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Sentence Fluency. The Art of Not Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth. Syntax. Have you ever gotten your tongue tied, or mispronounced a word? The writing equivalent of “talking all over yourself” is a syntax error.

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Sentence Fluency


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sentence fluency

Sentence Fluency

The Art of Not Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth

syntax
Syntax
  • Have you ever gotten your tongue tied, or mispronounced a word?
  • The writing equivalent of “talking all over yourself” is a syntax error.
  • Sentences with syntax errors often sound too long, too short, or most often just overcomplicated.
  • Syntax error sentences can also be unclear, leading to unintentional double meanings.
how to avoid syntax errors
How to Avoid Syntax Errors
  • While Syntax errors are typically a Conventions issue, they certainly apply to Sentence Fluency (or the flow of your paper), because they cause the reader to become interrupted.
  • Avoiding syntax errors is easy, if you know how. Namely:
    • Read over your work (it helps if you read it aloud)
    • Have a peer or parent read over your work.
improving fluency
Improving Fluency
  • By now we’ve talked about Sentence Types. Using a variety of sentence types in any writing can really boost the flow of a sentence.
  • Let’s look at some examples
simple sentence marathon
Simple Sentence Marathon
  • Joe went to the mall. Joe bought some sunglasses. He went to the food court. Joe ordered some food from Hardees. Joe met up with some friends. They went to a movie.
  • This paragraph is boring, not because of the content, but because every sentence is a simple sentence.
better but not really
Better…But Not Really
  • Joe went to the mall, and bought some sunglasses. He went to the food court, and Joe ordered some food from Hardees. Joe met up with some friends, and they went to a movie.
  • Even though we’re using better sentences, the flow isn’t too much better. There’s less stopping and starting, but it still sounds dull.
throw in some complexity
Throw in Some Complexity
  • Since he was bored, Joe went to the mall. Although he already had some, Joe bought some sunglasses. He went to the food court when he felt hungry. Despite being on a diet, Joe ordered some food from Hardees. After he ate, Joe met up with some friends. They went to a movie, because they were bored.
  • Adding phrases creates a big improvement, but now it sounds forced.
mix it up
Mix it Up
  • Since he was bored, Joe went to the mall. Joe bought some sunglasses, and then he went to the food court. Despite being on a diet, Joe ordered some food from Hardees. Joe met up with some friends, and since they were bored, went to a movie.
  • Even though this is the exact same information, the variety of sentence types creates a smooth flow which sounds more pleasing.
peer edit round 1
Peer Edit, Round 1
  • You’ve already edited you paper based on Organization, Ideas, Conventions, and Word Choice.
  • Today, choose a peer whom you trust to read and edit your paper.
  • Exchange papers and read the paper looking only for Sentence Fluency errors (or improvement possibilities). Mark SF above the error.
next step
Next Step
  • Now comb through the paper to spot any other errors. When encountering errors mark:
    • O for organization
    • I for ideas
    • C for conventions
    • WC for word choice

Take about ten minutes to read through the paper and make your marks.

now grade
Now Grade
  • Take the scoring guide from your assignment and give a grade out of 60 on the paper. Be as honest as possible; remember that you are not giving a final grade.
  • Once you have both graded, take five minutes each to discuss. Explain why you gave the grade you did, and make suggestions for improvement.
before we finish
Before We Finish
  • Remember that we have another day of editing before we write our final drafts.
  • For those who have difficulty sitting down and working in class, or for those who can get confused with writing it is a good idea to make corrections at home, and be prepared for tomorrow with a new draft.