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Sentence and Clause Arrangement for Emphasis

Summary:

This handout provides information on visual and textual devices for adding emphasis to your writing including textual formatting, punctuation, sentence structure, and the arrangement of words.

Contributors:Dana Lynn Driscoll, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-17 05:36:16

Sentence Position and Variation for Achieving Emphasis

An abrupt short sentence following a long sentence or a sequence of long sentences is often emphatic. For example, compare the following paragraphs. The second version emphasizes an important idea by placing it in an independent clause and placing it at the end of the paragraph:

For a long time, but not any more, Japanese corporations used Southeast Asia merely as a cheap source of raw materials, as a place to dump outdated equipment and overstocked merchandise, and as a training ground for junior executives who needed minor league experience.

For a long time Japanese corporations used Southeast Asia merely as a cheap source of raw materials, as a place to dump outdated equipment and overstocked merchandise, and as a training ground for junior executives who needed minor league experience. But those days have ended.

Varying a sentence by using a question after a series of statements is another way of achieving emphasis.

The increased number of joggers, the booming sales of exercise bicycles and other physical training devices, the record number of entrants in marathon races—all clearly indicate the growing belief among Americans that strenuous, prolonged exercise is good for their health. But is it?

Arrangement of Clauses for Achieving Emphasis

Since the terminal position in the sentence carries the most weight and since the main clause is more emphatic than a subordinate clause in a complex sentence, writers often place the subordinate clause before the main clause to give maximal emphasis to the main clause. For example:

I believe both of these applicants are superb even though it's hard to find good secretaries nowadays.

Even though it's hard to find good secretaries nowadays, I believe both of these applicants are superb.

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