Frances L. Roberson, M.A.
Grant Writing Specialist
California Distance Learning Project www.cdlponline.org
GED Video Partner
#7 Passing the GED Writing Test
I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead. Mark Twain
Video 7 Focus: Well-constructed sentences are the foundation of clear writing.
You Will Learn From Video 7: What makes a good sentence. How to recognize fragments and run-ons. How sentence length affects the sentence’s rhythm and reader’s impression. About simple, compound, and complex sentences.
Words You Need to Know: While viewing the video, fill in the blank with the correct word. Answers are on page 13. 1. A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete ___________. 2. A good sentence has to be __________, __________ and have a theme the same way an essay does. 3. The two components of a sentence are ______________ and ______________. 4. Good writing begins with ___________ and thoughtful ______________.
Points to Remember: • You can easily follow a correct sentence from beginning to end. • A “primitive” command sentence will have few words and an implied “you.” • Fragments are sometimes used in dialog, for emphasis, and to get attention.
A Good Sentence
After the initial work of conceiving ideas and thoughtfully organizing them, then it’s time to get down to work and create sentences and paragraphs that will communicate to the reader the ideas you have. Each sentence, in its own way, tells a story. For it to be effective in telling the story, you must be able to put the sentence together, scrutinize it, and correct any problems the sentence might have. Unlike spoken language, written language does not give the luxury of a back and forth exchange. It is not possible to know if the reader understands, nor is it possible to go back and fill in the gaps if s/he doesn’t. Writing must stand on its own. The definition of a sentence is “a group of words that expresses a complete thought.” It must be focused, concentrated, and have a theme of its own the same way an essay does. You’ve written a correct sentence if it is easy to follow from beginning to end, has no missing parts, makes sense, and is understood by the reader.
A sentence has two components: a subject and a predicate. A subject must contain a noun (name of a person, place, thing, or idea) or pronoun and may contain individual words, clauses, or phrases that serve as adjectives or modifiers of the noun. A predicate must contain a verb (and maybe a helping verb like “is,” “are,” “have,” “has,” etc.) and may contain words, clauses or phrases that serve as adverbs or modifiers. A predicate may also contain an object, the receiver of the action of the verb. Complete sentences may range from one word through 20-30 words. The smallest, “primitive,” sentences are direct commands and may contain only one word, a verb. Examples of these are, “Stop!” and “Continue.” The reason direct commands can be considered complete sentences is because the subject, “you,” is understood. Here are examples of complete sentences from very simple to more complex, short to long. Note that the subject is underlined once and the predicate twice. • • • • • • Help! (subject “you” is understood) Karen cried. The dog ran into the street. The red-tinged spider scared the children who were playing on the porch. House cats differ greatly from lions and tigers. The teacher taught the students the worthwhile lesson that honesty pays.
In each of those sentences, the subject comes first followed by the predicate. However, in some sentence forms such as questions, the predicate (or part of it) may come before the subject or main verb. • Do plants grow in the desert? • Is Bobby crying? • Are flashing red signals indicating danger? • When will your softball team...