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Variety in Sentence Structure

Sentence Variety

A writer or speaker feels that he is not using the language well unless he forms some short sentences and some long ones. So he varies the length of his sentences in order to lend variety to his speech.  He knows that using uniform sentences indicates immaturity and leads to monotony of utterances. Effectiveness and colorful style are attained by using various sentence openers, appositives, etc. This is what we call sentence variety.

Variety in Sentence Structure

Clause Openers

 a. Adverb Clause Openers

Opening a sentence with an adverb clause produces an sentence that is emphatic and suspensive. For example:

Normal order:

  • Evening approached and the sun sank blow the horizon.
  • The instructor was delighted as he watched the student pilot make a perfect approach and a smooth landing.

Adverb Clause Openers:

  • As evening approached, the sun sank blow the horizon.
  • As he watched the student pilot make a perfect approach and a smooth lending, the instructor was delighted.

 b. Noun Clause Openers

You many vary sentence arrangement by opening the sentence with a noun clause. For example:

Normal Order:

  • We appreciate most what we gain by hard work.
  • I shall never forget what he said.

Noun Clause Openers:

  • What we gain by hard work we appreciate most.
  • What he said I shall never forget.

 Adjective and Adverb Openers

You may vary the sentence by opening with and adjective or adverb. For example:

Normal Order:

  • The airplane is fast and dependable, and it is ready for any emergency.
  • The airplane was serviced and checked, and it was ready to go.

Adjective Openers:

  • Fast and dependable, the airplane is ready for any emergency.
  • Serviced and checked, the airplane was ready to go.

Normal Order:

  • The big fish suddenly broke the line and got away.
  • The driver calmly and quickly put on the brakes in time to avoid the accident.

Adverb Openers:

  • Suddenly, the big fish broke the line and got away.
  • Calmly and quickly, the driver put on the brakes in time to avoid and accident.

 Phrase Openers

 a. Participial Phrase

You may change a sentence composed of an adverb clause or coordinate clause by opening the sentence with a participial phrase. For example:

Adverb Clause:

  • After I finished breakfast, I went to the office.
  • When we completed our flying training, we went to the next base.

Participial Phrase:

  • Having finished breakfast, I went to the office.
  • Having completed our flying training, we went to the next base.

Coordinate Clause:

  • The student finished his work; then he went to town to see a movie.
  • The plot attained cruising speed, and he checked his heading.

Participial Phrase:

  • Having finished his work, the student went to town to see a movie.
  • Having attained cruising speed, the pilot checked his heading.

Grammar Tip 

The ING form of the main verb or HAVING plus the Past Participle may both be used with verbs that convey the idea of completeness.

Examples: Finishing my work, I went to a movie.

OR

Having finished my work, I went to a movie.

 b. Prepositional Phrase

A prepositional phrase may be used in place of a clause or other kinds of phrases.  For example:

Coordinate Clause:

  • The instructor graded the exams; then he returned them to the students.

Prepositional Phrase:

  • After grading the exams, the instructor returned them to the students.

Adverb Clause:

  • After we finished class, we went to the laboratory.

Prepositional Phrase:

  • After finishing class, we went to the laboratory.

Participial Phrase:

  • Mastering straight and level flight, the student pilot began to make gentle turns to the right and to the left.

Prepositional Phrase:

  • Upon mastering straight and level flight, the student pilot began to make gentle turns to the right and to the left.

 c. Infinitive Phrase

A change may be produced simply by shifting the infinitive phrase to the initial position.  For example:

Normal Order:

  • A student’s duty is to respect his teacher.

Infinitive Phrase Opener:

  • To respect his teacher is a student’s duty.

The infinitive phrase may replace the gerund phrase.  For example:

Gerund phrase:

  • Buying and old car without first inspecting it is foolish.

Infinitive phrase:

  • To buy an old car without first inspecting it is foolish.

A group or related sentences may be combined into parallel phrases. For example:

  •  A supervisor has students that he must interview.  He must advise and assign them to class.

Parallel Phrases:

  • A supervisor has students to interview, to advice, and to assign to class.

 d. Gerund Phrase

The position of the gerund phrase may be reversed. For example:

  •  His most difficult job was learning to keep quiet.
  • Learning to keep quiet was his most difficult job.
  • One of man’s greatest accomplishments was learning to fly.
  • Learning to fly was one of man’s greatest accomplishments.

Independent sentences may be joined with a gerund or gerund phrase. For example:

  •  Their efforts were coordinated.  Thus, more work was accomplished.
  • Coordinating their efforts resulted in the accomplishment of more work.
  • I read all night. It gave me a headache.  I took some medicine and felt better.
  • Reading all night gave me a headache, but I felt better after taking some medicine.

The Appositive

The appositive is useful for combining short phrases into one sentence. For example:

  • Mr. Jones is my teacher. He is an interesting instructor.
  • Mr. Jones, my teacher, is an interesting instructor.
  • The F-102 is a supersonic airplane.  It is a jet and it is very fast.
  • The F-102, a fast jet, is a supersonic aircraft.

 The Nominative Absolute

We may change a sentence containing an adverb clause by opening the sentence with a nominative absolute.  For example:

Adverb Clause:

  •  Since we had finished the recording, we turned off the tape recorder.
  • As we had finished Volume One, we began to study Volume Two.

Nominative Absolute:

  •  The recording having been finished, we turned off the tape recorder.
  • Volume One having been finished, we began to study Volume Two.

 

Comparison of Full and Abridged Construction

Notice the idea expressed is the same in both cases.

Full Form:

  •  The plane that is flying overhead is a jet.
  • Students who are interested in taking leave should see Captain Smith.

 

Comparison of Patterns

Study the following ways variety can be obtained.

Independent Sentences:

  • We finished Volume One. Then we began to study Volume Two.

Adverb Clause:

  • After we finished Volume One, we began to study Volume Two.

Participial Phrase:

  • Finishing Volume One, we began to study Volume Two.
  • Having finished Volume One, we began to study Volume Two.

Prepositional Phrase:

  • After finishing Volume One, we began to study Volume Two.

Nominative Absolute:

  • Volume One having been finished, we began to study Volume Two.
  • Volume One being finished, we began to study Volume Two.

March 26, 2015