Lessons in Writing – Sentence Structure.

Writing a proper sentence that conveys the idea clearly is extremely important to score high bands in the IELTS or any other English language exam. Most students have no idea how to write a proper, impactful, and clear sentence. In this blog post, I will try to deconstruct a sentence into its elements and explain how to write it effectively.

What is a sentence? It is a group of words that are used to express a thought. If a sentence does not completely convey a thought, it is called a fragment sentence. You will lose grammatical resource bands for writing fragment sentences.

A sentence has ONE purpose. The purpose can be to convey ONE clause (a simple sentence) or more than one clauses (complex sentences). A simple sentence has a subject, a verb and an object. A simple sentence can be expanded in several ways.

As you expand the purpose of a sentence, it can be made complex.

Now, read the following paragraph from one of my essays (Teachers have a bigger influence on children) and try to find the purpose of each sentence:

Sentence 1: Moreover, parents lack the skills to teach children various subjects and social interaction. (Purpose: Parents lack skills)

Simple sentence: Parents lack skills. 

We can make this complex by adding more information. What type of skills do parents lack? teach various subjects; teach social interaction.

As you add more information, a simple sentence can be converted into a complex sentence. In the above sentence, I’ve added TWO additional pieces of information with a simple sentence to make it complex.

Sentence 2: Both mother and father are engaged in their work from morning to evening and do not have time to teach subjects. (Purpose: Parents lack the time + Reason.)

Simple sentence: Mother and father are engaged in work. 

Let us add more information. Let us mention a time frame (from morning to evening) and explain the consequences (do not have time to teach subjects).

Similarly, the following sentences can be completed.

Sentence 3: Even if they have time, they lack knowledge of the mathematics, languages, and science. (Purpose: Parents lack knowledge + example)

Sentence 4: Also, they can not teach social skills to the children since the proper setting to learn this is a classroom where a child can interact with the peer group. (Purpose: Parents lack social skills + Reason.)

Sentence 5: Teachers have the skills and locational advantage to teach behavior. (Purpose: Teachers have skills)

Can you see that each sentence has ONE purpose only? None of the sentences adds the second purpose. I’ve added additional information related to that purpose only.

I’ve not added skills, time, knowledge and social skills (FOUR different purposes) in the same sentence. However, to explain each purpose, I’ve given additional information related to that purpose. I’ve written one separate sentence on each purpose. If the purpose of a sentence is clear in your mind, the rest is easy. Sentence structure will fall in place.

You will notice that:

  • Each sentence is connected. How? The first four sentences are about what parents cannot do. The last sentence contrasts parents and teachers. It mentions what parents cannot do, teachers can.
  • That is, though each sentence has a separate purpose, there is an overall purpose (a theme) of the entire paragraph.

Let us do another exercise from another essay I’ve written (Illegal to reject someone applying for a job):

Sentence 1: In absence of a law protecting the right to apply for a job without any age-based discrimination, people will not get equal opportunities. (Purpose: law provides equal opportunities)

Sentence 2: A person has a right to learn anything at any age and then compete for a job. (Purpose: the right to learn and compete)

Sentence 3: For example, a housewife may decide to learn advanced computer languages after 40 years of age and then apply for a job in a software company. (Purpose: Example of ‘the right to learn and compete’- housewife)

Sentence 4: Rejecting her application merely on the basis of age instead of her competence and qualification will not be a morally correct decision. (Purpose: Age vs Competence)

Note that in the above sentences I’ve used various devices to construct complexity. These are – and; from X to Y; even if X, Y; since; where; in absence of A, B; instead of.

Again, each sentence has a separate idea. You will notice that:

  • Though each sentence has a separate purpose, they are connected to each other. The first sentence is about law and equal opportunities. The second is about one particular law – right to learn and compete. The next two sentences constitute an example of the second sentence.
  • The purpose of the paragraph is to explain why the law is important to protect people from age-based discrimination.

I’ve tried to put things as clear as possible. However, a teacher can just convey a message. My job is just 5 percent. 95 percent is your efforts. Implement this principle in your daily writing and I’m sure your score in the IELTS exam (or any other English language exam) will improve.

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