Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writing Tip of the Week

Creating Emphasis II

Sentence structure can affect emphasis. An idea in an independent clause usually receives more stress than an idea in a dependant clause. Compare the following examples.

Examples.

Although Max had dreamed of becoming a doctor, he held menial jobs most of his life.

Max had dreamed of becoming a doctor, but he held menial jobs most of his life.

The first sentence emphasizes that Max had held menial jobs; the second sentence that Max had dreamed of becoming a doctor.

The order of the clauses can also affect emphasis. Compare the above examples with those that follow.

Examples.

Max held menial jobs for most of his life, although he had dreamed of becoming a doctor.

Although Max held menial jobs for most of his life, he had dreamed of becoming a doctor.

For most of his life, Max held menial jobs, although he had dreamed of becoming a doctor.

Although Max had dreamed of becoming a doctor, for most of his life, he held menial jobs.

The above sentences say the same thing and, for the most part, they sound equally correct. The version one chooses depends on the emphasis desired (and how the sentence fits with other sentences in the paragraph). A writer should never settle for the first version but should consider all correct means of expression.

(esf)

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