Sentence Structure

Sentence Structure

Fixed
Variable
Subject
Characters
|
|
Verb
Action
|
|
Complement
  1. Express actions and conditions in specific verbs, adverbs or adjectives. (Subjects in italics & verbs in bold face.)

The intention of the committee is the improvement of morale.
Or? The committee intends to improve morale.

  1. When appropriate, make subjects of your verbs characters involved in those actions.

The outsourcing of high-tech jobs to Asia by corporatioons means the loss of jobs for many American workers.
Or? Many middle-class American workers are losing their jobs because corporations are outsourcing their high-tech work to Asia.
[Note: one weak sentence turned into two stronger ones.] Exercise

Putting it all together (one passive verb to 4 active ones )

The Federalists' argument in regard to the destabilization of government by popular democracy was based on their belief in the tendency of factions to further their self-interest at the expense of the common good.
Or?
The Federalists argued that popular democracy destablized government, because they believed that factions tended to further their self-interests at the expense of the common good.

Nominalization. We can make nouns from verbs and adjectives.

Are there examples of nominalization in sentences above? Exercise

Active Character in a Sentence

Fixed
Variable
Subject
Characters
|
|
Verb
Action
|
|
Complement

Procedure to identify appropriate/concerned characters:
    1. Diagnose: Is subject abstract noun far from verb? If so;
    2. Analyze: Find flesh-and-blood character doing something
    3. Revise: Make f-&-b person the subject of the verb.

Decision4 in regard to the administration5 of medication despite inability2 of an irrational patient appearing1 in a Trauma Center to provide legal consent3 rest with the attending physician alone.
Or?
When a patient appears1 in a Trauma Center and behaves2 so irrationally that he cannot legally consent3 to treatment, only the attending physician can decide4 whether to medicate5 him.

Sentence Pattern

Fixed Topic | Stress
Variable Old/Familiar
Short, simple, familiar
|
|
New/Unfamilair
New, long, complex
  1. Readers expect familiar at the beginning. sentences. Listeners, especially, accept stress at the end.
      In P596 George received an A.
      In P596 an A was given to George.
      George received an A in P596.
      Why shouldn't everyone get an A in P596?

    The huge number of wounded and dead in the Civil War exceeded all the other wars in American history. One of the reasons for the lingering animosity between North and South today is the memory of this terrible carnage.
    Or?
    Of all wars in American History, none has exceeded the Civil War in the huge number of wounded and dead. The memory of this terrible carnage is one of the reasons for the animosity between North and South today.

    1. Choose topics to control your reader's point of view.

    Four score and seven years ago, this continent witnessed the birth of a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition of our fathers that all men are created equal. Now this Great War that engages us is testing that nation or any so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. The War created this great battlefield. A portion of it is now to be dedicated ...
    Or?
    Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate ... Exercise

    Managing Emphasis: New at the End

    Emphasis is achieved by managing the flow of ideas thusly:

    1. Begin sentence by consistently organizing your subject/topics around a few central characters or concepts
    2. Quickly close that subject with a precise verb expressing action.
    3. Then important new information is at the end of the sentence.

    A charge of gross violation of academic responsibility is required for a Board of Trustees to dismiss a tenured faculty member for cause, and an elaborate hearing procedure with a prior statement of charges is provided for before a tenured faculty member may be dismissed for cause, in most States.

    In most States, before a Board of Trustees may dismiss a tenured faculty member for cause, it must charge him [!] with a gross violation of academic responsibility and provide him [!] with a statement of charges and an elaborate hearing.

    In most States, established procedures restrict how a Board of Trustees may dismiss a tenured faculty member for gross violation of academic responsibility. That faculty member must be (1) provided with a statement of charge and (2) judged in an elaborate procedure. Exercise

    Managing New Technical Terms>.

    The effects of calcium blockers in the control of cardiac irregularity can be seen through an understanding of the role of calcium in the activation of muscle groups. The regulatory proteins actin, myosin, tropomyosin and troponin make up the sarcomere, the basic unit of muscle contraction. ATPase, the enegy producing protein myosin, makes up the thick filament, while actin, tropomyosin, and troponin make up the thin filament. Interaction of myosin and actin trigger muscle contraction.

    When a muscle contract, it uses calcium. We must therefore understand how calcium affects muscle cells in order to understand how cardiac irregularity is controlled by drugs called "calcium blockers." The basic unit of muscle contraction is the sarcomere. It has two filaments, one thin and one thick. Those filaments consist of four proteins that regulate contraction: actin, myosin, troomyosin and tropmyosin. Muscles contract when when the protein in the thin filament, actin, interact with the protein myosyin in the thick filament, an energy-producing or ATPase protein.

    Information is explicit, not implicit as in first version.
    Most important, technical terms -- unfamiliar to reader -- are moved from beginning to the end, e.g., calcium blockers.

    When readers see a technical term for the first time, they can grasp more easily if it appears after being defined: the end.

    Reasons for putting new material at sentence's end.
    Toward the end of a sentence a reader can best understand:

         long and complex units of information.
         new information,
         particularly unfamiliar technical words.

    It is at the end of an introductory sentence in particular that
         readers note those important concepts that
         your next several sentences will develop. Exercise

    Three tactics for managing endings.

    Quickie: Trim ending; Shift dull left; Shift important right..

    1. Trim the ending
    2. Sociobiologists now make the provocative claim that our genes control our social behavior in the way we act in situations we find around us every day.

      Sociobiologists now make the provocative claim that our genes control our social behavior.

    3. Shift less important information to the left.
    4. No one can explain how string theory unifies our understanding of matter in the universe in a few words.

      No one can explain in a few words how string theory unifies our understanding of matter in the universe, >1800 words

      Also avoid anticlimactic endings (but what is the climax depends on the purpose of prose).

      That GPSs work to within five metres in ten years shows just how accurate general relativity is.

      Including both special and general relativity in designing a GPS ensures its accuracy to less than two feet in a year.

    5. Shift important information to the right.
    6. Moving the important information to the end of the sentence is another way to manage the flow of ideas.

      Another way you can manage the flow of ideas is to move the most important information to the end of the sentence.

      A discovery that will change the very foundation of our understandings of ourselves and our place in the scheme of things is imminent.

      A discovery is imminent that will change the very foundation of our understandings of ourselves and our place in the scheme of things. Exercise

      Read rest on your own.

      Devices -- which, if used sparingly, spice up your prose.

      1. Passives -- to get topics and stress right.

        Sociobiologists make the provocative claim that our genes determine our social behavior. Our genes ...

        Sociobiologists make the provocative claim that our social behavior is determined by our genes. Our genes ...

      2. There

        A few grammatical patterns add weight to the end of the sentence. *There* are a few grammatical patterns that add weight to the end of the sentence.

      3. What-Shift

        This country needs a monetary policy that will end the violent fluctuations in the money supply, unemployment, and inflation.

        *What* this country needs is a monetary policy that will end the violent fluctuations in the money supply, unemployment, and inflation.

        *What* we need is a monetary policy that will end the wild fluctuations in the money supply, unemployment, and high rates of inflation.

      4. It-Shift

        - shift long and complex introductory clause that would have been the subject to a position after the verb.

        That domestic oil prices must eventually rise to the level set by OPEC once seemed inevitable.

        *It* once seem inevitable that domestic oil prices must eventually rise to the level set by OPEC

        - simultaneously select and emphasize a topic and throw added weight on the stress.

         In 1933 this country experienced a depression that almost wrecked our democratic system of government.

         *It was in 1933 that this country experienced a depression that almost wrecked our democratic system of government.

      5. Not only X, but Y, (as well)
      6. The point is to highlight our success, not to emphasize our failures.

        The objective is not to emphasize our failures but to highlight our success.

        We must clarify these issues and develop trust.

        We must not only clarify these issues, but develop trust as well.


    To cite this page:
    Sentences: structure, character as noun, new technical terms, ending.
    <http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~wilkins/writing/Handouts/vgs/sentence.html>
    [Wednesday, 23-Apr-2014 07:08:42 EDT]
    Edited by: wilkins@mps.ohio-state.edu on Friday, 03-Apr-2009 13:04:39 EDT