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The Walden University Writing Center Staff. Engaging Sentence Structure. Webinar Overview. In the following slides, we will cover Syntax Parts of a Sentence and Sentence Types Punctuation Sentence Variation Strategies 10 Tips for Sound (and Exciting!) Sentences.

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Presentation Transcript
webinar overview
Webinar Overview

In the following slides, we will cover

  • Syntax
  • Parts of a Sentence and Sentence Types
  • Punctuation
  • Sentence Variation Strategies
  • 10 Tips for Sound (and Exciting!) Sentences
understanding syntax
Syntax: the rules that govern sentence structure in any given language; the way words are put together to form a sentence

Mix it up!

Understanding Syntax
varying syntax
Varying Syntax

The subjects had 15 minutes to take the test. The subjects then had to seal the test in an envelope. The subjects did this to protect their anonymity. The subjects then handed the envelope to the moderator.

  • Pros
  • Clear, correct grammar
  • Specific description of subjects’ steps
  • Cons
  • Boring
  • Repetitive
  • Clunky
varying syntax1
Varying Syntax

The subjects had 15 minutes to take the test. Once completed, the subjects sealed their test in an envelope to protect their anonymity and then handed the envelope to the moderator.

It’s all about the variation:

Avoid several consecutive sentences that are about the same length and structured in the same way.

parts of a sentence
Parts of a Sentence

For a sentence to be complete, it must have a subject (what or whom the sentence is about) and a verb (an action, or what the subject does).

Jones wrote.

Jones = the subject Wrote = the verb

Most sentences also have a direct object (what receives the action).

Jones wrote an article.

an article = direct object

parts of a sentence1
Parts of a Sentence

In academic writing, we also often have a modifier (a clause that modifies a noun or a verb).

Because of a gap in the literature, Jones (2010) wrote an article.

We might also add an appositive (a clause that defines a noun).

Jones (2010), the famed social scientist, wrote an article.

Finally, sentences often have prepositions (clauses that indicate the relationship of a noun or pronoun).

Jones (2010) wrote an article about Mexican culture.

parts of a sentence2
Dependent clause: a group of words that contains a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought (not a full sentence).

Common dependent clause markers: after, although, as, as if, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order to, since, though, unless, until, whatever, when, whenever, whether, and while.

Although Jones was a brilliant scientist

Independent clause: a group of words that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought (can stand alone as a complete sentence).

Jones did not consider his own biases when conducting the study.

Parts of a Sentence
sentence types
Sentence Types

Simple Sentence

  • An independent clause with no conjunction or dependent clause

Jones was a brilliant scientist.

Compound Sentence

  • Two independent clauses joined by a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).

Jones was a brilliant scientist, but he did not consider his own biases when conducting the study.

sentence types1
Sentence Types

Complex Sentence

  • One independent clause and at least one dependent clause. Combine them with subordinators referring to the subject (who, which), the sequence/time (since, while), or the causal elements (because, if) of the independent clause.

Although Jones was a brilliant scientist, he did not consider his own biases when conducting the study.

Compound-Complex Sentence

  • Multiple independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.

Although Jones was a brilliant scientist, he did not consider his own biases when conducting the study, and this oversight showed in his skewed results.

punctuation
Punctuation
  • In order to make all the parts of sentences work correctly, you need punctuation.
  • You also often need punctuation to join clauses.
    • Commas
    • Semicolons
    • Colons
punctuation1
Punctuation

According to APA (2010), use a comma “between elements (including before and and or) in a series of three or more items” (p. 88).

In the forest, there are lions, tigers, and bears.

You can make the pie with apples, pears,or bananas.

At practice today, the players will work on catching the ball, shooting with accuracy, and defending set plays.

punctuation2
Punctuation

Also use commas to

  • set off nonessential information

Jamie has a date with John, who is the nicest guy she has ever met, and she wants to make him dinner.

  • link two independent clauses with a conjunction

Jamie went to the grocery store, and she bought dinner.

  • set off an introductory phrase

When Jamie went to the grocery store, she bought dinner.

  • separate nonessential clauses at the end of a sentence

Jamie went to the grocery store, which was three blocks away.

punctuation3
Punctuation

Use semicolons to

  • separate two independent clauses

Jamie went to the grocery store; she bought dinner.

  • separate two independent clauses with a sentence modifier

Jamie went to the store; however, she forgot to buy candles.

  • separate elements in a series that already contain commas

Jamie went to the store to buy lettuce, tomatoes, and croutons for a salad; pasta, chicken, and sauce for an entrée; and ice cream and brownies for dessert.

punctuation4
Punctuation

Use colons to

  • Introduce a list at the end of an independent clause

Jamie had everything she needed to make the perfect dinner: a salad, an entrée, and a dessert.

  • Introduce an illustrative or amplifying phrase or clause at the end of an independent clause

Jamie knew there were just two things she needed to complete her meal: candlelight and romantic music.

Do not use a colon immediately after a verb

Jamie went to the store to get: a salad, an entrée, and a dessert.

now what
Now What?

Build a successful paragraph with this knowledge.

Mix it up!

putting the sentences together
Putting the Sentences Together

Varying Sentence Length

The company reported that profit growth stabilized in 2009, though it had steadily increased by more than 7% since 1989. (20) In 2010, the year the company launched the OWN project, profit growth decreased from the previous year. (17) This announcement stunned Wall Street analysts. (6) According to Smith, however, this decrease is indicative of a trend across profit growth worldwide; it also supports future predictions for the industry. (23)

putting the sentences together1
Putting the Sentences Together

Varying Sentence Type and Syntax

Although Jones was a brilliant scientist, he did not consider his own biases when conducting the study. (complex) This oversight showed in his skewed results. (simple w/ prep phrase) When he analyzed the findings, Jones determined that the fifth graders needed more mathematics and less art instruction. (complex) Being a math teacher caused him to favor that subject. (simple) Therefore, the study is not valid, and I cannot use it to support my own research. (compound w/ trans. word)

ten tips for sound sentences
1. Avoid wordiness

2. Avoid redundancy

3. Use pronouns sparingly

4. Employ transitional words and phrases

5. Use the active voice

6. Be consistent with point of view

7. Avoid casual language

8. Avoid unnecessary adverbs (very, really)

Use economy of expression

10. Avoid circumlocution

Ten Tips for Sound Sentences
1 avoid wordiness
1. Avoid Wordiness

Sometimes the best means of expression is also the simplest.

Instead of ThisUse This

Based on the fact that Because

At the present time Now

For the purpose of For or To

There were several Several people stated

people who stated

* These and the following suggestions adapted from the APA manual.

2 avoid redundancy
2. Avoid Redundancy

Instead of ThisUse This

They were both alike They were alike

One and the same The same

A total of 68 participants 68 participants

In close proximity In proximity

Four different groups Four groups

Has been previously found Has been found

Summarize briefly Summarize

3 use pronouns sparingly
3. Use Pronouns Sparingly

While pronouns are useful to help writers avoid repetition, pronouns should be used sparingly to keep the meaning of the sentence clear.

  • An example of an unclear pronoun:

When Jeff and Brian joined the team members, they were scared.

  • An example of pronoun overload:

Effective teachers create plans for their lessons while they teach them so that students can benefit from them and develop their minds.

4 employ transitions
4. Employ Transitions

Use transitions to guide the reader from one sentence to the next.

  • Time: then, next, after, while, since
  • Cause-effect: therefore, consequently, as a result
  • Addition: in addition, moreover, furthermore, similarly
  • Contrast: but, conversely, nevertheless, however, although
5 use the active voice
The active voice means the subject of the sentence performs the action that the verb expresses.

On the other hand, using the passive voice puts the emphasis on the object. Too much of the passive voice can weaken your scholarly voice.

Why?

There is no set subject or “doer” of the action in passive voice, leading to ambiguity.

5. Use the Active Voice
5 use the active voice1
Write lively, active sentences where the subject initiates an action that affects the direct object. In other words, put the subject of the sentence at the beginning, immediately followed by an action verb.

Passive Voice: The apple was eaten.

Active Voice: Snow White ate the apple.

Passive Voice: The survey was conducted after school.

Active Voice: The researchers conducted the survey after school.

5. Use the Active Voice
6 be consistent with point of view
6. Be Consistent With Point of View

“To avoid ambiguity, use a personal pronoun rather than the third person when describing steps taken in your experiment” (APA, 2010, p. 69).

Therefore, instead of This researcher or This author, use I

First Person

I completed a meta-analysis of infectious disease trends in Thailand. I found…

Third Person

The researchers discussed the outcomes of their study…

First Person Plural

(used only for yourself & coauthor[s] of a paper)

We concluded that …

Do not use the second person “you.”

7 avoid casual language
7. Avoid Casual Language

Clichés and colloquialisms cannot be universally translated and might confuse some readers.

Be straightforward.

Instead of ThisUse This

The doors were closed to advancement There was no way to advance

In light of recent research Based on recent research

It was a slippery slope to failure Failure occurred easily

The researchers were getting results The researchers collected results

My journey through the literature has led to Based on the articles I read

8 avoid unnecessary adverbs
8. Avoid Unnecessary Adverbs

Adverbs like very and really often give a sentence an informal, embellished tone.

Instead of This Use This

The research was very thorough The research was thorough

The participants were really responsive The participants were responsive

9 use economy of expression
According to APA (2001), “The author who is frugal with words not only writes a more readable manuscript but also increases the chances that the manuscript will be accepted for publication…You can tighten long papers by eliminating redundancy, wordiness, jargon, evasiveness, overuse of the passive voice, circumlocution, and clumsy prose.”

In other words, write in clear, concise statements and aim for logical communication: the simpler the better.

9. Use Economy of Expression
10 avoid circumlocution
Circumlocution is a roundabout way of saying what you want to say (using several words to say something simple).

Instead of This

The participants in the study were six young people who have completed 3 years of elementary education and are not living in an urban area.

Use This

The study included 6 fourth grade students from a rural elementary school.

10. Avoid Circumlocution
other resources
Other Resources
  • Writing Center: http://writingcenter.waldenu.edu/
  • Library: http://library.waldenu.edu/
  • Residencies: http://residencies.waldenu.edu/
  • Grammarly: http://www.grammarly.com/edu/students/
  • Writing Center Blog: http://waldenwritingcenter.blogspot.com/
slide32

Questions?You can email us anytime!For questions about course papers: writingsupport@waldenu.eduFor questions about dissertations and doctoral studies: editor@waldenu.edu