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Writing: Sentences & Paragraphs

Great Starts


Today's Snack: The start of a meal can be called an "hors d'oeuvre" (pronounced "or DERVE"). An "hors d'oeuvre" is a French expression for an appetizer. The French words mean "before the main work." It's a small bit of really tasty food that you are served before a meal, to "whet" your appetite - or get you excited to eat. For example, cook one piece of bacon on a piece of paper towel in the microwave. Let cool for about 30 seconds, then wrap it around a cube of cheddar cheese. Voila! Enjoy with a glass of grape juice.




Foxtail ball toy


Piece of lined paper and No. 2 pencil



Writing the beginning of a sentence is like serving an appetizer before a meal. Getting a great start for a sentence is just as important as getting everybody excited for the main meal by serving a really delicious appetizer.


If you start off a sentence well, you're very likely to finish it well.


Toss around a foxtail ball toy for a while. Try throwing it by the lightweight, "kite" end instead of by the ball. Doesn't work, does it? The beginning of a piece of writing is like the ball that pulls the long strand of the rest of the "kite." What's up front gets things going.


As with most things - a race, a ball game, a musical performance, even a meal - the beginning is really important. So let's work on the beginning of our sentences in order to get off to the best possible start with our writing.


There are lots of ways to start a sentence that are good. But here are three ways that are BAD:






There is


If you catch yourself writing a sentence with any of those starts, slap yourself (lightly and humorously!) and start over.


A common error of student writers is to start every sentence with the word "The." You can find whole reports or papers in which every single BLASTED sentence starts with "The."


It's so monotonous! So don't be one of those clueless writers. Mix it up, with variety - the spice of life!


To prove this to yourself, listen in on people's conversations all day. Does anyone start even ONE sentence with "A," "The" or "There is"? Bet not. So don't!


Here's a challenge to help you create great starts for your sentences. When you finish these, you'll know TEN ways to start a sentence BESIDES with the word "The." That will be a good thing!



Take a piece of lined writing paper. Choose a writing topic: maybe what you did last weekend, what you're looking forward to, your pet, your favorite thing to do with a friend. Sticking to that same topic, write 10 sentences, following the pattern below. Number your sentences. Then share with others.


Sentence 1 -- Begin with a noun.
                       (Do not begin with The.) 


Sentence 2 -- Begin with an adjective.


Sentence 3 -- Begin with a phrase that tells when.


Sentence 4 -- Begin with a verb ending in -ing.


Sentence 5 -- Begin with a phrase that tells where.


Sentence 6 -- Begin with an interjection. 


Sentence 7 -- Begin with a phrase that tells how.


Sentence 8 -- Begin with an adverb ending in -ly.


Sentence 9 -- Begin with a preposition.

Examples: about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, by, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, instead f, into, like, near, of, off, on, on top of, onto out of, outside, over, past, since, through, to, toward, under, underneath, until, up, upon, with, within, without


Sentence 10 -- Begin with a verb ending in -ed.  



By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010


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