The basics of a strong sentence: A subject, a verb, and direct object

As I delve into the world of grammar, with the end goal of becoming a good grammarian, my own poor habits as a writer begin to appear. I don`t post here at Two Drops as much as I`d like to, however, when I do, the site has a decent following and I love to share these important discussions about grammar.
One of my habits as a writer is to emphasize my point at the end of the sentence in almost all of my sentence constructions; I love to use the “em dash” and throw a stinging retort or a resounding point at the end of my sentences. This is fine as a rhetorical device if a writer sprinkles his/her writing with this technique, but don`t do it every sentence. I`m no authority on grammar, so you may disagree, that`s what we do here—share knowledge and ideas as writers.
Another issue I have, at times, is clarity in a sentence structure. I have a horrible habit of missing this little fizzy bugger. Here is an example: “The students discussed their problems with the teacher.”  The grammarians out there may immediately recognize the problem of clarity in this sentence; however, some writers like me may have the bad habit of using a construction like this one, regularly. The issue in this construction is whether this sentence is saying the students discussed THEIR problems with THE TEACHER (meaning they talked to the teacher about their problems), or they discussed THEIR problems with THE TEACHER amongst themselves (they did not like this teacher). I want to use strong nouns and verbs in my sentence structures; this is a “back to basics” sentence structure that we as writers can build on (yes, you can end a sentence with a preposition).
A better construction of this example sentence could be the following: “The students have a problem with the teacher, so they discussed it amongst themselves.”  Another option might be, “The students had a problem and they discussed it with the teacher.
My professor loves this sentence: “Karen baked a cake.” This basic sentence has a subject, a transitive verb, and a direct object. The sentence is of course boring, however, this construction is the foundation with which we should learn to build more complex sentences that convey clarity and keep readers turning the page. If you would like a great example, study the writing of Cormac McCarthy. This man has clarity down to a “T.”

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S.W. Biddulph

Scott Biddulph is a published writer, author, and poet from North Georgia. He began writing as a youngster and followed his lifelong dream of reaching people through the written word when he returned to The University of North Georgia in 2013 to finish earning his BA/English with a concentration on publication and creative writing. His publications include the following: an eBook, Apples of Gold: A collection of inspirational short stories and poems (Smashwords, 2010) and a paperback, Voices from the Heart, (Createspace, 2012). His poetry is published in Papers and Publications Undergraduate Research Journal. Vol 3 (2014) and the award-winning Chestatee Review (Spring, 2015), among other places (Check his LinkedIn profile for a full list of his publications). He is currently working on publishing poetry, creative non-fiction, academic essays, and his memoir. ******** Scott has also worked as an intern editor for the University of North Georgia Press. As a freelance editor, he has done the layout and design of several books and magazines. He is currently working with several authors on various publication projects in which he is either ghostwriting, editing manuscripts, or doing the layout and design of their books. ******** Finally, and most importantly, he is a father, grandfather, husband, and dedicated Harley Davidson rider. He and his family enjoy the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains where they live—especially their screened in back porch where they love to bird watch. ******** ~ "I love realism. I love writing about the raw, down-to-Earth, heartfelt realities of life. I love to write in a way that reaches into the human soul—to take the greatest pains and struggles in life, and make them a blessing to others. Fantasy is a wonderful, interesting thing—but real-life situations, feelings, fears, and dreams are an unexplored ocean of stories that need to be told." ~ ~Scott Biddulph~

2 comments

  1. I always thought that the sentences like “Karen baked a cake.” were in need of an explanation. So, the long winded person that I am, I do. Now I know better. Also I thought ending a sentence with a preposition was bad grammar. Hey- I learned something. That’s always good!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This sentence is very basic to demonstrate a subject/verb/direct object sentence structure. In most writing, academic or creative, we probably won’t see many sentences this bland. I’m glad the post was informative.

      Liked by 1 person

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