Higher Close Reading Skills Analysis: Sentence Structure
Sentence Structure • With these questions, you must identify the key feature of the sentence and say what effect it has. • Look at how the sentence has been put together. • You need to: • Identify a feature of sentence structure • Comment on the effect the structure has. • Merely identifying the feature = NO MARKS
Standard Sentences This paragraph is comprised of a standard set of sentences. These sentences are neither particularly long nor particularly short. There is nothing to comment on in these sentences as they are simply a set of statements. The punctuation is merely serving the purpose it should serve, and there are no other techniques to be found and commented on.
Types of Sentence Features and Effects
Types of sentence • Type of sentence • Statement • Question • Exclamation • Command • Word order • Inversion
Organisation and Patterns • Length of sentence • Long and complex • Short and simple • One word • Pattern in sentence • List • Repetition • Climax
Punctuation • Used to help identify sentence type. • Occasionallywill be worth own comment. • Do not learn stock responses. • Always take into account the context of the whole passage: • Mood/Tone • Content • Style
Punctuation • Inverted commas • Colon • Semi-colon • Dash • Hyphen • Parenthesis
Features and Effects • Create a table that lists: • The types of sentence • The identifying features of the sentence • The possible effects of the sentence.
Statement Question Exclamation Command Inversion State important fact/information Involve reader; make reader think; questions himself; query Shows shock/anger/ surprise/excitement Order to follow; shows character Places focus on first part of sentence Types of Sentence Answers
Long and complex Short and simple One word List Repetition Climax Dramatic effect – identify effect (creates drama/ tension/humour/etc.) States topic/places focus on word Shows build up of amount Makes idea stick/draws focus onto repeated word/phrase Dramatic build up (comedy/excitement/ tension) Organisation and Patterns
Inverted commas Colon Semi-colon Dash Hyphen Parenthesis Quotation; speech; title; show disbelief. Introduce list, quotation, explanation Separate clauses or items in a list. Introduce key statement. Joins two separate words together. Pair of dashes or brackets that add extra information. Punctuation
Sentence Structure Features • The features can be clumped into five main possibilities that you should check on each sentence structure question – memorise them! • Word order • Length of sentence • Repetition • Punctuation and lists • Climax or anticlimax • You can use a mnemonic to help you remember these, for example, We Love Robert’s Pet Cow. Or something better!
Word Order • Writers play about with word order to create an effect. • This can give more impact to their writing, or stress something that they feel to be particularly important. • Compare the effect of • The Government is adopting this measure with enthusiasm. • with • With great enthusiasm the Government is adopting this measure. • The sentence is made more vivid and important by putting the interesting feature first, “with great enthusiasm”.
Word Order • The same kind of effect can be created by keeping the important word until the end: • Compare the effect of: • The chief coach was a strong disciplinarian with his players but fierce in the protection of his team. • with • The chief coach was a strong disciplinarian with his players but, in the protection of his team, fierce. • What is the effect of this changed sentence?
Length of Sentence • This tends to be easy to spot but hard to comment on. • Obviously, it is not enough to identify a long or a short sentence, you must comment on the effect it has. • The key thing to remember is that it usually has something to do with dramatic effect.
Show how the sentence structure emphasises the impact of the destruction of his bat. (2) I used that bat the entire summer and a magical season it was. I was the best hitter in the neighbourhood. Once, I won a game in the last at-bat with a home run, and the boys just crowded round me as if I were a spectacle to behold, as if I were, for one small moment, in this insignificant part of the world, playing this meaningless game, their majestic, golden, prince. But, the bat broke. Some kid used it without my permission. He hit a foul ball and the bat split, the barrel flying away, the splintered handle still in the kid’s hands.
Comment on the structure and effect of this sentence. (2) • The Scottish race has been variously and plentifully accused of being dour, mean, venal, sly, narrow, slothful, sluttish, nasty, dirty, immoderately drunken, embarrassingly sentimental, masterfully hypocritical, and a blueprint for disaster when eleven of them are together on a football field.
Repetition • Repetition is used for dramatic emphasis. • The repetition in “I came. I saw. I conquered.” stresses the importance of the man who did this. We know this because of the repetition and emphasis on the word “I”. • Look for repetition in: • Sentence structure • Expressions or words • Sounds
Show how the writer’s use of sentence structure in these lines helps to convey the passion he felt about Ali’s decision. (2) • The day that Ali refused the draft, I cried in my room. I cried for him and for myself, for my future and for his, for all our black possibilities.
Show how the writer’s use of sentence structure makes clear the contrasting environments of the people in the past and the people today. (2) • At our end of the corridor there is a musical cacophony, at theirs a profound and disheartening silence. At our end of the corridor there are a thousand different voices demanding to be heard, demanding our attention … At their cold and gloomy end of the corridor, however, only a trickle of learning or culture survives from classical times, mainly through hearsay and deduction.
Punctuation and Lists • You can obviously at this stage identify punctuation marks but as always for Analysis questions you must be able to comment on the effect. • To be successful in this question you have to know that one of the functions of: • A colon is to introduce a list or an explanation • A semi-colon is to divide up long items in a list • Inverted commas is to identify titles • A dash is to add information or an explanation
Show how the punctuation of the sentence beginning ‘These included:’ is particularly helpful in following the argument at this stage. (6) • The panel divided into two teams. One offered a number of alternatives. These included a ‘Landscape of Thorns’ – a square mile of randomly-spaced 80ft basalt spikes which jut out of the ground at different angles; ‘Menacing Earthworks’ – giant mounds surrounding a 2000ft map of the world displaying all the planet’s nuclear waste dumps; a ‘Black Hole’ – a huge slab of black concrete that absorbs so much solar heat that it is impossible to approach.
Punctuation and Lists Answer • The punctuation is helpful in this sentence because it helps to separate out the various solutions. • The colon after ‘included’ shows that there are several solutions coming up. • The semi-colons divide up the three solutions (the spikes, the mounds and the slab) so that you can see each solution in isolation. • The inverted commas give you the ‘name’ of each solution as in ‘Black Hole’. • The dash after each of the names introduces an explanation of each of the names – a huge black slab.
Climax or Anticlimax • A climax occurs if the most important information comes at the end of a sentence, and there is a sense that everything else the writer has said has been building up to that point. • An anticlimax occurs if the end of the sentence feels flat. It can often come in the form of a very short sentence. • Climax and anticlimax is inextricably linked with sentence structure questions.
What is the effect of this sentence as the opening to a passage? (2) • Deluges, droughts, fires, landslides, avalanches, gales, tornadoes: is it just our imagination, or is Europe’s weather getting worse?
How does the structure of the last sentence in this paragraph highlight the seriousness of the situation? (2) • Reducing greenhouse gases still won’t be enough to prevent severe changes to the world’s weather. The scientists’ advice to governments, businesses and private citizens about this is grim: get used to it.