Thinking to Write Lesson W4: Controlling Your Sentence Structures

Watch this video on controlling your sentence structures:


Notes on Controlling Sentence Structures

Beyond avoiding too many short and/or long sentences, a writer can control the style (including voice and tone) through conscious selection of a particular pattern of sentence structures. So, for example, it is good to be aware of some basic, grammatically correct, options for combining clauses.

  • Coordinate two independent clauses together with acoordinating conjunction and a comma.
      • John ran home, and he arrived just in time for supper.
      • Video games have reshaped the nature of childhood play, so they have also reshaped the nature of adult interactions.
      • An avatar may be a projection of one’s identity, but it is also an identity imposed upon by the design possibilities of that avatar.
  • Coordinating Conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
    • Coordinate two independent clauses together with a semicolon.
      • John ran home; he arrived just in time for supper.
      • Video games have reshaped the nature of childhood play; they have also reshaped the nature of adult interactions.
      • An avatar may be a projection of one’s identity it is also an identity imposed upon by the design possibilities of that avatar.
    • Coordinate two independent clauses together with a semicolon, a transitional word, and a comma.
      • John ran home; therefore, he arrived just in time for supper.
      • Video games have reshaped the nature of childhood play; moreover,they have also reshaped the nature of adult interactions.
      • An avatar may be a projection of one’s identity; however, it is also an identity imposed upon by the design possibilities of that avatar.
  • Some Transitional Words: moreover, besides, further, furthermore, likewise, also, too, again, in addition, even more important, next, first, second, third, in the first place, in the second place, finally, last; similarly, likewise, in like manner; however, still, nevertheless, on the other hand, on the contrary, conversely, even so, notwithstanding, in contrast, at the same time, although this may be true, otherwise, nonetheless; here, beyond, nearby, opposite to, adjacent to, on the opposite side; to this end, for this purpose, with this object; therefore, accordingly, consequently, thus, thereupon, as a result, then, because, hence; to sum up, in brief, on the whole, in sum, in short; as I have said, in other words, that is, to be sure, as has been noted; for example, for instance, in any event; in fact, indeed, to tell the truth; meanwhile, at length, soon, after a few days, in the meantime, afterward, later, now, then, in the past, while
  • Subordinate one independent clause into a dependent clause, placing it first in the sentence and adding an independent clause to the second half; place a comma between them.
      • Because John ran home, he arrived just in time for supper.
      • While video games have reshaped the nature of childhood playthey have also reshaped the nature of adult interactions.
      • Even though an avatar may be a projection of one’s identity, it is also an identity imposed upon by the design possibilities of that avatar.
  • Some Subordinating Conjunctions: after, although, as (far/soon) as, as if, as though, because, before, even if, even though, how, if, in case, in that, inasmuch as, insofar as, lest, no matter how, now that, once, provided that, since, so that, supposing that, than, though, till, unless, until, when, whenever, where, wherever, whether, while, why.
  • Subordinate the second clause, keeping the first clause independent.
      • John arrived just in time for supper because he ran home.
      • Video games have reshaped the nature of childhood play while they have also reshaped the nature of adult interactions.
      • An avatar may be a projection of one’s identity even though it is also an identity imposed upon by the design possibilities of that avatar.
  • A note about prepositional phrases: these always start with a preposition; when they are at the beginning of a sentence, there should be a comma immediately following, before the sentence continues
  • SEE ALSO: Sentence Structure (Purdue OWL)