Varying Word Order in Sentences

Instead of beginning every sentence with the subject, try beginning with a modifier, an appositive, or the main verb. You can also try delaying completion of your main statement, or try interrupting sentences with parenthetical elements. Look at the following examples.

Begin with a single‐word modifier.

Suddenly the wind rushed into the room.
INSTEAD OF The wind suddenly rushed into the room.

Begin with a modifying phrase or clause.

Unregulated and accessible to all, the Internet is a powerful tool.
INSTEAD OF The Internet, unregulated and accessible to all, is a powerful tool.
In front of an audience, she was a star.
INSTEAD OF She was a star in front of an audience.
When the manager told me what the apartment cost, I decided living at home with Mom and Dad wasn't so bad.
INSTEAD OF I decided living at home with Mom and Dad wasn't so bad when the manager told me what the apartment cost.

Begin with an appositive.

A frequently misdiagnosed condition, iron overload can lead to serious diseases.
INSTEAD OF Iron overload, a frequently misdiagnosed condition, can lead to serious diseases.

Put the verb before the subject.

On the narrow trail ahead of him stood a huge bear.
INSTEAD OF A huge bear stood on the narrow trail ahead of him.
Greater than the novel's shortcomings are its strengths.
INSTEAD OF The novel's strengths are greater than its shortcomings.

Delay completing your main statement.

We saw the ballot measure, so important to the students, the faculty, and everyone in the community, lose by a one‐percent margin.
INSTEAD OF We saw the ballot measure lose by a one‐percent margin even though it was so important to the students, the faculty, and everyone in the community.

Insert an interruption—a surprise element—in a sentence. Use parentheses or dashes.

My home town— it's more like a village than a town—recently acquired its first traffic light.

Never sacrifice meaning or clarity for variety, however. Any technique you use for sentence variety will be self‐defeating if you use it too often in a short piece of writing.