Consider this: if you know what you want to write regarding a particular feeling, thought, or event, how do you put it on paper to make it most clear and meaningful? Of course, the words you choose are critical; you must choose them carefully.
But the question remains: how do you best use them to convey what you want your readers to think and to feel?
That’s why your sentence structure matters. If you think of each sentence as providing a path to your meaning, then each sentence must provide adequate direction for your readers to follow. One sentence must lead to the next just as one idea must lead readers to the next idea.
By using appropriate sentence structure, your story line will be easy to comprehend. Also, your readers will want to read each line that follows.
In that regard, some writers challenge their readers with sentences that are so lengthy and complex that you may marvel at their construction. James Joyce and William Faulkner were masters when it came to writing sentences that took pages to complete.
Often, such unique sentences were regarded as examples of a ‘stream of conscious’ method that was meant to mimic patterns of thoughts put into words. It’s worth satisfying your curiosity to read excerpts from those authors just to experience their unique sentence patterns.
However, when it comes to writing in a more conventional style, choose from the three that I mentioned in the title.
The first of those is a ‘simple sentence’, always useful when you want to direct your readers’ attention to an idea or a theme or a certain action. It’s simple because it has a subject, a verb, and a period. Here’s one:
The detective caught the criminal.
But a compound sentence connects two simple sentences:
The detective caught the criminal, and the stolen car was returned.
The detective caught the criminal; the stolen car was returned.
A complex sentence contains one dependent clause and one independent clause. It’s important to note that the dependent clause is not a complete idea. It depends on the independent clause to complete its thought:
Because the detective caught the criminal, the stolen car was returned.
In the example above, it’s obvious that because the detective caught the criminal, is not a complete thought. It ‘depends’ on the independent clause, the stolen car was returned., to make the dependent clause a valid and useful part of the sentence.
Another acceptable written expression is an interjection. An interjection is interesting because it’s not a complete sentence. But it is a complete thought that often ends with an exclamation point.
Just two more things to remember regarding acceptable sentences. NEVER use run-on sentences!
Here’s one example:
The detective caught the criminal, and the stolen car was returned and I shouted Halleluiah and the car that was stolen was mine!
It’s a run-on sentence because it doesn’t fit any of the acceptable sentence categories. It doesn’t stop when it completes an idea. Because it continues long after the point where it should have ended with a period, it’s regarded as a run-on sentence.
There is one more thing to remember: don’t use sentence fragments.
What Are Sentence Fragments? Examples & Fixes.
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Apr 7, 2021 — A sentence fragment is a phrase or clause written as a sentence but lacking an element, as a subject or verb, that would enable it to …
It may be interesting to ask to read an article or a letter that someone else has written. As you read that article or letter, be aware of the writer’s sentence structure. By doing that, you’ll become more aware of your own sentences and how they might be improved.