Monday, February 08, 2010

Sentence Imitation

Lately I've been on the search for sentences that might be used with students for sentence imitation writing exercises. The sentence below is an example of a simple sentence that has been expanded with parallel participial phrases and adjectives.

The bald eagle, seen at the apex of flight, serenely perched on a tree, or boldly diving toward prey, is at once fierce, majestic, powerful, and independent.
--Variation on U.S. Department of the Interior, "Bald Eagles of Wolflodge Bay"

The kernel of the sentence is predicate adjective: The eagle is fierce.

Students don't necessarily need it, but the basic formula of the sentence is something like this:

Adj Noun (Subject) + participial phrase + adv + participial phrase + adv + participial phrase + form of ‘to be’ verb + four adjectives

This sentence demonstrates to students how using parallelism and participial phrases can add a lot of interesting detail and variety, even to a simple sentence.

Here are a couple of possible imitations:

The puzzled freshman, seen in the bustle of the cafeteria, quizzically examining the salad bar, or cluelessly searching for a place to sit, is strange, pathetic, embarrassing and annoying.

The stray dog, limping down the alley, loudly panting and desperately foraging is sad, lonely, lost, and hungry.

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