Image default

Crafting Nice Sentences

We will take the good complexity of sentences without any consideration. Every sentence written within the classroom is a distillation of a near-infinite variety of advanced strikes.

For pupils, practising one sentence brilliantly could also be value 100 sentences written in haste.

Too usually, within the classroom, sentences are modelled, however pupils don’t have a powerful idea of distinction sentence stage strikes, their capabilities, and learn how to manipulate them. As a substitute of tackling numerous totally different genres and endeavor numerous error strewn ‘huge writes’, we ought to be express in intentionally practising crafting nice sentences.

When pupils are supported to over-learn sentence crafting, they’ll start to grasp how sentences are constructed in another way in tales in comparison with scientific writing, from historical past essays to artwork evaluations. By honing the 4 key sentence variation methods, pupils have the instruments to grasp writing in any topic or style.

Sentence variation methods

There are 4 key sentence variation methods that pupils can explicitly apply. They are often carefully associated, however they’re seemingly finest practised in isolation, with scaffolds, underneath pupils are assured in that writing transfer.

1. Sentence combining

Sentence combining has been proven to be very useful for struggling writers. At its easiest, it fashions the creation of extra advanced sentences. As an illustration, ‘The boy was hungry. He ate pizza’ turns into ‘The hungry boy ate pizza.

For youthful pupils, sentence combining begins their journey to writing nice tales, in addition to developing extra mature arguments. For secondary college pupils, sentence combining turns into a way to practise refined tutorial writing.

For instance, in geography, a bullet level listing might be mixed into a posh, single sentence:

  • ‘The Earth’s crust is the lightest rock layer.
  • It’s skinny in comparison with different layers.
  • Round 5km to 70 km thick.’

The listing turns into:

‘The Earth’s crust is the lightest, thinnest rock layer, at round 5km to 70km thick.’

In historical past, you possibly can mix disembodied information to convey extra refined and linked claims:

  • ‘Wilberforce helped speed up the tip of slavery
  • He gave inspirational speeches on slavery in parliament
  • He helped create the ‘Proclamation Society’.’

The listing turns into a richer tutorial sentence that transforms information into efficient historic claims:

‘Wilberforce helped speed up the tip of slavey with repeated inspirational speeches in parliament, while the Proclamation Society he helped to create, shared these ethical messages extra broadly.’

[Read this excellent guide to sentence combining by AERO HERE]

2. Sentence shrinking

Nice sentences are lengthy and complex, proper? An important false impression held by pupils is that larger is all the time higher in terms of sentences within the classroom.

Certainly, we are able to encourage pupils to trim their bloated ‘purple prose’ with a little bit of sentence shrinking too. As an illustration, ‘The rugged, weather-beaten adolescent boy gazed with starvation and adoration on the luxurious banquet’, turns into ‘The rugged teen gazed hungrily on the banquet.’ A sentence desperately aiming to impress turns into purposeful and clear.

Such compression of language is sweet for taking part in with writing types for various functions, however it is usually nice for modelling efficient note-taking.

As an illustration, this definition of cracking is from the BBC Bitesize web site:

“Cracking is a response by which bigger hydrocarbon molecules are damaged down into smaller, extra helpful hydrocarbon molecules, a few of that are unsaturated: the unique beginning hydrocarbons are alkanes. the merchandise of cracking embrace alkanes and alkenes, members of a distinct homologous sequence.”

You may efficiently shrink it to the abstract sentence:

‘Cracking: conversion of alkanes into smaller and extra priceless hydrocarbons (reminiscent of alkanes and alkenes) by means of the breaking down of bigger hydrocarbon molecules.’

On the excessive, you possibly can summarise Hamlet as ‘a tragedy of revenge and existential angst’. Pupils want to grasp when to shrink and when to increase a sentence.

[Read this brilliant article on writing short sentences HERE.]

3. Sentence increasing

Sentence increasing might show the commonest sentence stage transfer within the classroom. We might want extra proof in historical past, extra description in a meals science, extra imagery in English.  

Dealt with with care, numerous modelled sentence increasing might be the important thing to creating pupils pondering in tutorial language. As an illustration, in artwork, we might need to get pupils to point out off their information of an excellent painter. ‘Leonardo da Vinci was an excellent painter’ turns into ‘Leonardo da Vinci was an excellent painter who famously painted the enigmatic Mona Lisa.’ Displaying information might complement exhibiting just a little extra model too.  

We will scaffold increasing sentences for younger pupils by beginning with a easy sentence:

  • He was a monster.
  • [Adjective addition] He was a mild / miniature / raging monster.
  • [Add a clause for what he can see] He was a delicate monster, nervously peering out of his cave.
  • [Add a clause for his next movement] He was a delicate monster, nervously peering out of his cave, earlier than he went to cover underneath his blanket.

Equally, a easy sentence might be expanded with a deal with including in particulars for ‘Who? What? When? The place? Why?

We will mannequin sentence increasing to discover proof for some extent in non secular schooling:

  • ‘Christians consider the afterlife consists of…’

Or in enterprise research, it may deal with pupils activating their prior information:

  • ‘Three essential advantages of enterprise growth embrace: …’

You may start to increase sentences with particular grammar strikes, reminiscent of including an ‘appositive’ phrase (a brief phrase that provides additional description to a noun) e.g.

‘Henry VIII, [insert appositive], eliminated the highly effective presence of the Catholic Church.’

Relying in your interpretation, Henry could be a ‘infamous tyrant’, or ‘radical king’.

In science, sentence increasing can be utilized to problem misconceptions e.g.

‘Some folks consider deoxygenated blood is blue, though…’

‘Some folks suppose evaporation and boiling are the identical factor, nevertheless…’

Sentence growth, with an growing consciousness of the grammatical strikes at play, has an infinite quantity of capabilities within the classroom, from making correct definitions in geography, to crafting artistic sentences for tales in English.

[Read this short ThoughtCo. article on sentence expanding with some handy activities HERE]

4. Sentence signposting

Sentence signposting is as outdated as historic Greece. Aristotle, in his early texts on rhetoric and grammar, made clear the worth of connecting and clarifying the connection inside and between sentences.

Too usually, sentence signposting is diminished to itemizing FANBOYS (for, and, nor, however, or, but, so), or endlessly repeating a sentence construction formulation that begins to stunt pupils making the personal sentence stage strikes.  

Lecturers can organise and deploy focused signpost clusters with specificity by part and the subject material of the writing (successfully forming extra sentence expansions):

  • 12 months 5 pupils balanced argument on college uniforms: You may introduce your argument with the cluster, ‘First…in order that…consequently…’, whereas the basic counter- argument might be framed by the ‘In distinction…because of… nevertheless…’ cluster.
  • 12 months 7 design expertise new product transient: You may start with the cluster, ‘First…moreover…in order that…’ to introduce your product, adopted by a cluster to focus in on one particular component of the product improvement, reminiscent of ‘Resulting from…because of this…notably…’
  • 12 months 10 biology abstract of diffusion of cells: You may start with an introduction to diffusion of cells with the trigger and impact cluster, ‘First…in order that…consequently…’, adopted by exemplification of diffusion within the lungs with, ‘For instance…because of…consequently…’.

As pupils routinely construct arguments and comparable with signposts, less complicated signposts might be changed by extra refined expressions.

Rigorously deployed – with exemplification, modelling, sentence stem helps, and extra – these signposts can supply an comprehensible construction for our pupils to construct profitable sentences.

[Find the Talk for Writing’ connective/signpost phrase bank HERE]

Associated Studying:
  • Features of this weblog are tailored from my chapter on ‘Crafting Nice Sentences’ in my ‘Closing the Writing Hole’ e-book – see HERE and HERE.
  • The US e-book, ‘The Writing Revolution’, is rightly widespread with lecturers. Learn Tom Needham’s weblog on its most well-known technique ‘As a result of, However, SoHERE.
  • Christopher Youles has written a superb new e-book entitled ‘Sentence Fashions for Artistic Writing’ – HERE.