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Grammar as Rhetoric and Style
The Language of CompositionSlide2
Direct, Precise, and Active Verbs
Add energy to writing
Language of Composition –
Read the examples and the analysis of the effects of the verbs.
– use forms of “to be” sparingly in favor of more direct verbs
– verbs that create a more vivid image of the action
– use active over passive voiceSlide3
Improve the sentence below by replacing one or more verbs with a more effective verb—more vivid, precise, and active verb. Discuss the rhetorical impact of your choice.
It was not very long before she regretted buying the very expensive handbag.
: Before next class, review your college essay for verb choice. Choose more vivid, precise, and active verbs in favor of forms of “to be” and passive voice.Slide4
Use language that is as straightforward as possible.
Pitfalls to Avoid – See
pp. 592-593 for examples.
– changing a verb into a noun, often resulting in wordiness (ex: discuss
discussion; depend dependence)
– using “fancy” language without a purpose (is the word really more precise?)Slide5
Concise Diction Practice
Revise each sentence as necessary to improve clarity and concision.
A person who has a dependence on constant approval from others is usually insecure.
A key step toward losing weight is to make a reduction in the amount of food you consume.
A recalcitrant attitude has resulted from too many of our colleagues becoming mired in quotidian concerns.Slide6
Words that take the place of a noun
Define viewpoint in writing
First person, second person, third person
Consistency is key for clarity (like we have talked about with pronoun agreement)Slide7
Pronouns and Sexism
The problem: third person singular pronoun to refer to either a male or a female
Combine the male and female pronouns:
he or she
Use the plural form of the pronoun:
(change the sentence accordingly for agreement)
Alternate the genders of the pronouns
What are the implications in the following sentence?
I hope I am not giving away professional secrets if I say that a novelist’s chief desire is to be as unconscious as possible. He has to induce in himself a state of perpetual lethargy.
Considering and correcting sexist pronoun use can help a writer to enhance credibility.Slide8
Pronouns and Style
First person pronouns
More informal, emphasize personal experience
Second person pronouns
Reserved for informal situations where you want to directly address and engage the reader (ex: editorials, speeches)
Third person pronouns
More formal, objectiveSlide9
Complete Exercise 2 on pages 424-425 according to the directions.Slide10
Noun or noun phrase that tells you something about a nearby noun or pronoun
It turned out that one of the top students,
, had learned of this rule.
a wiry fifty-nine-year-old who has a stern buzz cut
, was in 1997 the principal of Sarasota High School.Slide11
Functions of Appositives
Clarify a term
, can be made to keep a school so.
Yet in other genres—
fiction and memoir
—the news is far more upsetting.
Smooth choppy writing.
Without the appositive
An automaton is a machine. The automaton can be made to keep a school so.Slide12
Appositives - Punctuation
Usually, appositives are set off with punctuation
No punctuation needed if the sentence cannot be understood without the appositive
a wiry fifty-nine-year-old who has a stern buzz cut
, was in 1997 the principal of Sarasota High School.
Dashes – add emphasis or clarity
In 1981, two professors…began following the lives of eighty-one high-school valedictorians—
forty-six women and thirty-five men from Illinois.
Colon – add emphasis or clarity
We are given plenty of instruction about the specifics of writing:
word choice, description, style.Slide13
Appositives - Position
Before or after the noun?
A wiry fifty-nine-year-old who has a stern buzz cut,
Daniel Kennedy was in 1997 the principal of Sarasota High School.
What effect does this move have on the sentence?Slide14
Identify the appositive and the word or phrase it modifies
My father, a truly exceptional man, worked at an ordinary job and was unknown outside of the small town where he lived.
The eruptions in the early part of our century—the time of world wars and emergent modernity—were premonitions of a sort.
Turn to page 171 in your books. Complete 1-5 in exercise 3.
Choose one of the sentences in exercise 5 on page 173. Complete the exercise for that particular sentence following the directions listed.Slide15
Describes, focuses, qualifies the nouns, pronouns, and verbs they modify
Adjective, phrase, clause
Consider the following example. Where are the modifiers and what are their effect?
Sprawling and dull in class, he comes alive in the halls and in the cafeteria.
Incorrectly or overusing modifiers can make writing too wordy or unclearSlide16
Modifiers for Style
Placement is important—what is the difference in effect here?
Physically awkward, she walks like a seal crossing a beach, and is prone to drop her books and dither in terror when she stands before a handsome boy.
When she stands before the handsome boy, physically awkward, she walks like a seal crossing a beach, and is prone to drop her books and dither in terror.Slide17
A Word of Caution
Don’t use too many
The bright yellow compact car with the pun-laden, out-of-state vanity plates was like beautiful, warm sunshine on the gray, dreary Tuesday afternoon.
Don’t rely on adjectives over strong verbs
Elaine walked with a confident and quick stride.
Don’t add too many qualifiers (especially
Troy felt really sad.
Troy felt discouraged.Slide18
Complete Exercise 3 from page 794 according to the directions.Slide19
Short Simple Sentences and Fragments
Simple Sentence – consists of one independent clause (S-V-complete thought)
Finally she tells me not to worry.
The emails and phone messages addressed to my former self come from a distant race of people with exotic concerns and far too much time on their hands.
Can be short, but can also be quite long with compound subjects, verbs, and modifiers.
Fragment – incomplete sentence, missing subject, verb, or both
Hurry, I urge my country.
Before it’s too late
Short Simple Sentences and Fragments - Style
Short simple sentences can be effective in several situations
After several long sentences
As a summary of important ideas
As a transition between sentences or paragraphs
Too many can make writing sound monotonous
Fragments should be used sparingly, but can be effective
To make a transition
To signal a conclusion
To emphasize a pointSlide21
Short Sentences and Fragments - Practice
Complete Exercise 3 on page 255 according to the directions.Slide22
Structures within sentences take the same form
Words, phrases, and clauses
Why should we live with such a
hurry and waste
Men esteem truth remote,
the outskirts of the system,
the farthest star,
the last man
If we are really dying
let us hear
the rattle in our throats and feel the cold in the extremities;
if we are alive
let us go
about our business.
Parallelism creates a feeling of balance and can show that two or more ideas are of equal weightSlide23
When parallelism is broken…
Consider the difference in the following sentence:
Why should we live with such a hurry and to waste life?
What happens to the sentence when parallel structure is broken?Slide24
Types of Parallelism
Anaphora: repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses
Exercise builds stamina in
exercise builds stamina in
teenagers and adults;
exercise builds stamina in
older adults and senior citizens.
: Repetition of the same group of words at the end of successive clauses.
To become a top-notch player, I thought
like an athlete
; I trained
like an athlete
; I ate
like an athlete
Antithesis: the contrast of thoughts in two phrases, clauses, or sentences
Freedom is never voluntary given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.Slide25
Types of Parallelism, cont.
: The repetition of words in one phrase or clause in the reverse order in the next phrase or clause
We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us.
: one part of speech (usually a verb) is related to another part of speech in a way that is consistent with grammar but incongruous with meaning.
Kill the boys and the luggage!
Can make for an ironic or humorous effect.Slide26
Complete Exercise 1 on page 343.
Choose one option in Exercise 2 on page 343 and complete according to the directions.Slide27
Coordination in the Compound Sentence
Coordination gives equal value and significance to two or more elements in a sentence.
Join words, phrases, and independent clauses
Use coordination to join two independent clauses to create a compound sentence
Creating compound sentences
Correlative conjunction (not only…but also; either…or; just as…so also)
Semicolon and conjunctive adverbSlide28
Effect of Coordination
Coordinating Conjunctions Combining Main Clauses
Morbid curiosity is an occupational hazard for a writer, I suppose. I’ve never been bothered by it before.
Morbid curiosity is an occupational hazard for a writer, I suppose, but I’ve never been bothered by it before.
Semicolons Joining Main Clauses
Nature was then. This is Now
Nature was then; this is now.
Semicolons and Conjunctive Adverbs Joining Main Clauses
Now he no longer let the dog go to the lighted tunnel at once. He put out the light, and then kept the dog waiting a little while before he let him go.
Now he no longer let the dog go to the lighted tunnel at once; instead, he put out the light, and then kept the dog waiting a little while before he let him go.Slide29
Coordination for Style
Coordinating conjunctions smooth two shorter sentences
Conjunctions specify the relationships between two ideas
Semicolons can indicate a closer relationship than a period or conjunctionSlide30
Starting With a Conjunction
Beginning with a conjunction is acceptable and can be effective
Don’t overuse it
Discuss the effect of this technique in the following example:
I feel very strongly that our present technological trends drive us toward a decrease in the space—be it in the soundscape, the landscape, or the mindscape—in which the unplanned and the
can happen. Yet silence has to remain available in the soundscape, the landscape, and the mindscape.Slide31
Polysyndeton and Asyndeton
These techniques influence pace, emphasis, and complexity.
: the deliberate use of a series of conjunctions
When you get to college you may study history and psychology and literature and mathematics and botany.
Asyndeton: the deliberate omission of conjunctions
From his wealthy parents he received his wardrobe, his car, his tuition, his vacation, his attitude.Slide32
Choose one passage from Exercise 4 on pages 704-705.
Analyze the use of coordination in the passage according the directions.Slide33
Subordination in the Complex Sentence
Subordination: making the meaning of one clause dependent upon another clause
Uses a subordinating conjunction (ex: if, because, when, although, etc.)
Complex Sentence: sentenced formed by an independent clause and a dependent clause
Subordination tells how ideas in a complex sentence are relatedSlide34
Subordination and Relationships
Contrast or Concession
although, even though, thought, while, whereas
Although the book was not entirely free of the stereotypes of contemporary British colonial writing,
it was in some ways remarkably advanced for its time.
Cause and Effect or Reason
ecause, since, so that
Because neither island was well suited to agriculture
, the company in 1733 purchased St. Croix from France.
if, once, unless
Ex: I can think of no one objection that will possible be raised against this proposal
unless it should be urged that the number of people will be thereby much lessened in the kingdom.
when, whenever, after, before, as, once, since, while
Ex: I had committed myself to doing it
when I sent for the rifle.Slide35
Subordination for Style
Which clause should be dependent?
Independent clause will carry the most force—use this clause to add emphasis.
Where to put the subordinate clause?
How does the effect change in the second sentence?
Though it was still August, the air had a lovely smell of October, football season, piles of yellow-red leaves, everything crisp and clean.
The air already had the smell of October, football season, piles of yellow-red leaves, everything crisp and clean, though it was still August.Slide36
Review passage #4 in Exercise 3 on 1005 and follow the directions given. In your journal, discuss how Thoreau uses subordination in this passage to inspire his reader. Consider not only what is subordinated, but where the subordinate clauses are placed and the relationships between subordinate and main clauses.Slide37
Cumulative, Periodic, and Inverted Sentences
Cumulative (Loose) Sentence: begins with a
standard sentence pattern
and adds multiple details
it. These details accumulate at the end of the sentence.
The women moved through the streets as winged messengers
, twirling around each other in slow motion, peeking inside homes and watching the easy sleep of men and women.
Periodic Sentence: Begins with multiple details and ends with the
standard sentence pattern
Often, after filling several notebooks with dozens of interviews, reading several books, diving into all manner of research materials, and making research trips, when I sit down to write,
I do so without looking at my notes at all
Inverted sentence: Verb comes before the subject
Everywhere was a shadow of death.Slide38
Unusual Patterns for Style
Unusual sentence patterns call attention to specific sentences and ideas.
Use for emphasis, rhythm, tension, dramatic effect
Identify the pattern and consider the effect in the following sentences.
In the woods, is perpetual youth.
It is a wilderness that is beautiful, dangerous, abundant, oblivious of us, mysterious, never to be conquered or controlled or second-guessed, or known more than a little.
Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of a special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration.Slide39
Unusual Patterns Practice
Complete Exercise 1 on pages 897-898 according to the directions.
Choose one item from Exercise 5 on pages 899-900 and complete according to the directions.