Author Topic: What Does Periodic Sentence Mean?  (Read 296 times)

Offline heartsongjt

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  • A/K/A Jan (Sanford) Tetstone
What Does Periodic Sentence Mean?
« on: November 27, 2018, 12:57:38 PM »

The Periodic Sentence
 A sentence is periodic when the completion of the main thought is delayed until the end.   This delay creates a feeling of suspense.  A periodic sentence is doubly emphatic:  it has emphasis by position because the important idea comes at the end; it has emphasis by subordination because all ideas except the last one are grammatically dependent.

To give emphasis to a loosely constructed sentence, turn it into periodic form.

Loose:  I saw two men fight a duel, last week, on a moonlit summer night, in a small town in southern Florida.
[What is most important, the time? the place? or the actual duel?   Place the important idea last.

Periodic:  Last week, on a moonlit summer night, in a small town in southern Florida, I saw two men fight a duel.   

Loose:  We left Yellowstone Gateway for the ride of our lives in a six-horse fox hunt.
[Place the important idea last, and make all other ideas grammatically subordinate.]

Periodic:  Leaving Yellowstone Gateway in a six-horse fox hunt, we had the ride of our lives.

Loose:  The river was swollen with incessant rain, and it swept away the dam.
[Which is the important idea? Why not make it appear more important by subordinating everything to it?]

Periodic:  The river, swollen with incessant rain, swept away the dam.

Loose:  War means to have our pursuit of knowledge and happiness rudely broken off, to feel the sting of death and bereavement, to saddle future generations with a burden of debt and national hatred.

Periodic:   To have our pursuit of knowledge and happiness rudely broken off, to feel the sting of death and bereavement, to saddle future generations with a burden of debt and national hatred--this is war.

Note -- A loose sentence is not necessarily bad.  Ordinary written discourse contains far more loose sentences than periodic.  A mingling of types is desirable for variety. 

Good luck with your writing.        jt

« Last Edit: November 27, 2018, 01:05:52 PM by JanTetstone »
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