Sentence Variety

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  • Topic: Sentence, Subject, Copula
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  • Published : November 4, 2008
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Technique Lesson: Sentence Variety

Hacker 117 - 119

When a rough draft is filled with too many same-sounding sentences, try to inject some variety – as long as you can do so without sacrificing clarity or ease of reading. Grammar checkers are of little help with sentence variety. It takes a human ear to know when and why sentence variety is needed.

1. Use a variety of sentence structures:
A writer should not rely too heavily on simple sentences and compound sentences, for the effect tends to be both monotonous and choppy. Too many complex sentences, however, can be equally monotonous. If your style tends to one or the other extreme, try to achieve a better mix of sentence types. •There are four types of sentences that could be used to add variety. oDeclarative: The echo always has the last word. (to make statements) oImperative: Love your neighbor. (to issue requests or commands) oInterrogative: Are second thoughts always wisest? (to ask questions) oExclamatory: I want to wash the flag, not burn it! (to make exclamations)

2. Use a variety of sentence openings:
Most sentences in English begin with the subject, move to the verb, and continue to an object, with modifiers tucked in along the way or put at the end. For the most part, these sentences are fine. Put too many of them in a row, however, and they become monotonous. Adverbial modifiers, being easily movable, can often be inserted at the beginning of the sentence, ahead of the subject. Such modifiers might be single words, phrases, or clauses. •Examples:

oA few drops of sap eventually began to trickle from the tree into the pail. Eventually a few drops of sap began to trickle from the tree into the pail. oEdward, dejected and withdrawn, nearly gave up his search for a new job. Dejected and withdrawn, Edward nearly gave up his search for a job.

3. Try inverting sentences occasionally:
A sentence is inverted if it does not follow the normal subject-verb-object...
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