2.3 Sentence Structure
Now that we've addressed spelling, word choice, and punctuation, let's expand our view to sentences. You might need a new sentence or even a new paragraph to explain the term or a concept in simple straightforward English. Imperative sentences are advisable when you're making a to do list, creating an agenda, or outlining an instructional manual.
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In this lesson, I will address some important considerations regarding sentences. I’ll talk about some general rules, review the parts of a sentence, and sentence types. I’ll also review parallel structure. Now that we’ve addressed spelling, word choice, and punctuation, let’s expand our view to sentences. When writing sentences, we wanna keep in mind a few general themes. First, be specific. Try to avoid terms that are general in nature unless they are truly appropriate. For example, instead of referring to the people in a room, use the students, the parents, the attendees, or another more specific term. When you’re writing about technical matters, you might have terms or words that you need to define that you, that you need to define. If your audience includes non-specialists, use only technical terms that are absolutely necessary. And provide definitions. However, don’t try to define each technical term within the sentence where it first appears unless there are only a few. You might need a new sentence or even a new paragraph to explain the term or a concept in simple straightforward English. Second, be accurate. Be sure that your sentence structure, word choice, word order, and punctuation are such that your meaning is clear. Leave no room for ambiguity. Third, be specific. Leave nothing to assumption or imagination. In fact, you want to be so specific that you lead your readers to draw their own conclusions. Fourth, use an active, not a passive voice. I spoke about this in module one. Fifth, strive for conversational style, which will make your writing much more engaging. Here’s an example of what I mean when I say ensure accuracy. As you can see, the order of words and punctuation can alter the meaning of a sentence considerably. You will also sometimes find that in order to be truly accurate, you may need to add a word or, or a couple of words. Try the next one yourself. Now it’s time to talk about the parts of a sentence. If you are like me, when someone starts talking about predicates and participles I think why does this have to be so complicated. In fact, it really isn’t or at least it doesn’t have to be. And don’t let words like predicate and participle put you off. Complete sentences are always advisable in business writing. And each complete sentence must have two parts. What or who the sentence is about which is the subject. And something about that object or person, what they’re doing, what they want, where they’ve been, just something about the subject. We call that part a predicate. Even the simplest sentence has both parts. For example, I am is a complete sentence. I is the subject,. And am is the predicate. Both subjects and predicates can be simple and complex. So length does not determine what a subject and a predicate is. Here’s a sentence that’s a little bit longer. The committee has approved the by-laws. The subject is the committee. And the predicate is, have approved the by-laws. Loss. Also, as a general rule of thumb, the optimal average for a readable sentence is no more than 20. There are four types of sentences. Declarative sentences are the most commonly used sentence type in business writing. And these are sentences that make a statement, and they end with a period. For example, the picnic will feature an El Pollo Loco lunch and beverages. Iterrogative sentences are sentences that ask a question and end in a question mark. Interrogative questions don’t necessarily follow the format of subject plus predicate. For example, would you like to have water with your meal? Imperative sentences give a command or make a request. They usually end with a period, though, sometimes they can end with an exclamation point. Although, to do so is not really recommended in business writing. Imperative sentences are advisable when you’re making a to do list, creating an agenda, or outlining an instructional manual. For example, all swimmers are expected to bring their own swim fins. Exclamatory sentences are sentences that express strong feeling. They usually end with an exclamation mark. For example, congratulations on your promotion! Parallel form is another important characteristic of professional quality sentences. Parallel form, or parallel structure, means similar content and function are written similarly. This very often occurs when the sentence includes a list of some sort or when you’re comparing two things. When this is the case, you should use a pattern in the way you create it. In example one, note that defending is not following parallel form. The two verbs preceding it in the list are cite and make. The correct form would be defend. In example two, note the combination of in and outside, the words should be inside and outside or in and out. Please remember, as you write your sentences, to be concise. Use words and punctuation that accurately convey your message. And ensure that your sentences are complete, and that you use parallel structure whenever you have a list of some sort, or you’re making a comparison within the sentence.
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