While there are many ways to improve one's writing skills, beginning sentences with adjectival phrases is one of the easiest ways to make writing immediately more interesting. Teachers and professors continually admonish their students to write in an active voice, an order that often comes across as unclear and vague. By learning how to create adjectival phrases and begin sentences with them, sentences almost automatically become active. It does take some practice, and may feel a bit awkward initially, but with repetition the new sentence structure will come naturally.
- Skill level:
Write a general sentence with one adjective in the sentence. Simple sentences are the easiest way to begin practicing. An example: "The bird swept its auburn wings into the sky." For the example, auburn is the adjective. An adjective is any word that describes a noun. In this case, wings is the noun (person, place, thing, or idea) modified by auburn the adjective (a descriptive phrase).
Separate the adjective from the rest of the sentence. Therefore, here take auburn and consider how to modify the fact that the wings are auburn with a phrase. According to the Writing Centre at the University of Ottowa, and adjective phrase is "any phrase which modifies a noun or pronoun." (Reference 1) It can be as simple as changing auburn wings to wings of auburn.
Arrange the words so they appropriately begin the sentence. The initial sentence was: "The bird swept its auburn wings into the sky." To begin the sentence with an adjective phrase, auburn wings must somehow move to the front: "Wings of auburn swept into the sky as the bird took flight."
Write sample sentences. Start out with a list of three simple sentences. Find and separate the adjective and its noun, and then practice placing the adjective at the beginning of the sentence. Once you feel comfortable reworking simple sentences, move on to more complex and longer phrases.
Create more intricate adjective phrases once you are comfortable. Adjective phrases do not have to simply consist of a few words. Take the sentence, "The sad man took his broken umbrella to the store, but they would not give him a refund." There are two different adjectives in the sentence, sad and broken. To make a more sophisticated sentence, move broken to the front: "Broken umbrella in hand, the sad man walked to the store but could not get a refund."
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