Sentence Variety The Basics

Sentence Variety
The Basics
What is it?
Good writing offers the reader a
mixture of sentence types and
sentence constructions.
This is called sentence variety.
How do you do it?
First, you need to be sure that you
can identify the basic sentence
types (and some of the errors that
often accompany these sentence
Type 1:
This kind of sentence has only one
subject and one verb.
The formal name of this sentence
A simple sentence- I did my homework last night.
has one subject.
has one verb.
There may (or may not) be other decoration
in the sentence: objects, adjectives,
adverbs, prepositional phrases, etc.
There can not be a subordinating
conjunction in a simple sentence (after,
when, although, etc.).
If you are missing the subject or if you
are missing the verb, you have a
Fragments are common errors,
especially in early drafts, because your
brain is going faster than your hand.
Examples of fragments:
Wrote the sentence.
Listening to the ocean.
When I got there.
Because she wants to.
Learn to proofread your paper for
Type 2:
A Compound Sentence - is made of two independent clauses (it
has two subjects and two verbs).
 must always have a coordinating
conjunction in the middle.
 must always have a comma before
the coordinating conjunction.
Coordinating Conjunctions
An easy way to remember these is
FANBOYS (handout coming later):
F : for
A: and
N: nor
B: but
O: or
Y: yet
S: so
 She only wrote one draft, yet she
got an A.
He’s allergic to dogs, but he
bought the puppy anyway.
If you forget the coordinating
conjunction, you have a comma splice.
OK: In The Jacket, Soto uses
metaphors, and he uses similes.
NOT OK (comma splice): In The Jacket,
Soto uses metaphors, he uses similes.
Type 3:
A Complex Sentence
 has two subjects and two verbs.
must have a subordinating conjunction.
is similar to a compound sentence in
that is has two clauses. However, one is
a dependent clause and one is an
independent clause.
Subordinating Conjunctions?
You know these… words like:
 When
 While
 Before
 After
 As soon as
 If
 Although
 Since
 Where
 As long as
 As
 As long as
 So that
 In order to
 As if
 Now that
 Though
 Unless
 Until
 Whenever
For example:
 When I got to the classroom, I
realized the students had left.
We went to the computer lab after
we had met in the classroom.
If you proofread your paper, you
will probably get a better grade.
When do I use the
If your subordinating conjunction
begins the sentence, use the
comma between clauses.
(… notice the comma in that
Why isn’t this a comma splice?
Don’t use the comma if the
subordinating conjunction comes
in the middle.
Another type of
If you use the dependent clause without
the independent clause, you have a
different kind of fragment.
You saw some of these earlier. We
speak like this all the time, but you
can’t write it!
If Helene had fallen in love with him,
Because description helps the reader
see what the writer is saying.
Although she didn’t buy him the leather
One more error…
… is the run-on sentence (our book
calls this a fused sentence).
A run-on sentence has too many
clauses together.
For example:
 He asked for the jacket she
bought him the jacket but he
didn’t like it.
It was on a Thursday I was sitting
in the back of the room, in a seat
with a chalk circle drawn around it.
Back to sentence variety!
 When you write your paper, you want
a mixture of simple, compound and
complex sentences.
One sentence type alone becomes
tedious and uninteresting for a reader.
Your job as a writer is to try to use all
three types - and to learn how to
correct these common mistakes!