by Marie L. Waddell Robert M. Esch Roberta R. Walker Barron's Educational Series; 3rd edition (Aug. 1993). The Art of Styling Sentences: 20 Patterns for Success. PATTERN 1: Compound sentence: semicolon, no conjunction (2 short, related sentences now joined) S V ; S V .
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Marie L. Waddell
Robert M. Esch
Roberta R. Walker
Series; 3rd edition
(Aug. 1993)The Art of Styling Sentences: 20 Patterns for Success
(2 short, related sentences now joined)
SV ; SV .
What precedes and what follows the
semicolon must be capable of standing alone.
a. Try on this jacket; it seems to be your size.
b. Hard work is only one side of the equation; talent is the other.
c. Some people dream of being something; others stay awake and are.
d. “E.T., don’t phone home; it’s too expensive.”
– El Paso Herald-Post
e. “Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.” – Aesop
f. “Forget defensive driving; practice paranoid driving.” – Jim Lanham, El Paso Herald-Post
during your whole life you ought not to
be displeased with in a moment. A
stone is many years becoming a ruby;
take care that you do not destroy it in
an instant against another stone.
~ Saadi (Sheikh Muslih Addin)
Iranian poet; c. 1184–?1292
Use a conjunctive adverb (connector)
such as however, hence, therefore, thus,
then, moreover, nevertheless, likewise,
consequently, or accordingly.
The comma after the connector is
optional; however, I recommend using
one if you use a polysyllabic
a. David had worked in the steaming jungle for two years without leave; hence he was tired almost beyond endurance.
b. This gadget won’t work; therefore, you shouldn’t buy it.
such as and, or, for, but, nor, yet, or so.
SV ; SV , and SV.
SV, but SV ; SV .
a. It was radical; it was daring, but mostly it was cheap.
b. The snow fell rapidly, and in the building Harold felt safe; he dreaded leaving his shelter for the long, dangerous trip home.
a. “Blot out vain pomp; check impulse; quench appetite; keep reason under its own control.” – Marcus Aurelius
b. “Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is the freshness of the deep spring of life.”
– Stanley Ullman,
15th-century French essayist
Compound sentence with elliptical construction
S V DO or SC ; S , DO or SC.
(comma indicates the omitted verb)
Elliptical clauses add elegance and efficiency to your sentences.
the 1950s was a disaster; for others, a godsend.
d. Tom played a musical number by Bach; Jed, one by
e. An artist’s instinct is intuitive, not rational; aesthetic,
f. Washington, D.C., has 92 police officers per 10,000 people; New Jersey, 41; West Virginia, 16.
SV : SV.
General statement (idea) specific statement (example)
_____________________ : _________________________
(an independent clause) (an independent clause)
When he is dying, Giles Corey murmurs these famous words: “More weight.”
a. Darwin’s Origin of Species forcibly states a harsh truth: only the fittest survive.
b. A lizard never worries about losing its tail: it can always grow another.
c. Don’t forget what the old saying prudently advises: Be careful what you wish for because you may actually get it.
stretch out places in the heart for joy.”
Nothing makes the earth seem
so spacious as to have friends at
a distance: they make the
latitudes and longitudes.
~Henry David Thoreau
SV – SV.
A. Specific statement (example) general statement (idea)
________________________ – _________________________
(an independent clause) (an independent clause)
Because a dash is more informal,
use this structure sparingly.
A series of parallel items
(in any part of the sentence)
separated by commas
but without a conjunction
A, B, C S V.
S V A, B, C.
the deliberate omission of conjunctions in a
series of related clauses
a. The coach is loud, profane, demonstrative; he has again been trapped, caught, humiliated.
b. With wisdom, patience, virtue, Queen Victoria directed the course of 19th-century England.
c. “And [the film star] looks every inch the actor: painted, powdered, affected, vain, insecure, unreal, quite frightening, grotesque.”
– Dundan Fallowell, European Travel and Life, Sept. 1990
d. “Our priorities run to safety over style, value over flash, comfort over speed.” – Caroline Miller, Lear, April 1993
e. “She was attentive, friendly, even casual – not really different from her demeanor at any other meeting, though her mind must have been racing.”
– Gregory Curtis, Time, Jan. 8, 2001
A and B and C S V.
S V A or B or C.
the deliberate use of many conjunctions for special emphasis
creates a flowing, continuous sentence
highlights quantity or mass of detail
may slow down the pace of a work
a. Peering down from the hill, Merlin could see the castle swathed in gloom and fear and death.
b. Despite his handicaps, I have never seen Frank angry or cross or depressed.
c. Collies and geese and children tumbled out of the farmhouses in Alsace Lorraine, barking or hissing or shouting according to their unique French natures.
Time draweth wrinkles in a fair face
but addeth fresh colors to a fast friend,
which neither heat nor cold nor misery
nor place nor destiny can alter or
~Eng. Renaissance poet, wit, and playwright John Lyly [1554-1606]
This series of an even number of balanced pairs joined by a coordinating conjunction creates a balanced rhythm.
(The even number of items may be in any slot in the sentence.)
A and B, C and D, E and F S V .
a. The actual herbs in special vinegars – thyme and basil, rosemary and garlic, hot pepper and chive – float in beautifully designed bottles.
b. Eager yet fearful, confident but somewhat suspicious, Joe eyed the barber who would give him his first haircut.
c. The story of Spain is a history of kings and poets, saints and conquistadores, emperors and revolutionaries, Cervantes and Picasso, Franco and Juan Carlos, the Alhambra and the Escorial.
APP, APP, APP – summary word SV.
Sample summary words = such, all, those, this, many, each, which, what, these, something, someone
Bull riding, camel racing, bronco riding, and roping – these events mean “rodeo” to many people; they mean money to the cowboy.
S—appositive, appositive, appositive—V.
S—modifier, modifier, modifier—V.
You may use parentheses, but
(a) a pair of dashes makes the appositive dramatic,
(b) parentheses will make it almost whisper, and
(c) commas are ordinary.
S — appositive — V.
S, appositive, V.
a. A sudden explosion – artillery fire – signaled the deadly assault.
b. A familiar smell – fresh blood – assailed his jungle-trained nostrils.
c. My current plan, to change my major from marketing to civil engineering, is on hold for the moment.
d. A popular theory among climatologists (the greenhouse effect) suggests how the earth’s changing temperature threatens humanity.
e. The new slogan – “See Texas First” – promotes tourism.
f. The first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, is a man whom the world will never forget.
a. When he smelled the pungent odor of pine, when he heard the chatter of jays interrupting the silence, when he saw the startled doe, the hunter knew he had reached the center of the forest.
b. Whether one needs fantasy or whether one needs stark realism, the theater can become a mirror of life.
c. Frieda was convinced that her point of view was the right one, that she was entitled to act on it, and that ultimately her parents would approve.
Repetition of a key term
in a modifying phrase
repeated key term
S V key termjoined by in a phrase –
a dash or a comma not in anindependent clause
a. We all inhabit a mysterious world – the inner world, the world of the mind.
b. Neither the warning in the tarot cards – an ominous warning about the dangers of air flight – nor the one on her ouija board could deter Marsha from volunteering for the first Mars shot.
S V repeated key word in same position of the sentence.
a. His greatest discoveries, his greatest successes, his greatest influence upon the world’s daily life came to Edison only after repeated failure. (effective adjective)
b. The city itself sets the pace for Venetians – for their leisure, for their tasks, for their efforts, and for their hopes. (same preposition)
c. Government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. (object of different prepositions)
d. Audrey appeared really chic, really classic, really blasé. (adverb or intensifier)
e. Sam devoted his life to those selfish people, for their selfish cause, but clearly with his own selfish motives dominating his every action. (same modifying word in phrases that begin with different prepositions)
f. “It isn’t always others who enslave us. Sometimes we let circumstances enslave us; sometimes we let routine enslave us; sometimes we let things enslave us; sometimes, with weak will we enslave ourselves.” – Richard Evans’ Quote Book (same verb or alternative forms of same word)
S V word (or idea): the appositive (the second naming)
(with or without modifiers)
a. Atop the back of the lobster is a collection of trash: tiny starfish, moss, sea conchs, crabs, pieces of kelp.
b. Anyone left abandoned on a desert should avoid two dangers: cactus needles and rattlesnakes.
c. Airport thieves have a common target: unwary travelers.
Appositive (single or pair or series) after a dash or a colon
S V word – the appositive
(echoed idea or second naming)
A DASH almost always precedes a short, climactic appositive,
whereas a COLON generally precedes a longer appositive.
a. Adjusting to a new job requires one quality above all others – a sense of humor.
b. Many traditional philosophies echo the ideas of one man – Plato.
c. The grasping of seaweeds reveals the most resourceful part of the sea horse – its prehensile tail.
d. The Greeks’ defeat by Alexander could have been averted if they had listened to their most astute statesman: Demosthenes, the brilliant adviser of the Athenians.
The word stressed is a modifier rather than an appositive, as in pattern 10.
Choose the punctuation pairs to set it off
according to the type of emphasis you want to give the modifier.
1. A small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, can make millions think.
2. Rare meat, even though containing more natural juices than well-done meat, is chewier.
3. Mule deer (once common throughout North America) are now almost extinct.
4. Curanderos – often seen in many urban barrios and rural areas in the Southwest – combine herbs, massage, and prayer into a magical healing process.
5. Relaxation and informality are important parts of our fantasies about life in a tropical paradise; once you get accustomed to having twenty people waiting on you hand and foot (it doesn’t take very long), you no longer feel like a guest.