Grammar Sentences

The following is a list of mentor sentences used to show the sentence types we may work with throughout the year. Use these in conjunction with your notes to help yourself learn how to craft sentences in an effective way.

The Opener: a dependent clause before an independent clause

When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it’s not reasonable to grieve when it comes to the end. –Twilight

When it’s time for me to go to school, I make her a bed of straw in a sunny corner of the porch. – Sold (5)

As Kalitka was trying to pick up Chris’s scent in California, McCandless was already far away… – Into the Wild (32)

So when the daughter of Umuofia was killed in Mbaino, Ikemefuna came in Okonkwo’s household. – Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (13)

When she reached the old stone wall that marked the top of the upper pasture, she paused again. – Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain (61)

After we had been given new clothes, we were installed in two tents. – Elie Weisel, Night (45)

“If the computer teacher is talking to me this year, you can use the lab for computer-aided designs.” – Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak (12)

Although there was evening brightness showing through the windows of the bunk house, inside it was dusk. – George Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men (38)

The Interrupter: offers further, but not necessarily needed, information about an object in the sentence. Think of it as an "oh by the way" type phrase. NOTE: can also come at beginning or end of the sentence.

The first male into the clearing fell back immediately, allowing the other male to take the front, orienting himself around the tall, dark-haired man in a manner that clearly displayed who led the pack. –Twilight (374)

My stepfather dozes in the shade, wearing nothing but a loincloth, too hot even to climb the hill to his card game. – Sold (20)

Jim Gallien had driven four miles out of Fairbanks when he spotted the hitchhiker standing in the snow beside the road, thumb raised high, shivering in the gray Alaska dawn. – Into the Wild (3)

His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper… – Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (12)

She had spent that night in the Swangers’ house, lying wide awake and dry eyed, thinking for a long time that she wished she could have gone before Monroe… – Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain (39)

These optimistic speeches, which no one believed, helped to pass the time. – Elie Weisel, Night (18)

Lennie, who had been watching, imitated George exactly. – George Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men (4)

The Fragment: although not grammatically correct, can be used in creative writing as a way to create definitive pauses or emphasis. They are incomplete because there is not a subject and a verb.

Then the baby awakes. And with each drip and plink and plop and ping he laughs and claps his hands. Each drip new. – Sold (26)

That would be the sort of thing that would grow in this river, Inman figured. Monstrous flabby fish with meat as slack as fatback. – Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain (87)

Silence again. – Elie Weisel, Night (23)

They look at her and see future State Championships. Pay raises. – Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak (19)

The Compound Sentence: joins two or more sentences together. Refer to your notes on the different ways to punctuate these.

His voice was very quiet; I strained to catch the words. –Twilight (332)

It is only midmorning, well before the customers usually arrive, but a wealthy man with fine cloths and a shiny gold watch has come to the door. – Sold (229)

Detrital Wash extends some fifty miles from Lake Mead into the mountains north of Kingman; it drains a big chunk of the country. - – Into the Wild (27)

Amalinze was a wily craftsman, but Okonkwo was as slippery as a fish in water. – Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (3)

Through the open door came the thuds and occasional clangs of a horseshoe game, and now and then the sound of voices raised in approval or derision. – George Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men (38)

The men skipped and dodged about to avoid the long blade, but soon they regrouped and swarmed again. – Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain (76)

Lying down was out of the question, and we were only able to sit by deciding to take turns. – Elie Weisel, Night (21)

A fist withdrew and came back like a piston, so that the whole shelter exploded into light. – William Golding, Lord of the Flies (167)

The Absolute: a phrase that modifies or adds description to an independent clause.

Sometimes he gazed into the setting sun, sometimes he glanced at me – my face, my hair blowing out the open window, our hands entwined together. –Twilight (286)

She twirls him in the air, her skirts flying around her ankles the war the clouds swirl around the mountain cap. – Sold (26)

He walked drearily between the trunks, his face empty of expression, and the blood was dry round his mouth and chin. – William Golding, Lord of the Flies (145-146)

The Appositive: like an interrupter, it renames another noun in the sentence.

There is the tiny one, Muthi, which means “size of a handful.” – Sold (13)

Ken Thompson, the owner of the Anchorage auto-body shop, Gordon Samel, his employee, and their Friend Ferdie Sawnson, a construction worker, set out for the bus on September 6, 1992… – Into the Wild (11)

Many years ago when Okonkwo was still a boy his father, Unoka, had gone to consult Agbala. – Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

And Moshe the Beadle, the poor barefoot of Sighet, talked to me for long hours of the revelations and mysteries of the cabbala. – Elie Weisel, Night (3)

The Dash: a more appropriate way to use parentheses, this adds an aside that may not be important to the sentence like an interrupter is, but the writer still wants to share.

I’d never given much thought to how I would die – though I’d had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this. –Twilight(1)

I awoke today – before even the hen had begun to stir –aware of a change in myself. – Sold (14)

Although the tone of the journal – written in third person in a stilted, self-consciousness voice – often veers toward melodrama, the available evidence indicates that McCandless did not misrepresent the facts… – Into the Wild (29)

There was joy – yes, joy. Elie Weisel, Night (14)

I see a few friends – people I used to think were my friends – but they look away. – Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak (8)

Some ardor of the air which was causing the veteran commands to move with glee – almost with song – had infected the new regiment. – Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (17)