Many people have the natural ability to construct sentences, but only a few of us understand the basic techniques of proper sentence construction.
Good sentences are the building blocks for compelling and value-driven content.
In fact, a well-constructed sentence is the content creator's secret weapon for conveying ideas clearly and efficiently. If you are looking to improve your writing skills and the overall impact of your piece, you should strive to understand the basic and advanced components of sentence construction.
In this post, we will explain everything you need to know about writing a sentence, including the construction elements, qualities, and tips to help you with writing better sentences.
What is a Sentence?
At its core, a sentence is a series of words used to convey a complete thought.
What constitutes a sentence is flexible, and although there are several grammar rules that you must follow, most of these rules have exceptions. For now, it is important to remember that most sentences require the presence of a subject and a verb.
There are four main types of sentences:
1. Declarative (Statement)
A declarative sentence makes a statement or expresses an opinion - a declaration. This type of sentence ends with a period.
- A statement or declaration - I want to be a remarkable marketer.
- An opinion - My co-worker is a talented marketer.
2. Interrogative (Question)
An interrogative sentence asks a question and often begins with who, what, where, why, how, or do.
- Who is the most efficient writer on your team?
- How are you going to propose to your girlfriend?
3. Imperative (Command)
An imperative sentence communicates to another person a command or request. This sentence generally ends with a period, but you can use an exclamation point under certain situations.
- Please clean your table after eating.
- You must clean your table after eating.
- Kindly sit down.
- I need you to sit down now!
4. Exclamatory (Exclamation)
This modified form of a declarative sentence expresses a strong emotion such as happiness, anger, excitement, or surprise. An exclamatory sentence ends with an exclamation point.
- It's a girl!
- That is a huge truck!
- I am angry so don't talk to me!
Elements of Sentence Construction
When talking about sentence structure, we refer to the several elements of a word string and how they're organized to achieve the desired effect of the writer. Below is an overview of the structures and key elements of sentence construction.
Clauses (Independent and Subordinate)
The most significant element of sentence construction is the clause - i.e., a collection of words that contain a subject and a verb and can either be independent and subordinate.
An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence since it contains a subject and a verb and presents a complete message.
- I like burgers.
- Ana reads many books.
On the other hand, a subordinate clause (i.e., a dependent clause) isn't a complete sentence and is missing either a subject or verb. Sometimes, it has both the subject or verb but is still grammatically dependent. Either way, subordinate clauses need to be joined with an independent clause.
Subordinate clauses use special connecting words or phrases called subordinating conjunctions.
Examples of subordinating conjunctions include while, because, although, and unless. Subordinating conjunctions can also be certain prepositions like before, after, until, and despite. See our guide on types of conjunctions for a more in-depth explanation.
- Even though I like burgers...
- Because Ana reads many books...
A simple sentence has a subject and a verb, and it may also contain an object and a modifier. However, it only features one independent clause. Keep in mind that simple sentences may have two subjects or two verbs but not two of each.
- He swam.
- She completed her final exams.
Complex sentences contain at least one subordinate clause and at least one independent clause. The two clauses are connected by a subordinating conjunction.
If a complex word string starts with a dependent clause, a comma is used to separate the clauses. On the other hand, if it begins with an independent clause, commas aren't necessary.
- Although Ana completed her task, she still needs to come back tomorrow.
- They stayed for the night since it's raining hard.
Compound sentences have at least two independent clauses that are connected by either a comma, semicolon, or coordinating conjunction (i.e., for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). Structurally, it's just two simple sentences joined together.
- He drove to the store, but the store was closed.
- He drove to the store; the store was closed.
Last but not least is the compound-complex sentence. These types of sentences have at least two independent clauses and at least one subordinate clause. Basically, it's a compound sentence that includes one or more complex sentences.
- Kay doesn't like horror movies because they are scary, so she doesn't watch them.
- Maria forgot her friend's birthday, so she gave her a call when she finally remembered.
What Makes a Good Sentence?
Now, let's take a look at some of the qualities of a good sentence.
- It's a complete thought - A sentence should express a complete idea to the reader and must use a subject and a verb. A good string of words can stand on its own and conveys a clear sense or meaning to the reader.
- It stimulates emotions - A good string of words can draw out emotions and stimulate the imagination. This ability to invoke an emotional response is especially important when looking to convert online visitors or blog readers into customers.
- It avoids fluff - Fluff in writing means your sentences are wordy, fragmented, and hard to read. Good writing should be clear, straightforward, and devoid of any fluff.
- It has flow - If a reader has to go back to re-read your piece to understand the message you are trying to convey, it means your sentences lack flow. Without effective flow, your writing will be choppy and hard to understand.
4 Tips For Writing Great Sentences
Below are surefire tips and techniques that you can use to write great sentences, improve your writing style, and become better at writing in general.
- Keep it simple - Keeping your sentences short and simple is a rule of thumb for creating compelling pieces. Writing overly complex words doesn't necessarily make you look smart or sophisticated. Master your syntax and avoid fluff to keep your content writing digestible and easy to read.
- Pay attention to grammar - Great sentences are without sentence fragments, spelling mistakes, incorrect tenses, and other grammar gaffes. Good grammar gives your sentences a more polished feel.
- Eliminate passive voice - The primary reason English language writers should avoid passive voice is that they tend to be wordier and difficult to follow. The use of the active voice in writing will help keep things clear and straightforward.
- Construct complete thoughts - It might seem a no-brainer, but it's not unheard of for writers to unwittingly publish incomplete sentences. Make sure that each of your sentences can make sense on its own without additional details or information.
My best advice is to use AI-powered writing assistant tools to help improve your sentence construction. These tools can provide suggestions that can eliminate writing issues like spelling mistakes, grammar errors, clarity, passive voice, punctuation, logic, and more.
Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More
Writing great sentences takes time and work.
At first, it might feel stiff and mechanical, but that's okay! Eventually, you'll get to a point where you master the elements we covered in this piece. Remember, the point is to write in a way that feels natural.
When writing, focus on your structure and how you phrase your ideas, and be mindful of your mistakes to avoid developing bad punctuation habits.