SENTENCE VARIETY Presented by the Writing Center
Define what a sentence is Review basic sentence structure Explore different kinds of sentences Learn how to create sentence variety
A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought and contains a subject and a predicate. Predicate expresses the action and provides the substance of the idea that is being communicated. Examples: The Beatles traveled the world. Paul McCartney and John Lennon composed music for the band. A sentence will be incomplete if it is missing a subject or a predicate. Example: Belongs to Ringo Starr.
Having sentence variety will help the writer achieve better clarity in her/his writing. Incorporating different kinds of sentences keeps ones writing interesting. Using both long and short sentences encourages the reader to stay focused and not become bored. Example: A boy plays the trumpet. He plays it loudly. The trumpet is silver. It is brand new. A boy plays the brand new, silver trumpet loudly.
There are four kinds of sentences a writer can use to create variety: Simple Sentences Compound Sentences Complex Sentences Compound-Complex Sentences
A simple sentence has only one independent clause. An independent clause is a clause that can stand alone as a sentence. Examples: A young man plays the guitar. The guitar belongs to Ringo Starr. His favorite music is rock. The young man plays the guitar on a lighted stage in Liverpool.
A compound sentence combines two independent clauses. Example: The musician wrote a song. It was beautiful. The musician wrote a song, and it was beautiful. The musician wrote a song; it was beautiful. The musician wrote a song; in fact, it was beautiful.
A complex sentence combines an independent clause and a dependent clause. Example: They were late. They missed the concert. Because they were late, they missed the concert. They missed the concert because they were late.
This type of sentence must have two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. Examples: The concert ended. The musicians bowed. The audience cheered. When the concert ended, the musicians bowed, and the audience cheered. The musicians bowed, and the audience cheered when the concert ended. The singer forgot the lyrics. The audience jeered. People left the concert. Because the singer forgot the lyrics, the audience jeered, and people left the concert.
Helpful Handouts: Kinds of Sentences Compound and ComplexSentences The Principles of Clarity Review of Basic Sentence Patterns