300 Days of Better Writing

July 3, 2012

Move adverbial phrases to vary sentence structure.

Based on many previous tips, you know that using the Subject–Verb–Object sentence structure helps you write clearly. However, you don’t want all your sentences to “feel” the same to the reader. Readers need variety, or they will quickly become disinterested in your content.

One of the simplest ways to vary the sentence structure is by moving adverbial phrases. Where you move the phrases depends on your style. However, many can be moved to the beginning of the sentence, which also may help you keep the S–V–O structure intact. Consider this sentence:

“He walked in the afternoon to the store.”

The adverbial phrase is “in the afternoon.” This phrase describes when he walked. We can move this phrase as follows:

“In the afternoon, he walked to the store.”

This sentence now has a different sentence structure. It also keeps the S–V–O sentence structure intact and focuses on the main point.

This is the strategy for day 176 in 300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

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  1. I have a question: In how many ways can a writer vary his sentence structure?

    Comment by David Khoirul — July 3, 2012 @ 11:56 pm | Reply

  2. David: Good question! The answer is “many ways.”

    I have identified 8 sentence patterns that work very well for academic and technical writing. You can read about them here: http://preciseedit.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/8-sentence-patterns-for-academic-and-technical-writing/

    Comment by preciseedit — July 4, 2012 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

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