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A Simple Way to Improve Your Writing

August 3rd, 2010

Most people use three different sentence formats when they write. With only these three variations your writing can get monotonous. If you expand your repertoire to include six additional sentence formats your writing will automatically seem more sophisticated and be more appealing to the reader. Don’t let the “grammar” scare you, once you read the examples it all starts to make sense. Here are the different formats that can transform your writing and they’re very simple to master if you use these guidelines:

Main clause: subject + verb + completers

  • Jeremiah walked home.

Subordinate clause: subordinator + subject + verb + completers

  • After Jeremiah walked home,
  • Because Jeremiah walked home,
  • Until Jeremiah walked home,
  • Unless Jeremiah walked home,

NOTE: Subordinators can give information about: time, place, manner, cause, condition, concession (if)

Phrase: contains subject or verb, but not both (sometimes has neither one).

The kinds of phrases are: participial, prepositional, infinitive and subordinate, such as:

1.  Participial phrase: participle + object

  • Delivering the food,
  • Watching the game,
  • Sensing danger,
  • Worked up,
  • Having fun,
  • Avoiding all the difficult tasks,

2.  Prepositional phrase: preposition + object

  • Under investigation,
  • In big trouble,
  • To bed,
  • At home,
  • Between friends,
  • Of each person,
  • Of no certain address,
  • Up front,
  • On time,
  • Down home,

3.  Infinitive phrase: infinitive + Object

  • To classify the material,
  • To struggle mightily,
  • To be silly,
  • To have big ideas,
  • To pretend sickness,
  • To sense danger,
  • To drive fast,
  • To classify the material,
  • To have no ideas,

4.  Subordinate phrase: subordinator + phrase

  • Participial construction:
  • After watching the game,
  • Before delivering the food,
  • Completely worked up,
  • Hardly avoiding the difficult tasks,

5.  Prepositional construction: subordinate + participle + prepositional phrase

  • After being under investigation,
  • Now having been in big trouble,
  • Almost on time,
  • Now under investigation,
  • Never on time,
  • Next to bed,
  • Then of no certain address,

6.  Infinitive construction: subordinate + participle + infinitive phrase

  • Unless wanting to classify the material,
  • If trying to drive too fast,

Now, after all that, here are the sample sentence patterns that will release the Hemingway in you:

Main Clause

  • Writing graceful sentences is really tough.

Subordinate Clause + Main Clause

  • When I try too hard, writing graceful sentences is really tough.

Main Clause + Subordinate Clause

  • Writing graceful sentences is really tough unless I give it total concentration.

Main Clause + Main Clause

  • Writing graceful sentences is really tough, but graceful sentences make up graceful paragraphs.

Subordinate Clause + Main Clause + Main Clause

  • If I am not completely involved, writing graceful sentences is really tough, so I have learned how to get involved.

Main Clause + Main Clause + Subordinate Clause

  • Writing graceful sentences is really tough, and I could really use a day off after spending a full day with the kids.

Main Clause + Subordinate Clause + Main Clause

  • Writing graceful sentences is really tough after I’ve spent a full day with the kids, and I could really use a day off right about now.

Subordinate Phrase + Main Clause

  • After a day’s work, writing graceful sentences is really tough.

Main Clause + Subordinate Phrase

  • Writing graceful sentences is really tough after playing with the kids all day.

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