Sentences are more than a basic unit of thought: they are a signal of education, self regulation, and professionalism. Sentence errors undermine a professional prose style: Learn to distinguish independent clauses from dependent clauses and phrases. Develop your understanding of the tao of the sentence in order to avoid common errors: modification errors, comma splices, run-on sentences and sentence fragments.


Sentences are

Related Concepts: Edit for AWK(Awkward); Edit for Sentence Fragments; Edit for Parallelism; Edit for Run-On Sentences; Edit for Sentence Structure

Why Do Sentences Matter?

When you aim to communicate with someone other than yourself in semi-formal and formal circumstances, you are expected use complete sentences.

When you fail to use sentences in those circumstances, your readers are likely to assume that you have not adopted a professional tone, voice, or persona.

[ Professional Writing Prose Style ]

Sentence Errors

Sentence Mechanics

Sentences are started with a capital letter and then ended with end-mark punctuation–i.e., a period, exclamation, or question mark.

Sentence Parts

The sentence, aka independent clause, has two required and one optional parts:

sentence diagram, Writing Commons

[ Subjects, Verbs, & Objects | Parts of a Sentence ]

Sentence Patterns

Sentences conform to five different patterns:

  1. S-LV-SC
  2. S-TV-DO
  3. S-TV-IO-DO
  4. S-TV-DO-OC
  5. S-ITV

[ Sentence Patterns ]

Sentence Structure

Sentences can be structured in four ways:

1. Simple Sentence Structureone independent clause (IC). 
2. Compound Sentence Structuretwo independent clauses (IC IC) connected by a coordinating conjunction.
3. Complex Sentence Structureone independent clause and one or more dependent clauses (IC DC) or (IC DC DC).
4. Compound-Complex Sentence Structuretwo independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses (IC IC DC) or (IC DC IC) or (DC IC IC) etc.

Sentence Types

Sentences in Standard English are defined by aim (aka function):

Declarativedeclare something!
Imperativemake requests, give orders
Interrogativeask questions
Exclamatorygive emphasis and an excited tone!

Sentence Word Length

Sentences can range in word length. Generally speaking, the longer a sentence, the harder it is to interpret. At a minimum, a sentence is a single word with a subject implied. Two-word sentences are commonplace.

[ Flesch–Kincaid readability tests ]

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