Sentence Primer

Think back to elementary school and the lesson you learned that a sentence contains a subject and a verb. That was the rule, period.

Unfortunately, many writers haven’t added to their learning about sentences, as evidenced by the inappropriate ending punctuation and refusal to write verb-less sentences.

Here’s a sentence primer you may want to keep handy.

  • Declarative sentence. This is the traditional sentence structure we’re used to. It’s a simple assertion and expresses a complete thought. Correct ending punctuation is a period. Example: Sunday night is taco night at our house.
  • Exclamatory sentence. This is a sentence showing passion, violence, vehemence, forcefulness. As does the declarative sentence, the exclamatory sentence expresses a complete thought. Correct punctuation is an exclamation point. CAUTION: If overused (and it usually is), the exclamation point loses its impact and meaning. One exclamation point at the end of a sentence is appropriate!!!!! (As you can see.) Example: I’m so tired of high gas prices!
  • Imperative sentence. This sentence expresses (not asks) a simple request or command (depending on what the writer wants to relay). Correct ending punctuation is a period. Example: Take out the garbage.
  • Interrogative sentence. This sentence expresses a complete thought and asks for more information. Correct punctuation is a question mark. Example: Why can’t I go to the movie with Sherry?

Although this next example doesn’t fall into the four sentence categories listed above, it, too, is a type of sentence–the verb-less sentence. The verb-less sentence is a word or group of words that expresses a complete thought without the use of a verb. Examples: No. Yes. Nonsense!  No, not now, not ever! In the garage? Why?

Finally, make sure you don’t over-punctuate the end of the sentence. By that I mean when you have a sentence that ends with a period in an abbreviation, that period serves two purposes–to show the end of the abbreviation and to show the end of the sentence. A second period over-punctuates the sentence. Example: She liked the same entertainment  he did–movies, music, dancing, etc.

I trust if you haven’t already expanded your writing to include all the types of sentences in this primer, you’ll give them a try soon.

Happy writing!


13 Responses to “Sentence Primer”

  1. 1 annrichduncan March 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Hey. You’re informative. Like, wow.
    I’m an author, looking at blogs because I was recently told by an agent that she wants to work with me. My first “assignment” is to create a blog. While developing a WordPress blog I saw that your blog is listed as one of the fastest growing blogs. Congrats.

    • 2 expertbookpublishing March 8, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      I had no idea I had one of the fastest growing blogs. I am humbled and thank you for sharing that with me.

      We love publishing books, and I think the more I can do to help authors write better, the better the publishing process is for everyone involved. I’m so pleased people like what I offer.

      You are fortunate to find an agent in this tough publishing climate. Establishing a following through a blog is an excellent first step. I have to thank my web maven for encouraging me to write the blog. I kept putting it off. Don’t wait. Just make sure your blog reflects the image you want to create about yourself as an author.

      Again, thanks for the comment!

  2. 3 ecreith March 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I was browsing the main wordpress page when I saw your blog. I love this post. I’ll be checking back regularly.

    In the Scriptorium I do some of the same stuff you’re doing here, although, of course, none of us is going to get to all of it.

    Elizabeth Creith

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    I appreciate your posts that remind us of proper writing habits. Blessings…

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