Are long sentences bad? Bad long sentences are confusing and awkward. Well written long sentences add clarity and elegance.
Propositions and Sentences Propositions are stated or understood ideas presented (or assumed) in a given sentence. A sentence can contain one or more implicit or explicit propositions.
Sentences and Propositions I am an English professor. (factual claim) – Someone called “I” exists. – This person is an English professor. – Something called an “English professor” exists. I am a good English professor. (argument) – Being an English professor is something that can be measured or evaluated; the evaluation was positive.
Propositions in a Sentence Know what propositions will be accepted, challenged, or rejected by your readers. – I was a student in your English 191 class. – English 191 should be split into a two-semester sequence. – I got an F in chemistry. – The F is unreasonable because I did all the homework.
Levels of Abstraction Ford Focus Car Transportation
Levels of Specificity I love breakfast. I love a breakfast of eggs, sausage, biscuits, and orange juice. I love a breakfast of three scrambled eggs, one link of turkey sausage, two buttermilk biscuits, and a half pint of extra pulpy orange juice.
Simple Additions The boy kicked the ball. The young boy violently kicked the soccer ball. The eight-year old boy violently kicked his older brother’s soccer ball across the yard. The eight-year old boy, who had long dreamed of becoming a soccer player, mightily kicked his older brother’s soccer ball across the yard.
Compounding The boy kicked the ball, and it flew across the yard. The boy kicked the ball, it flew across the yard, and his older brother was impressed. The boy kicked the ball, it flew across the yard, his older brother was impressed, and he agreed to bring him to practice next week.
Your Turn Expand the following with two additional independent clauses: – The girl won a scholarship.
Subordination The boy kicked the ball. The boy kicked the soccer ball because he wanted to impress his older brother. The boy kicked the soccer ball because he wanted to impress his older bother, who was on the school’s soccer team.
Your Turn Expand the following with a dependent clause: – The woman was promoted.
Basic Cumulative Sentence Begin with a kernel: – They watched television. Add “free modifiers”: – They watched television, the man staring intently at the talk show, cradling his bloody hand, his wife glancing idly from the screen to the broken window, both of them longing to turn off the set and discuss their son’s decision to marry Catherine.
Free Modifiers vs. Trains Free Modifiers can be shuffled around in a sentence and still make sense. (good) Trains are linked together like the cars of a train. (bad)
Free Modifiers vs. Trains The boy sat down to write, retrieving a pen from his bag, which has grandmother had given him for Christmas, which had been a really disappointing holiday that had not been worth the cost of the plane ticket, which was considerable given his lack of money, a problem brought about by losing his job at the camera store, which he had enjoyed because of his keen interest in photography.
Writing Cumulative Sentences The man felt a sudden pain in his chest. The pain lasted for several minutes and grew stronger. The man had pains in his left arm, then his back, then his neck. The man began to have trouble breathing. The man broke into a cold sweat and felt lightheaded. The man was having a heart attack. He was not aware that it was a heart attack. He was about to die.
Cumulative Treatment The man felt a sudden pain in his chest, the pain lasting for several minutes, growing stronger with each minute, spreading to his left arm, to his back, to his neck; he struggled to breathe, breaking into a cold sweat and becoming lightheaded, never suspecting that this was a heart attack and that his life would soon be over.
Tips for Cumulative Use phrases instead of clauses (who, which, that): – The dog, who hungered for its supper, The dog, hungry for its supper, – The scout was lost in the forest, so he climbed a tree to get a better view. Lost in the forest, the scout climbed a tree to get a better view.
Participial Phrases Add –ing and –ed verbals instead of clauses – The boxer sized up his opponent, peering into his determined eyes, scanning the muscles of his arms and legs, scrutinizing his balance and position on the mat, calculating his odds for a quick knockout. – The sloppily packaged parcel arrived on his doorstep yesterday, unaddressed, unopened, still unnoticed by its would-be victim.
Backtrack/Clarify Cumulative elements can clarify or “back pedal” to earlier parts to give more info: – The man waited anxiously, constantly checking his watch, straining his ears for the sound of the train whistle, sweat pouring profusely down his brow, knowing his boss would not give him a second chance.
Other examples The cat purred, rubbing itself against the man’s leg, eager for the tuna the man had just dumped into a bowl. The speaker paused, allowing tension to build, hoping her audience would never forget what she was about to say. The fencer fought with skill and precision, swinging his rapier one moment, stabbing the next, timing each attack for maximum effect.
Exercise The woman was recklessly driving. – She was weaving in and out of traffic. – She was blasting the radio at maximum volume. – There was a pistol hidden underneath the seat. – Her husband’s body was stuffed in the trunk.
Exercise with Kernels The child sat on Santa’s knee. The hunter stalked his prey. The doctor observed her patient.