Sentence Structure



Sentence Structure and English Grammar

Someone who needs to write for a living – or write in his/her job – needs to be able to distinguish good English grammar from not-so-good grammar.

Grammar may be an “umbrella” term meaning writing well, speaking well, and using words as they were meant to be used.  It’s a rather comprehensive subject that can be broken down into many smaller topics.  

Business writing is much different from creative writing.  Sentence structure is quite similar in both, except that the sentences in the latter would tend to be much more descriptive, flowery, and longer. 

Write for your busy business person when you think of business writing: 

  • Keep your sentence structure short, succinct, and focused. 
  • Keep your writing simple. 
  • Use familiar language and use simple sentences.   
  • Write in active voice – not passive voice.
  • Make the important information "jump" from the page.

Always write for the reader. 

  • Consider the reader’s best interests.
  • Consider advantages and benefits for your reader always.

To begin, there are a few errors that are very common that I hope to be able to offer to you.



Common Sentence Structure Errors discussed here

A partial listing of simple and common errors follows:

  1. Sentence fragments
  2. Run-on sentences

I’ll deal with these first – and we can get into more details about other grammar challenges later


Sentence

What is a sentence?  A sentence can be very short – but it needs only two parts – a subject and a verb.  A sentence is a complete thought.  It can stand alone and make sense – complete sense. Sentence structure is important for accuracy.

A sentence requires only a subject and a verb to be a true sentence.

The boy ran.

We can add "modifiers" to describe the action a little more clearly.

The boy in the blue shirt ran  around the soccer field.



Ensuring Excellent Sentence Structure

1.  Sentence fragments


A sentence fragment is a group of words that may be printed to look like  a complete sentence.  But since it cannot stand alone and make sense, it is not a sentence.  It is called a sentence fragment. 

  • A piece of a sentence
  • A fragment of a sentence
  • The boy in the blue shirt
  • Around the soccer field

With business writing, write in complete sentences as a general rule. 

If you are going to use a sentence fragment, then make sure that it is clear that it is a fragment and that the fragment is not being used improperly as a complete sentence.

Special Link - Click here to learn more about Sentence Fragments.

Special Link - Click here to learn more about phrases.

Special Link - Click here to learn more about clauses.


Complicated sentence fragment

Here is another example of a very complicated sentence fragment:

Although we didn’t meet our target in December because of  the political and the economic state in the country. We approached new Large accounts such as Delta Group.

Above, the first long clause is not able to stand alone.  Yet the writer has placed a period at the end. 

To correct:  Remove the period and replace it with a comma.

Although we didn’t meet our target in December because of the political and the economical state in the country, we approached new Large accounts such as Delta Group.


Sentences must end with a period

As discussed in the “period” page of this site, a period can be considered a “full-stop.”  It ends the sentence. The period is an important part of accurate sentence structure.









2. Run-on sentence or comma splice

Some students may, instead, place a comma at the end of a sentence and continue with a similar thought into another sentence.  Placing a comma instead of a period at the end of a sentence will create the error known as the run-on sentence. 

Because it uses a comma to join together two sentences, this error is also called a comma splice.

Special Link - Click here to read more about run-on sentences.


Run-on sentence can be very long

Sometimes, we can be excited and speak almost non-stop, stringing long sentences together, one after the other, with hardly a breath between. 

If we write as we speak, and do not include the appropriate punctuation, the result can be a run-on sentence. 

We ran as fast as we could from school, the big dog was chasing us, we ran past the crossing guard, we ran and ran until we got back home safe!

We may carelessly  use commas instead of periods at the ends of the sentences as they roll along.  If this happens, the result is a number of thoughts strung incorrectly together into a run-on sentence. 

Care must be taken to punctuate correctly to avoid this rather common error.

Periods - not commas - belong at the ends of your sentences.


LINK - Return from Sentence Structure to Professional Business Writing.

LINK - Click here to learn more about Sentence Fragments.

LINK - Click here to find an excellent business writing course.