There are four basic sentence structures:
- Simple: A simple sentence consists of a subject and a predicate. They are easy to write and understand. Too many simple sentences, however, produces choppy writing and simple thoughts and ideas.
- Outdoor enthusiasts love the Dominican Republic.
- Compound: A compound sentence contains two simple sentences joined by a comma and a conjunction.
- Outdoor enthusiast love the Dominican Republic, and indoor enthusiasts love Canada.
- Complex: A complex sentence contains a simple sentence with clauses attached.
- Unlike the carnivorous snipe, the elusive South American strackalaka prefers leaves and grass–at least that’s what they want you to believe before devouring your children whole.
- Compound-Complex: As the name implies a compound-complex sentence combines a complex sentence with a simple sentence.
- With the proliferation of cell phones, teenagers throughout the country can text fellow students instantly, and teachers can take the phone away instantly as well.
- Put the subject close to the beginning of the sentence: Writers often bury the subject behind a lengthy clause, rendering the subject punchless. Obviously, there are times when the writer intends to highlight something other than the subject. It should, however, be done sparingly.
- Ineffective: Hurt more by the betrayal of his noble friend Brutus than by the shaky knife thrusts of Casca, Cassius, and Decius, Caesar collapsed and died.
- Effective: Caesar collapsed and died, hurt more by the betrayal of his noble friend Brutus than by the shaky knife thrusts of Casca, Cassius, and Decius.
- Use active voice, not passive voice.
- Ineffective: Frank was very angry at Ted’s betrayal.
- Effective: Ted’s betrayal angered Frank..
- Vary sentence length. Teach students how to combine sentences. Varying sentence lengths adds emphasis where the writer wants it. Experiment. You’ll discover a short sentence in between two long sentences makes more of an impact, for example.
Lesson Plans for Writing Good Sentences
Choose a paragraph to analyze. It could be from a published work or from something written in class.
- Copy the information above.
- Count the number of sentences.
- Write down the first 3 to 5 words of each paragraph.
- Note how many sentences bury the subject.
- Note how many sentences begin with the same grammatical structure or same words.
- Count the length of each sentence.
- Circle to be verbs (am, is , are, was, were, be, being, been). To be verbs indicate passive voice.
- If used for revision, rewrite the paragraph implementing the appropriate suggestions.
- If used with a published work, discuss why the author chose to use the sentence structure he did.
- Rewrite it (optional).
Click here for a complete standards based semester curriculum map with lesson plans and links.
This post is part of the series: Paragraphs and Sentences
Improving essays, articles, and research papers begins by improving sentences and paragraphs.