In order for business communication to be effective, it is critical that the message has a well-developed sentence structure. Poor writing skills are a detriment to communication and will cause employees to have difficulty in moving up the corporate ladder.
As a college professor, I have found that many students have problems writing papers because they have not grasped the basic mechanics of writing a well-built sentence. In addition, I have found that teaching how to write effective sentences can be a challenge in the classroom. Many students find it dry, boring and end up drooling on their desks.
One idea I present in class is to look at building a sentence as constructing a puzzle. Perhaps by looking at constructing appropriate sentences as a challenge will cause you to have more interest in developing the writing skill. Let's look at how the puzzle challenge works. The correct puzzle pieces are needed in order to make an effective sentence. Each puzzle piece will be a subject, predicate, main clause/independent clause or dependent clause. We will use the puzzle pieces to explain how to put together each of the following four sentences: simple, compound, complex-sentence and compound-complex sentence.
A simple sentence has one main clause, which contains a simple subject - a person, place, thing - and a predicate - the verb or verb phrase. A simple sentence can be expanded by adding pronouns - such as them, her/him - or nouns. Let's take a look at a simple sentence with the two puzzle pieces of subject and predicate.
Julia ran fast down the city street.
The word 'Julia' would be the subject, and 'ran' would be the predicate.
A compound sentence is made up of two puzzle pieces or two main clauses (both independent and both equally important). Let's take a look at an example.
Julia ran fast down the street, and Nick peddled his bike.
Both of the clauses before and after the comma could stand independently as complete sentences. This type of sentence is excellent to use to show two independent thoughts or ideas.
A third type of sentence structure is a complex-sentence, which contains one main clause and one subordinate clause or dependent clause. A subordinate clause or dependent clause is a collection of words following a main clause that begins with a conjunction or verb and does not form a complete sentence. Here is an example:
Julia ran fast down the street and avoided many puddles.
The independent clause is 'Julia ran fast down the street,' and the dependent clause is 'avoided many puddles'. 'Julia ran fast down the street' would be the first puzzle piece, and the second puzzle piece is 'and avoided many puddles.' The dependent clause would not be able to exist as a full sentence without the independent clause. 'Avoided many puddles' is not a full sentence because it is lacking a subject.
The last type of sentence structure is a compound-complex sentence, which contains two main clauses and at least one dependent clause. An example of this type of sentence would be:
Julia went to school, but Sammy stayed at home because he had the flu.
'Julia went to school' is the first main clause (independent clause) and the first puzzle piece, and 'Sammy stayed at home' is the second independent clause and the second puzzle piece. Finally, 'because he had the flu' would be a dependent clause and the third puzzle piece.
In order to make your business writing fluid and professional, it is best to use a mix of all four types of sentence structures. Some students prefer to write with all simple sentences, and their work seems stifled and unconnected. Other students write with all compound-complex sentences, and their papers are too complicated, tedious and can end up with long run-on sentences. Varying the sentence style will allow you to be successful in writing business communications.
Effective business communication hinges on well-developed writing that uses a variety of sentence structures. There are four different types of sentences that can be used to craft a coherent and effective message.
- Simple sentence : has one main clause, which contains a simple subject - a person, place, thing - and a predicate - the verb or verb phrase
- Compound sentence: has two main clauses (both independent and both equally important) and are separated by a comma
- Complex-sentence: contains one main clause and one subordinate clause or dependent clause
- Compound-complex sentence: contains two main clauses and at least one dependent clause
Every sentence should be created to best represent an idea or communicate a message. Thinking of a sentence as puzzle pieces will ensure your sentences are correct, complete and professional for the workplace.
This video should help you to:
- Understand the importance of well-developed sentences in business communication
- Identify simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences and compound-complex sentences
- Demonstrate how to use all four types of sentence structures to better your written communication
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