Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sentence Style Variety for Writing

Sentence Style Variety for Writing
by Virginia Knowles

These handouts, which I have used in my 7th-8th grade English class in our home school co-op, are loosely based on concepts from materials published by Institute for Excellence in Writing (www.excellenceinwriting.com).

 
Using a variety of sentence styles in each paragraph makes your writing more interesting.

Very Short Sentence: Very Short Sentences contain only 1-5 words. Use them to contrast with longer sentences, or put two or three in a row for effect.

• You won! Congratulations!
• Your mother is gorgeous.
• God loves you. I do too.


Begins with Subject

These tend to be boring if there are too many of them strung together in a row, so don’t use them all the time.

• Kate couldn’t believe what she saw in the box.
• The red kite dipped and swooped on the strong breeze.

Begins with Prepositional Phrase:

The prepositional phrase lacks either a subject or a predicate, so it is not a clause.


• In the house, we found a complete mess.
• Before bedtime, be sure to put away your laundry.
• During the sermon, Mike sat very still and paid close attention.
• Outside, the boys were arguing loudly.

Begins with –ly Adverb

• Cautiously, Margaret peeked around the edge of the doorway.
• Wearily, I plopped down on the couch.

Begins with an –ing or -ed Word:

• Swimming furiously, she made it to shore despite the riptide.
• Exhausted, she slowly pulled herself onto the beach.
• Panting, she explained that she had fallen overboard.
• Perturbed at this news, her mother fainted.

Complex Sentence with Begins with (or Contains) a Dependent Clause:


A dependent clause contains a subject and a predicate, but it cannot stand alone because it starts with a subordinate conjunction or a relative pronoun. It makes you want to know more to complete the sentence. You can use dependent clauses at various places in a sentence. Play with them and see which way it sounds better. You can use more than one dependent clause in a sentence.


• When you are done with that magazine, I would like to read it.
• I would like to read that magazine when you are done with it.

• While we were watching TV, Bowser dug underneath the fence and ran away.
• Bowser dug underneath the fence and ran away while we were watching TV.


• Where I live, we walk to the beach every day even if it is raining.
• If I don’t find my car keys, we can’t go to the concert.
• Since you won the local Spelling Bee, you can advance to the regional competition.
• Although she hated to wear them, your grandmother loved to knit socks.
• Because I detest loud music, I leave the room whenever Bob blasts the radio.
• Until you clean that room, you aren’t going anywhere!
• In order to ensure a clean room, tidy up a little every day so the mess doesn’t get too overwhelming.
• Once she had told the whole truth, she gained a clear conscience.
• Rather than tell a lie and suffer the consequences, you should always be honest.
• We practice writing so that we can get better at it, whether we enjoy it or not.


Begins with Transition or Sequence Word or Phrase:


Time


• Early that morning, she prepared breakfast for herself.
• First, she squirted honey onto a whole wheat bagel.
• Next, she spread crunchy peanut butter on it.
• Then she ate it.
• Finally, she cleaned up the sticky mess.
• Later…
• Before that…
• Beforehand…
• Once…
• Once upon a time…
• Soon…
• Meanwhile…
• In the middle of this…
• After that…
• Afterwards..
• In the end…
• At last…
• In conclusion…
• To summarize…


Cause


• Thus…
• Therefore…
• Consequently…
• As a result…
• Hence…
• If… then…

Explanation and Example:


• In fact…
• For instance…
• For example…
• In other words…
• To illustrate…
• Furthermore…
• Indeed…

Comparison


• Likewise…
• In the same way…
• Similarly…


Contrast


• However…
• On the other hand…
• In spite of…
• While this may be true…
• Yet…
• But…
• On the contrary…
• Still…
• Otherwise…
• Nevertheless…


Other Contrast Sentences

These can be structured in a variety of ways.

• Fresh vegetables give us many vital nutrients, but most of us don’t consume enough of them.
• We should eat healthy foods, not junk foods.
• We should eat healthy foods rather than junk foods.
• Instead of junk food, we should eat healthy foods.

Completion Sentences:


One part of the sentence makes a statement, and another part extends the same line of thought. This is not so much a grammatical structure as it is a logical structure.


• We are going to write essays, and then we will revise them.
• We are going to write essays, then revise them.
• We are going to write, and then revise, our essays.


Sentences with Who/Which Clause or Other Appositive:

An appositive is extra information, not vital to the sentence, which is set off with commas, parentheses or dashes.

• Julie, who didn’t know about the rule, ate spaghetti in the living room.
• Julie, not knowing of the rule, ate spaghetti in the living room.
• Julie, my messy little sister, ate spaghetti in the living room.


• My teacher, who wants us to learn to write well, assigned 12 pages of grammar.
• My teacher, wanting us to learn to write well, assigned 12 pages of grammar.
• My teacher, an expert in mental torture, assigned 12 pages of grammar.

• That booklet, which is less than 50 pages long, took me an hour to read.
• That booklet -- less than 50 pages long -- took me an hour to read.
• That booklet (which is less than 50 pages long) took me an hour to read.


Compound Sentences with Two or More Independent Clauses


A sentence with two or more independent clauses is called a compound sentence. Independent clauses can stand alone as sentences. They are combined either by a coordinating conjunction -- and, but, or, nor, for, so -- or a semicolon. Except for very short sentences, the clauses are separated by a comma.

• We will to go to the beach, and then we will go out for dinner with friends.
• I will move or I will go crazy.
• Jane thought she wouldn't enjoy the book, but she devoured it in one sitting.
• He can afford to buy the mansion; he is a millionaire.

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