One way to improve writing is to use a variety of sentence structures.

    A SIMPLE SENTENCE is one independent or main clause that makes sense.

    A COMPOUND SENTENCE is two or more independent clauses linked with coordinating conjunctions.

      Allison did all the work, but her teammates took all the credit.

    A COMPLEX SENTENCE is one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses linked with subordinating conjunctions.

      Jeff finished his homework, while watching the game.

    A COMPOUND-COMPLEX SENTENCE consists of two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses linked with subordinating and coordinating conjunctions.

      Whatever you say will be forgotten, and you will be forgotten before you know what has happened.

    An APPOSITIVE is a phrase positioned next to a word (usually a noun) that supplies details about the word.

      Scout, Jem"s younger sister, wanted to get into the action.

    A PARTICIPIAL PHRASE is a group of words beginning with a present or past participle that modifies a noun.

      Outsmarting our opponents, our team won.

    A RELATIVE CLAUSE is a group of words with a subject and verb beginning with a relative pronoun; the entire clause modifies a noun or pronoun in the main clause.

      Atticus Finch, who was their father, was also the town"s only lawyer.

    EXPANDERS are adjectives, adverbs, and structures which function as adjectives and adverbs that may be added without changing basic structure.

      The elderly gardener picked a miniature rose after breakfast.

    PARALLELISM is a repetition of structure for effect. Single parts of speech, phrases, or clauses may be repeated.

    • He was the kind of man who knew what he wanted, who intended to get it, and who allowed nothing to stand in his way. (relative clauses)
    • He wanted to walk out, to get in his car and drive forever, to leave and never come back. (infinitives)
    • They went to London, to Paris, to Rome. (prepositional phrases)
    • He wanted a warm place to sleep, good food, and someone to love. (noun clauses)
    • If we are to survive, if we are to have even the hope of surviving, we must end nuclear proliferation. (subordinate clauses)
    • She walked steadily, swiftly, and purposefully. (adverbs)
    • She likes ball games, concerts, and picnics. (nouns)

    A Guide to Communication:The Grosse Pointe Public Schools Style Sheet
    © The Grosse Pointe Public School System, 2000