians bought magazine subscriptions.

3.   Gym users must wear tennis shoes.    Hint:  “The game named ___________.”

Color the trees after your teacher approves them.

A.   Use red for the S (meaning “sentence”).

B.      Use light brown for nouns

C.     Use light green for verbs

Individual or Small Group Activity

Complete either exercise:   Norway Grades 1+

                                              Norway Grades 7+