Lesson 6 Emphasis (or how to end sentences)
Begin simple Begin sentences with simple grammar subject = a concrete noun (ideally flesh and blood character) verb = the main action Begin sentences with simple meaning begin with something old/familiar
End Complex Complex grammar can come at end of sentence nominalizations; long complex phrases and clauses Complex meanings should come at end of sentence end with something new end with any unfamiliar technical terms
Principle Keep beginnings of sentences simple Use ends of sentences for complex grammar and new info, particularly unfamiliar terms
Stress The last two or three words of a sentence are especially important – these words will get special emphasis when read. Unfortunately, a healthy person could be devastated by such an early diagnosis. Unfortunately, such an early diagnosis could devastate a healthy person. Unfortunately, such an early diagnosis for a healthy person could be devastating. So end the sentence with the idea you want readers to see as particularly significant
Diagnosing empahsis Read your sentences aloud and, as you read the last three or four words, tap your finger on the desk. Do those words deserve strong emphasis? If not, look for words that do and rewrite sentence to move those ideas to the end.
How to end sentences with emphasis Trim the end (cut filler phrases or padding) Socio biologists claim that our genes control our social behavior in the way we act in situations we are in everyday.
How to end sentences with emphasis Move peripheral ideas to the left and important new info right. The Data offered to prove ESP are weak, for the most part. Questions about the ethics of withdrawing intravenous feeding are more difficult.
One device to emphasize important, new info at the end of the sentence Not only X but Y (and end with positive unless you have reason to end with negative) We must clarify these issues and develop deeper trust. Vs. We must not only clarify these issues but develop deeper trust.
Another device to emphasize important, new info at the end of the sentence Don’t end with a word you said earlier in the sentence – replace with pronoun our, if you can, cut. A reader will hear emphasis on the word just before the last words. Vs. A reader will hear emphasis on the word just before it.
Making meaning handout
Review Lesson 3: Make actions the verbs of your sentences. Lesson 4: Make the characters the subjects of your sentences (and make simple subjects short, concrete, preferably flesh and blood characters)
Review Lesson 5: Cohesiveness Something old and something new: begin sentences with information familiar to your readers and end sentences with information your reader cannot predict.
Review Lesson 6: emphasis Arrange sentences so that complex grammar and new info, particularly unfamiliar terms, come at the end of the sentence. Arrange sentences knowing that so that the last two or three words will be stressed by the reader; the reader will read these words as particularly significant.