Sentences and Style

Tips for Choosing Style

Include Variety

“Sentence variety is a means by which the writer helps the reader to understand which ideas are most important, which ideas support or explain other ideas, etc. Variety of sentence structures is also a part of style and voice.” (Douglas E. Grudzina and Mary C. Beardsley)

Adding variety to sentences gives it life and rhythm. Sentences with the same structure and length become boring for readers. Varying sentence style and structure also reduces repetition and adds emphasis wherever necessary. Long sentences are useful when incorporating large amount of information; short sentences help in maximizing the essential points. To enliven the paragraphs, the sentences should be of varying lengths. This also helps in creating effective emphasis. If many sentences start with the same word (The, It, This, or I), it becomes tedious for readers. Therefore, changing the opening words and phrases can be refreshing. Different beginnings help alter not only the structure but also the emphasis of the sentence. Also, one change often leads another, thus creating an abundance of sentence variety.

Use Subordination Carefully

Subordination is a grammatical strategy, which combines two ideas of a sentence, one being more important than the other. The less important idea is subordinate to the more important idea. The data chosen for subordination depends upon the meaning you want to deliver. The main idea should be expressed in an independent clause, and subordinate ideas should be expressed in subordinate clauses. Subordination enhances the writing style.

Ex:      As the sky turned dark gray, the wind died down. [Focus is on wind].

As the wind died down, the sky turned dark gray. [Focus is on sky].

When, Whenever, After, Until, Before, After, Where, Wherever, Because, Since, So that, If, Unless, If only, Although, and Even though are all effective subordinators.

Proper Use of First and Second Person Pronouns

Usage of first (I, my, me, mine, we, us, our, ours) and second (You, your, yours) person pronouns is important in establishing a link between the writer and the reader. Unless giving an opinion, one should generally write in Third person. Try to keep first and second person pronouns such as “I”, “We”, and “You” out of your writing as much as possible.

SENTENCES AND PHRASES

The first step to develop your writing style is to focus on sentences and phrases. The more you practice with different sentences and phrases, the more you improve and enhance your writing style.

Let us again understand the grammatical terminologies of a sentence. A sentence can be briefly defined as a group of words that consists of a subject (i.e., someone or something that does an action) and a verb (the action). The least group of words is called a clause. Some sentences may also contain an object (the thing or person acted upon).

The report recommended changes.
Subject Verb Object

If the word group has no subject or no verb, but its still makes some basic sense, then it is a phrase. It is a fragment and not a complete sentence, and is often used to create colorful and imagistic effects. These can be used in creative writing, but try to avoid using them in formal or specialist styles.

 

Phrase: While crossing the river.

Sentence: While crossing the river, he slipped on the wet stepping stones.

Make sure you consider the following qualities while writing complete sentences:

1. A verb that shows time: Include something that happens or is described in the past, present, or future. If the group of words has no verb, then it is a fragment. Even if it contains a verb but no tense, it fails to qualify as a complete sentence. Remember, gerunds (-ing) and infinitives (-to do) are not tensed verbs and can be used as nouns or participles.

Fragment: The committee considering the proposal.

Sentence: The committee considered the proposal.

Sentence: The committee considers the proposal.

Sentence: The committee will consider the proposal.

2. The absence of a subordinating word: Your group of words fails to be a complete sentence if any one of the following words or phrases is placed in front of it:

after if until
although in case when
as provided that whenever
as if since whereas
as though so that whether
because that which
before unless while

Consider the following example:

While common law has long implied that there is a requirement for mutual respect and fair dealings in the employment relationship.

 

The while at the beginning of the sentence implies that there is a second part to this sentence, which contrasts with the information given in the first. Without this second part, the sentence is not complete. To correct this problem, either put a comma after relationship and add another clause, or take away while.

Aesthetics of Style

The manner in which a writer puts forth a particular thought or idea is a very important aspect of professional writing. You should choose the most effective way to communicate that idea. This can be achieved best by knowing your audience and knowing what style would appeal most to them. Your writing should strike the right chord with your readers.

Having knowledge about your audience helps you to determine the choice of language; whether to use formal, impersonal, positive, writer-focused, reader-focused, conversational, active, or passive language. Your writing style has an impact on the reader’s ability to understand your writing; it does not affect the actual content. When writers write for themselves or some acquaintance, they frequently use the pronouns I and you. This is commonly found in memos, personal letters, diaries, or in stories written by students. The target audiences are they themselves, teachers, friends, and family. Personal writing calls for a language style that expresses emotion, feelings, or opinions. In impersonal writing, the audience is distant and unknown. The writers are not present in the text, nor do they acknowledge the reader. There is no expression of personal feelings, no usage of personal pronouns, and the choice of vocabulary, and the use of passive voice lends a sense of formality to their writing.

Examples:

  • You are creating a brochure about your company. You need to create different versions of the same brochure to appeal to different target audiences, such as, shareholders, customers, retailers, employees, or business associates.
  • You are writing an article or book for school students. It will be inappropriate if you use very high and polished jargon. They will just not understand it.
  • You are writing a business letter. You cannot use an informal and conversational tone in it.

You are writing a fiction. The style should be informal and realistic. The reader should be able to identify themselves with the characters and situations.

TIPS FOR SEARCHING THE INTERNET

Now-a-days, anyone can search anything in the Internet using the vast number of readily available search engines. However, your search may sometimes end up showing results quite different from your requirements. Use these few tips and tricks to search information easily and effectively:

»   Use multiple similar words to perform a general search on the topic. You may use synonyms or alternative search terms; for example, restaurant, cafe, bistro.

»   Many search engines do not differentiate between uppercase and lowercase letters, even if present within quotation marks. The following words would return the same results: english, English, ENGLISH, œenglish, œEnglish.

 

»   Enter base words for better and specific results. For example, use technology and not technologies, walk and not walked. However, if you are searching for web-pages on the act of walking, enter the whole term walking.

 

»   Use quotation marks to limits the search results to only those web-pages that contain the exact phrase you have specified.

 

»  Use specialty search-engines for searching information about a specific topic or region. Some examples of specialty search engines:

LawCrawler  Search engine for legal professionals.

AskJeeves  Your question and answer search engine.

MedHunt  Search engine and index of medical information.

 

» Use the plus (+) and minus (-) signs before words to force their inclusion (+) or exclusion (-) in the search; for example: +new +york +city or +new +york +state city.

 

»  Avoid using punctuations and common words, such as “a”, “my”, or “the”, unless you are searching for a specific title.

»  Use unique terms that are specific to the subject you are researching. For example, instead of searching for œdogs, search for a specific dog breed.

 

»  Use both the advanced and simple modes of search to retrieve relevant sites.