Daniel Mesick, Principal
740 Rose Ave. W, St Paul, MN 55117
(651) 293-8800 | Get Directions
Syntax Helpful Hints—What to look for when someone mentions that awful word.
Things to consider when asked about syntax.
· Where are the sentences long or short? How does this change affect meaning or speed of the piece?
· What types of sentences are used? Any ideas why?
· Is the piece grammatical or ungrammatical—if ungrammatical in what parts and for what purpose?
· Any unusual word order or omissions? Why?
· Parallel or repetition? What does it emphasis?
· Look at punctuation. Is there a pattern? How does it effect tone, meaning, and pacing?
Diction: Word choice is very closely aligned with syntax because it helps control pacing, tone, and meaning of a piece.
1. Monosyllabic: words that are only one syllable in length—used for simplicity
Cat, dog, mad, good, bad, etc.
2. Polysyllabic: words that are more than one syllable—the higher the ratio of polysyllabic words, typically the more difficult the content.
Feline, canine, angry, exemplary, sinister, supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.
3. Denotative: containing an exact meaning
Dress, house, girl
4. Connotative: containing a suggested meaning
Gown, shack, filly
Word Order: Most English sentences follow a subject-verb-object pattern. Changing this order can draw attention to a sentence or create emphasis.
Without a doubt he is hungry.
Hungary, without a doubt, he is.
I like Sara—not Susan.
Sara I like—not Susan.
Sentence Patterns (usually associated with mood)
5. Declarative—makes a statement
6. Interrogative—asks a question
7. Imperative—gives a command
8. Exclamatory—gives some type of emotion
Sentence Length: Good writers shift between sentence lengths to control pacing and emphasis.
9. Polysyndeton: using multiple conjunctions to slow the pace
I came and I saw and I conquered but I felt bad about it so I rebuilt and left.
10. Asyndeton: omitting conjunctions to produce a fast pace
I came, I saw, I conquered
11. Periodic: sentences that save the meaning until the end of the sentence
With an intensity never before seen in high school, Kalia played the violin.
12. Loose: meaning of the sentence is at the beginning, allowing you to ignore the rest
Kalia played the violin with an intensity never before seen in high school.
13. Simple: one independent clause
14. Compound: two independent clauses
15. Complex: one independent and one dependent
16. Compound-complex: two independents and one dependent
Repetition: hopefully you already know what this means. Hopefully you know what this means!
17. Parallelism: coordinating word order or ideas to create a certain effect or emphasis
Punctuation: used to reinforce meaning, construct effect, or express a particular tone or voice.
18. Semicolon: gives equal weight to independent clauses (usually a sign of parallelism)
19. Colon: directs readers’ attention to the words that follow. (for example this list)
20. Dash: marks a sudden change in thought or tone—is this stuff making sense yet??
Mood: varying verb tense to create a certain feeling or style
21. Indicative: used for factual sentences
a. I ate a smoothie for dinner.
22. Subjunctive: used to express doubt or a conditional attitude
b. If I were you, I’d only have a smoothie for dinner.
23. Imperative: used for commands or a direct tone
Eat the bleeping smoothie.
Daniel Mesick, Principal | 740 Rose Ave W, St Paul, MN 55117 | (651) 293-8800 | Get Directions
Grades: 9-12 Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. Fax: (651) 293-8806