sentence types · writing tips

Quick Tip How to Get Better Writing: Use Different Sentence Types

By Jacqueline Schaalje sentence types

One thing that will make your writing much better is to vary the sentence type. It doesn’t matter what kind of text you’re writing: it can be a story, an essay or a report.

For whatever text you write, you can be sure that people will get bored when the sentences all sound the same.

Am I making sense?

You see, now that I insert a question, you are suddenly paying more attention, aren’t you?

Kinds of Sentences

Tip: Use all of them!

A question is one kind of sentence. They are called interrogative sentences. They end with a question mark (?).

The most common kind of sentence is of course declarative sentences (declarations/statements).

Exclamatory sentences are used less, but they can be effective to put in. Exclamations are the following:

What an interesting idea!

How about that!

Exclamatory sentences end with an exclamation mark (!).

And the last type of sentence is an imperative sentence. This is a sentence that gives a command. Here are some examples:

As you can see, imperative sentences don’t have a subject (= no one who does anyone), as the reader is told to do something.

Decide Which Sentence Type You’d Like to Use

When you write something, try to think about the sentence type that would be most suitable for the idea that you want to write about. Doing this will make your writing so much better.

Now do the following quick quiz to check your understanding of the different sentence types. After the quiz, read on to practise some writing of your own.

sentence types2

Quiz

Decide what sentence type is being used.

Example:

With the popularity of the internet and mobile devices, reading a print newspaper is almost something out of the past.

This is a declarative sentence.

Do this quiz online here and check your answers.

1 However, don’t be surprised there are still a fair number of people who prefer to read a print newspaper over surfing the web or accessing a news site.

2 Why on earth would people still read old-fashioned newspapers?

3 Well, for one thing, they are easier on the eyes.

4 Mobile devices like iPhones and tablets are convenient on the go, but they are not always best for your eyes.

5 Remember those tiny letters or annoying glare that distracts from what you are reading?

6 Make a conscious choice for the health of their eyes.

7 Oh no, another annoying pop-up ad!

8 When you read news stories online you’ll have to deal with annoying ads popping up and crawling over your screen like cat’s paws.

9 Avoid those distractions and irritating clicks and read traditional newspapers where ads are easy to avoid and skip over.

10 A last reason to read regular newspapers is that you’ll never have to search for the most important news, as it’s right on the front page.

11 On the other hand, online you can be bombarded with news stories after which you’ll have to decide for yourself what matters most.

Okay, enjoyed the quiz?

Exercise 2

Don’t skip this.

Now we’ll do another exercise, which is just as important. This is to change the sentence type of a sentence that I’ll give you. This is an important skill. Suppose you’ve written something, but when you read it over again you think: Hm, it’s quite good, but just a tiny bit dull.

Then, all you need to do sometimes is to change some sentences from declarative to an imperative, or put in a question. Or insert an exclamation; that will wake ’em!

You will see that your text will not be dull anymore, or at the very least a little less dull.

Let me give you some examples.

For instance, you’ve written this sentence in the script for your presentation:

We should look at a map of the area.

It would probably more interesting and also more appropriate (= suitable) if you wrote: Let’s have a look at the map of the area, shall we? (Which is a question.)

Or you could write: Have a look for yourselves at this map of the area. (Which is an imperative.)

Or suppose you’ve written this sentence:

You must write a proper conclusion of your thesis, which includes reviewing your main argument.

It would probably more interesting if you made this sentence imperative:

Write a proper conclusion of your thesis, which includes reviewing your main argument.

Or a variation of this:

Don’t forget to write a proper conclusion of your thesis, which includes reviewing your main argument.

A question would work too:

Have you written a proper conclusion of your thesis, which includes reviewing your main argument?

sentence3

Okay, now you’re probably ready for the exercise:

Exercise

Change the sentence to the type that is indicated in brackets (). I’m not putting this as an online quiz, as more than one answer is possible. You can check some suggested answers underneath.

Example:

Voting is important. (Interrogative)

So your task is to make the sentence a question.

Answer: Why is Voting So Important?

1 Voting is a way to let your voice be heard and participate in a democratic society. (Imperative)

2 However, not everyone takes part in the voting process. (Interrogative)

3 Why are there so many people that don’t even bother registering? (Declarative)

4 Before you choose to not exercise your right to vote during the next election, you should learn why voting is so important. (Imperative)

5 Voting is designed to let everyone have the chance for their voice to be heard. (Interrogative)

6 Give your say on a particular candidate or a specific law and share your opinion. (Exclamatory)

7 If you choose to not vote, you are stuck with what others decide. (Imperative)

8 Voting is the only way to make your opinion count. (Exclamatory)

Suggested answers:

1 Let your voice be heard and participate in a democratic society.

2 Why doesn’t everyone take part in the voting process?

3 Many people don’t even bother registering.

4 Before you choose to not exercise your right to vote during the next election, learn why voting is so important.

5 Isn’t voting designed to let everyone have the chance for their voice to be heard?

6 What a great way voting is to give your say on a particular candidate or a specific law and share your opinion!

7 Choose to not vote and you are stuck with what others decide.

8 How important it is to make your opinion count!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s