The Grammar Doctor


Ninety percent of the sentences in the English language follow the same pattern: subject, verb, direct object. This pattern repeated over and over eventually can become monotonous. One way to make your writing more effective is to vary the sentence pattern.

One way to create variety is to invert the sentence order, putting the verb before the subject.

On came the hoof tramps and the voices of the riders, two grave old voices, conversing soberly as they grew near. "Young Goodman Brown," Nathaniel Hawthorne

Out from the Rebel lines came a lone rider, a young officer in a gray uniform, galloping madly, a staff in his hand with a white flag fluttering from the end of it. A Stillness at Appomattox, Bruce Catton

Another way to invert the normal sentence order is to ask a question.

What are these inductions and deductions, how have you got at this hypothesis? "The Method of Scientific Investigation," T. H. Huxley

Something that interrupts the flow of the sentence creates a variation.

A man may say, if he likes, that the moon is made of green cheese: that is an hypothesis. "The Method of Scientific Investigation," T. H. Huxley

Parallel structure is another way to diversify sentence pattern.

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. "Of Studies," Francis Bacon

A modifying phrase or clause at the beginning of a sentence permits another alternative to the subject - verb - complement pattern.

Though I have faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. I Corinthians. 13:2

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