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Qualities of a good sentence


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This article describes about the Qualities of a good sentence. Read this article to know about the qualities of good sentence like unity, clearness, coherence and emphasis.



Qualities of a good sentence

The essential qualities of a good sentence are
(1) Unity
(2) Clearness & Coherence
(3) Emphasis


1. Unity :

Unity is a natural demand of the human mind. Unity in a sentence consists in the presentation of just so much thought as the reader will immediately feel to belong together. Unity is most easily achieved in the simple sentence. But it becomes difficult to preserve unity in a long compound or complex sentence. In a compound sentence two or more separate and independent thoughts are joined together and the danger to unity is naturally great. In the sentence, ‘The sun rises in the east, the boys play in the fields and a dog barks somewhere’ we have no unity, as these three clauses have no relation whatsoever with each other. Note the following examples where the law of unity has been violated :-
(a) The action took place near Dalhousie square, which was named in memory of the celebrated Viceroy.
(b) “In this uneasy state, both of his public and private life, Cicero was oppressed by a new and cruel affliction, the death of his daughter Tullia, which happened soon after her divorce from Dolabella whose manner and humours were entirely disagreeable to her.”
(c) The villagers in Bengal wear no shoes and grow rice and jut.

We notice that incongruous ideas or irrelevant things have been introduced in the sentences above.

In order to achieve unity we should observe a few rules :-

(a) Avoid the introduction of any matter into a sentence which has no definite bearing on the main thought. Parenthesis which do not illumine the main thought, should be especially avoided.
(b) Avoid the needless stringing together of incongruous ideas by and’s and but’s.


2. Clearness and Coherence :

The quality of clearness is thought to exist in a sentence when its main thought is easily seized and there is no ambiguity. Many things are hostile to clearness.

(a) The improper use of participial phrases in which the participle is left suspended, i.e. without a subject : ‘Though not wishing to emphasize,this point is deserving of the consideration of all’ etc.
(b) The improper use of comparative clauses : ‘Lahore is nearer Delhi than Saharanpur.’ What does the sentence mean ? ‘ Lahore is nearer to Delhi than to Saharanpur’ or ‘Lahore is nearer to Delhi than Sahranpur is’ ?
(c) Careless arrangement of words in a sentence is a fruitful source of ambiguity. In the sentence ‘He kept all that he earned in the bank by his work.’

One golden rule for attaining clearness and coherence is to avoid all kinds of ambiguity :-

(i) I perceive the work has been done with half an eye.
(ii) The king was not less desirous of destroying the traitors than his officers.


3. Emphasis :

Emphasis makes a writer’s intention vivid and clear. In writing emphasis is obtained by (a) a change in normal word-order
(c) by typographical devices as italicising, capitalising, thick or spaced printing, headlines etc. These devices have their uses, but should not be too frequently used.

A change in word order in order to obtain emphasis can always be recommended, provided such a change is not too frequently repeated. The normal word order in a Simple Sentence is : Subject, Verb, Object or Complement. Take the sentence, ‘The question of appointing a new man comes first on our agenda.’ We can secure emphasis by changing the world order thus : ‘First on our agenda comes the question of appointing a new man.’ Note the following examples of Emphasis thus secured :-

Unemphasised – I have never seen the like.
Emphasised – Never have seen the like.

It should be realized that the emphatic positions in a sentence are the beginning and the end.
At times emphasis is secured by repetition. Note the sentence are the beginning and the end.


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Responses to "Qualities of a good sentence"
Guest Author: ANIYIKAYE Charles Ta     31 Jul 2014
You really explained it to the root of the matter. Keep it up.


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