Hướng dẫn Viết Câu trong Tiếng Anh
Sentences are the foundation of storytelling — a good sentence can surprise, thrill, and enchant a reader — but good sentences are not easy to write. They take time, attentiveness, thought.
1. Quit using unnecessary instances of “which,” “as,” “with,” and “while,” and use modifiers instead
For example, the sentence, “I drove down the freeway, which made me feel carsick” suffers from the “which.” To smooth it out, take out the “which” and replace it with an -ing verb. “I drove down the freeway, feeling carsick.”
“The teacher cleaned her desk while listening to The Beatles.” → “The teacher cleaned her desk, listening to The Beatles.”
“She walked down the beach as the sun set over the ocean.” → “She walked down the beach, the sun setting over the ocean.”
“The woman walked the trail with her dog in her purse.” → “The woman walked the trail, carrying her dog in her purse.”
Using modifiers gives you improved economy of words, meaning you can lengthen and complicate your sentences without them becoming confusing (as long as you’re specific and use them to create a more vivid image for your reader.)
Here are the same sentences, expanded, using modifiers:
“I drove down the freeway, feeling carsick, thinking of the week ahead of me, the tedious paperwork, the endless nagging from my boss, fighting the urge to keep driving and never turn back.”
“The teacher cleaned her desk, listening to Jimi Hendrix, daydreaming of her time at Woodstock, her heart beating faster, thinking of the acid, the mud, and the men.”
“She walked down the beach, the sun setting over the ocean, seagulls flying in the clouds, a ship horn blaring in the distance.”
“The woman walked the trail, carrying her dog in her purple purse, an enormous Chanel, a purse capable of holding three dogs, a purse Carrie Bradshaw would have envied.”
2. Modifiers, Modifiers, Modifiers
Once you get used to writing -ing verbs, any sentence can have lovely rhythm, and a sentence of any length can be written.
Here’s a 100 word line from the essay, Me Before You.
“You’re good at putting on makeup, better than I am, holding the mirror with one hand, applying foundation with the other, spreading the creamy blend on your olive skin, dipping the thin brush into Sinful, a charcoal black, the most used shade in the palette, sweeping it over your eyelids before using the mascara, starting in the middle then wiggling the brush out to the sides — like I’ve taught you — lengthening your already long lashes.”
Each clause modifies the original independent clause of, “You’re good at putting on makeup.” And even though it’s 100 words, it’s grammatically correct and not a run-on because all the modifying verbs end in “-ing.” Each clause adds specificity and something new to the original clause.
If used poorly, cumulative sentences can easily become confusing and feel unnecessary. Remember — you’re trying to create a more specific and clear picture for your reader.
3. Quit using the word “that”
“That” is often unnecessary, and it’s a sentence clogger.
Take the sentence, “My pulse quickens when I see that she’s holding the other phone.” Read it without “that” — “My pulse quickens when I see she’s holding the other phone.” It’s faster and sharper. Occasionally, “that” will be necessary, but usually only when it’s pointing out something specific, such as: “She’s using that phone to call him,” or showing what something does, “She has hair that hangs to her waist.”
4. Use Assonance and Alliteration
From the essay, When We Played The Legend of Zelda:
“We sat on your tweed couch, the parrot perched on your shoulder, and you handed me the controller, so I could catch a fish.”
Alliteration — parrot and perched
Assonance — shoulder and controller
I could’ve written,“We sat on your tweed couch while the parrot sat by your arm and then you handed me the gamepad, so I could catch a fish.” But I specifically chose words which had assonance and alliteration.
5. Sometimes Shorter is Better
Short sentences can pack a punch. They can create tension. They can be beautiful and rhythmic. They also stand out more when surrounded by longer sentences.
From When We Played The Legend of Zelda:
“He stopped picking his feathers and I stopped crying.” — balanced with the words “picking” and “crying.”
From a story where the narrator was about to be kidnapped:
“The screen door kicked open. He walked in. The jar of pickles fell from my hands.”
Because of their brevity, each sentence feels heavy. And each one builds on the next.
6. Read Your Sentences Aloud
If the words sound clunky coming out of your mouth, then they read clunky too.
And if they are clunky, you likely have unnecessary instances of “which,” “as,” “while,” and “that” — an issue easily fixed by the use of modifiers.
Vary your sentence lengths. Don’t have entire paragraphs of long cumulative sentences. Give your reader variety. Think about choosing words that sound good together.
Think about your reader. Please their eyes and their ears.