The fundamental construct of all written communication is the sentence. Sentences generally consist of subjects (participants), verbs (processes) and may have circumstances.
Sometimes these elements are understood. eg:
a) (you) “Jump!” or b) “John!” (Look out)
I. Kinds of sentences
a) Declarative or Declamatory - Make a statement or shout it from the rooftop.
b) Interrogatives, questions or Rhetorical questions - ask
c) Imperatives or commands - Tell or command.
d) Exclamatory - Show wonderment, awe or surprise.
e) truncated – used mainly in direct speech or spoken communication.
II. As well sentences can be categorised by their voice
a) Active - The boy threw the ball. (more personal)
b) Passive - The ball was thrown by the boy. (less personal, dramatic)
Ill. Styles in sentence Structure
The normal order in English tends to be Subject - verb- object and this is changed or inverted, mainly to gain a desired effect.
a) Simple sentence — One main idea.
b) Compound sentence with two equal statements joined by a co-ordinating conjunction: and, or, but,;
c) Complex sentence with a main and a less significant clause, joined by a subordinate conjunction:
while, because, when, who, which
IV. Sentence Structures and Emotive force
Variations in syntax, will give special emphasis to aspects of the ideas you express.
a) Loose and periodic sentences:
i) Embarrassed by a wealth of gadgets we had hanging on us, and needing out comrade’s help, we waded into the pool. (P)
ii) We waded into the pool, embarrassed by a wealth of gadgets we had hanging on us and needing our comrade’s help. (L)
b) Balanced and Parallel sentences:
i) They stamped both feet; they turned their shouting faces to the sky. (B)
ii) In the blackness of the doorway a pair of eyes glimmered white, and big, and staring. (P)
iii) People need to be coaxed, to be wheedled; they like to think the choice is up to them. (B & P)
c) Rhetorical Devices:
i) Inversion: Change in the normal word order for emphasis:
It was merry in May, to: Merry it was in May.
ii) Transferred epithet: adjectives transferred from one noun to another:
My friends have returned from a happy holiday.
Actually it was the friends who were happy.
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of the world! (Hamlet)
He strode into the room, stood at attention, saluted, then pulled out his gun.
v) Anti climactic:
He strode into the room stood at attention, saluted and burped!
John was an entertaining speaker, Jack was a bore.
I never would lay down my arms never, never — never.
Exercises on Sentences
I. Identify the types of sentences used in the following: (Answers below)
1. Bingley was ready, Georgina was eager, and Darcy was determined to be pleased.
2. There were the translators in their booths, and the girl secretaries at their tables, and the peak- capped policemen at the door, and the gallimaufry of the Press seething and grumbling and scribbling and making half-embarrassed jokes in its seats.
3. Hot pies and potato crisps they will eat.
4. The soldiers passed a watchful night.
5. John was wise neither in his choice of friends nor in his treatment of them
6. What a smash hit they released!
7. Breathe in through the nose and out through your mouth.
8. Where are the heroes of yesteryear?
9. He knew every twist of the saltwater creeks, every channel where the incoming fish might pause to feed, every crab-hole in the banks.
10. Thou shalt wax, and he shall dwindle.
11. Unfortunately he has never actually appeared in a play yet — what he can’t do is remember his lines.
12. They were blind to the violence and hurt; they were blind to the slower, more gradual solutions.
13. The Canberra Times, a publication which has broadsheet pretensions but increasingly tabloid practices.
14.He later claimed he’d been "misrepresented", presumably by his own mouth,
Try to change the above sentences to another type; identify the type and note the emotive effect of the changes.
Be on the look out for sentence varieties and attempt to classify them.
Answers: 1. Balanced, 2. Loose 3. Inversion 4. Transferred Epithet 5. Balanced 6. exclamatory 7. Imperative, 8. Rhetorical question 9. Parallel 10. antithetical 11. anti-climactical 12.13, 14. Balanced.
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