Syntax. The way a sentence or phrase is arranged. Includes: Word order Sentence length Sentence focus Punctuation. Syntax builds meaning and purpose.
The way a sentence or phrase is arranged. Includes:
-The boy was worried about the test. (simple)
-The boy was worried about the test, and he studied for several hours. (compound)
-Because the boy was worried about the test, he studied for several hours. (complex)
-Because the boy was worried about the test, he studied for several hours, and his hard work paid off. (compound-complex)
Gary Provost on the Rhythms of Sentence Length
This sentence has five words. This is five words too. Five word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It's like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes when I am certain the reader is rested I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the symbols, and sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
The ball was thrown by the boy.
CAVEAT:Unless striving for a particular effect, avoid the passive voice. Passivity adds verbosity.
Example - In the next room music –my favorite song - plays.
When a passage, a paragraph, or a sentence contains two or more ideas that are fulfilling a similar function, a writer who wants to sound measured, deliberate, and balanced will express those ideas in the same grammatical forms--
words balance words,
phrases balance phrases,
clauses balance clauses,
and sentences balance sentences.
. . . and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – Lincoln at Gettysburg
Now in speaking like this, it doesn’t mean that we’re anti-exploitation, we’re anti-degradation, we’re anti-oppression. And if the white man doesn’t want us to be anti-him, let him stop oppressing and exploiting and degrading us.”- Malcolm X
Man, for all his daylight activities, is, at best, an evening creature. Our every addiction to the day and our compulsion, manifest through the ages, to invent and use illuminating devices, to contest with midnight, to cast off sleep as we would death, suggest that we know more of the shadows than we are willing to recognize. ---
With the scorching prairie fires, it came. With the surging floods, it came. With the defensive Indians, it came. With every step, death came to the wagon trains.
They remind us that human have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a job, that knowledge is a prerequisite to survival.
Where thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God.
Don’t knock parallelism. It sings. It excites. It works.
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call. . . The Twilight Zone.
Like every great river and every great sea, the moon belongs to noneandbelongs to all.
“That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. . .
Brutus: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
Living together = shacking up
Freedom fighter = terrorist or guerilla
Pro-choice = murderer or baby killer
Pro-life = brainwashed conservative
The repetition of the same group of words at the beginning of successive clauses.
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields . . . (Winston Churchill)
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day the state of Mississippi, a statesweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed. . .
I have a dream. . .
It is repetition of the same group of words at the end of a clause, sentence, or verse.
Remember the day I borrowed your brand new car, and I dented it?
I thought you’d kill me, but you didn’t. And remember the time I dragged you to the beach, and you said it would rain, and it did? I thought you’d say, “I told you so,” but you didn’t. Do you remember the time I flirted with all the guys to make you jealous and you were? I thought you’d leave me, but you didn’t. Do you remember the time I spilled strawberry pie all over your car rug? I thought you’d hit me, but you didn’t.
And remember the time I forgot to tell you that the dance was formal, and you showed up in jeans. I thought you’d drop me, but you didn’t. Yes, there were lots of things you didn’t do. But you put up with me, and you loved me, and you protected me.There were lots of things I wanted to make up to you when you returned from Vietnam. But you didn’t. (1982, 75-76)
I talked more quickly—more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key with gesticulations, but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observation of the men—but the noise steadily increased. (1938, 306)
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” (John F. Kennedy).
“Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”-JFK
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
“The world is divided into governments who own the people, and people who own the government.”-Churchill
And Ali, gloves to his head, elbows to his ribs, stood and swayed and was rattled and banged and shaken like a grasshopper at the top of a reed when the wind whips, and the ropes shook and swung like sheets in a storm. . .
Never steal, cheat, lie, or drink-
But if you must steal, steal away
from bad company.
If you must cheat, cheat death.
If you must lie, lie in the arms of
the one you love.
And if you must drink, drink in
the good times.
Polyptoton (po-lip-to-ton) is the repetition of words with the same root.
With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder. —John of Gaunt in Shakespeare's Richard II 2.1.37
It is the use of one subject with two (or more) verbs, a verb with two (or more) direct objects that have different meanings, two (or more) subjects with one verb, and so forth. The main benefit of the linking is that it shows relationships between ideas and actions more clearly.
Hold hands firmly, hearts gently.
Mother Simpson: [singing] How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?Homer: Seven.Lisa: No, dad, it's a rhetorical question.Homer: OK, eight.Lisa: Dad, do you even know what "rhetorical" means?Homer: Do I know what "rhetorical" means?
“That’s O. K., Donald—’why do I even bother?’ is a rhetorical question.”
…to have and to hold…
pride of place
cool as a cucumber
“In twenty campaigns, on one hundred battlefields, around one thousand campfires…” - General Douglas MacArthur
This is one planet in a solar system of nine, floating around in a galaxy of billions.
The semicolon gives equal weight to two or more independent clauses in a sentences
The seven years’ difference in our ages lay between us like a chasm: I wondered if these years would ever operate between us as a bridge.
James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues”
The “chasm” of the first clause is connected to the “bridge” of the second clause, and the possibility of reconciliation for the characters is raised through the syntax.
“But the show’s most famous motto – “Live long and prosper!” – proved to be downright prophetic.” Michael Logan, TV Guide
“In Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people -- the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me.” George Orwell, “Shooting an Elephant”
“Tourists...swarm all over the Statue of Liberty (where many a resident of the town has never set foot), they invade the Automat, visit radio stations, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and they window shop.” --E.B.White
“In a trice (which, in Bangladesh, is two and a half hours) we were back in our hired cab.” --P.J. O’Rourke
They march. They skip. They paint. They float like the song of a sparrow on a midnight summer breeze. Writers beat rhythms of musical syntax as backgrounds to ideas of joy, love, and anger. In every genre from science fiction to journalism, they use the subtle cadences of structure to emphasize
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