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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: English Composition Manifesto: Normal Prose

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we want to present our idea of what

english composition classes ought to be

about let's start out with something we

think they ought not to be about that is

the categorization of sentences into

four types for the purposes of promoting

varied sentence structure and Orson

tactical maturity that is one of the

pervasive ideas we see is that students

should be encouraged to write sentences

of each of these four types simple

complex compound and compound-complex

and that doing so and mixing them up and

alternating between them will give their

writing and arrow sophistication and

maturity and it will make their writing

more readable none of this is true we

can see why if we just look at what the

categories mean a simple category s

simple sentence that's a sentence that

has an one independent clause and nosa

and no subordinate clause and so you get

icy ice cream as an example of a simple

sentence complex sentence is the name is

rather misleading there's nothing

particularly complex about it a complex

sentence contains a dependent clause so

icy ice cream that has sprinkles on it

that has sprinkles on it is the

dependent clause the compound sentence

has two or more independent clauses in

it so icy ice cream and I want some now

that's a compound sentence and the you

know the Cadillac of this this

categorization system the most complex

the most the one of the pinnacle is the

compound complex that is it has two or

more independent clauses in it and it

has a dependent clause in it and here's

an example of that I see ice cream that

has sprinkles on it and I want some nap

well there's nothing particularly

complex about it there's nothing

sophisticated about it all four of these

kinds of sentences are part of normal

everyday speech students already know

how to use them it actually doesn't have

much of anything to do with effective

writing we put things a little different

we say that what we are after is normal

prose that is we want students to

produce normal prose and normal prose is

characterized by some structures that

are really pretty specific to writing

that is they are things that are not

part of everyday speech at least not

very frequently part of everyday speech

one of the things is breaking the main

clause normally once you start once

you've done you're finished with any

introductory material and you start your

main clause that is the meat potatoes of

the sentence you don't stop until you

get to the end and student writing is

characterized by that that aspect of

spoken English that is once they start

with the main Clause they generally

never stop they don't know how to get

out of it they don't know how to break

it or interrupt it but interrupting the

main Clause is a key aspect of normal

prose so as soon as you do that you

immediately elevate the sound of the

sentence even if the break that you're

introducing into the sentence is very

very simple so for example I want ice

cream my sister however does not just

the breaking of the main Clause with

that however elevates the pros oh man

Jefferson wrote are created equal notice

here that's something that most students

will be able to handle easily that is

putting a tag or a signaling phrase in

the sentence saying who is responsible

for these words putting just that little

tag in the middle of the clause rather

than before it as most students would

again elevates the pros instead of

writing Jefferson wrote all men are

created equal if you write all men

Jefferson wrote are created equal you

have produced

a writer Lee sentence one that that is

characteristic of normal prose candy on

the other hand is dandy so again this is

a very simple structure that's been

introduced but it elevates the pros to

other specific more specific things that

that we focus on our participial phrase

is set off from the main clause and

non-restrictive appositives first let's

look at the participial phrases my

friend forgetting his manners refused to

answer again this is something you would

almost never say you would never have

put it that way you would probably say

my friend forgot his manners and didn't

answer but by turning that Clause into a

participial phrase and on top of that

breaking the main clause with it you

have produced a writer of the sentence

here the main Clause is not broken but

you still have a participial phrase that

is set off of the main clause and that

too makes it sound elevated arriving

like our host apologized and by the way

the point is not just to sound fancy

this actually makes for easier reading

and allows you to make your writing more

dense you don't have to you don't have

to have a whole bunch of chopping little

independent clauses you can turn these

clauses into phrases instead so the

parts of your friends set off from the

main Clause and the non-restrictive a

positive that is likewise set off with

commas so again this is totally the

content of these is very simple but they

are right early they sound as if well

they are ready they do not sound like

speech they expect they sound like

normal prose my favorite drink pink

lemonade is on sale a fan of box turtles

gavel regularly tramps the woods where

they work so fan of box turtles that's

our positive when it doesn't break the

main clause but it still actually wins a

great air air of sophistication and

density to that sentence pink lemonade

does break the main clause here's

another one that breaks the main clause

potterville a town to the west is

enjoying boom times here are while here

is an example of normal prose taken from

a newspaper and this is what normal pros

looks like i have highlighted the parts

of your phrases that separated by commas

out from the main clause so that's

that's that one right there and Sundays

first round they deserted him voting

instead for the party's own candidate

marine lepen and that's an appositive

she got eighteen percent a record for

her paws at the fur her party that's

another positive her father jomari lip

balm that's another positive notice at

the very bottom here which way the angry

voters of France term from both the far

left and the far right will decide the

election that break of the main Clause

of the prepositional phrase that's also

something we would count as a

characteristic of normal pros here's

another example here the ratio is a

little different do we have in the

previous one we have more positives than

parts of the phrases here it's more

equal but the point is that this is what

normal pros looks like and if you put

students riding up

on the board and treat it is the same

way you would highlight nothing because

generally there will be no interruptions

of the main Clause the main clauses

would not be broken there would be no

parts of your phrase except set off by

commas there will be no non-restrictive

a positive set off by commas so this

isn't you can actually simply show them

without resorting to vague complaints

about lack of flow or shop enos you can

show them very simply that they're not

writing the legal normal prose so to sum

up the primary goal in our view of

English composition classes should be to

get students in the position so they can

write normal prose and normal prose is

characterized by the occasional use of

participial phrases and non-restrictive

a positive set off by commas and

heartbroken main clauses that's normal

prose that's what should be the goal of

English composition courses

The Description of English Composition Manifesto: Normal Prose