TWENTY SENTENCE PATTERNS
Adapted from Waddell, Esch & Walker
The Art of Styling Sentences (Barron’s, 1993)


1. Compound construction with semi-colon—to condense; to unify
    Talent is only one half of it; hard work is the other.

2. Compound construction with ellipsis*—to create rhythm or balance

    A red light means stop; a green light, go.

3. Compound construction with a colon—to create interest
    Dawkins’ God Delusion is educational: it teaches bad logic.

4. A series without a conjunction—to create smooth flow

    King Henry won loyalty with his courage, faith and humility.

5. A series of balanced pairs—to create rhythm
    He abandoned God and family, faith and honor, house and home.

6. Introductory series of appositives—to expand points succinctly

    Vanity, greed, revenge—which was the book’s main theme?

7. Internal series of appositives—to convey information quickly
    Some predators—lions, wolves, tigers—have been hunted

      almost to extinction.

8. Dependent clauses: paired or in series—to summarize main points
    “Whether you eat, or whether you drink, or whatever you do,

       do all to the glory of God.”  St. Paul (1 Cor. 10:31)

9. Repetition of key terms—to create emphasis or intensity
    “Never give in… never—in nothing great or small, large or petty—
      never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
      Winston Churchill

10. Appositive at end, after colon or dash—to build to a climax
     Students must conquer a two-headed monster—laziness and boredom.
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* omitting a repeated verb




11. Modifier between subject and verb—to add interest
     The tiniest dot—all you once were—marks the beginning of life.

12. Introductory or concluding participles—for variety
      Driven by greed, Scrooge almost lost his soul.

      Awaking to the light, the fugitive resumed his flight.

13. A single modifier out of place anywhere—for emphasis

      Occasionally, my parents will argue.       


14. Prepositional phrase before subject-verb—for emphasis

     “By their own follies they perished, the fools.” Homer

 

15. Object or complement before subject-verb—for emphasis
     “Famous and wealthy an English teacher will never be.”

 

16. Paired constructions—to make comparisons or contrasts

      “As slavery divided North and South, so did the Indian Wars

        divide the East and West.”

 

17. Dependent clause as subject, object or complement—for variety

     {How that could happen} is a complete mystery.  We couldn’t see
     {who it was}.  The result was {what he predicted].

18. Absolute construction**—to add interest and variety

      {God willing}, we will arrive tomorrow.  The students, {their minds

        disciplined}, persevered.  We are doing well, {all things considered}. 

 

19. A short sentence for effect—to summarize or provide transition

      Jesus wept.” (Jn. 11:35)  “I came, I saw, I conquered.” J. Caesar

20. Deliberate fragment—for dramatic effect

      But how?  Never!  Next stop—eternity!  What a price to pay!
      What a mistake!  Absolute power corrupting once more.

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** Noun or pronoun with a participle