How to Vary Sentence Beginnings

How to Vary Sentence Beginnings

You probably haven't read very many things where all of the sentences have the same structure. That's because tedious language and repetition can get boring. Great writers begin their sentences in a variety of ways to avoid monotony. Using too many sentences that begin in the same way not only leads to a choppy writing style—it gives bored readers an excuse to stop reading. You want people to read your writing, right?

Think creatively and rearrange the order of your words so your sentences read with freshness and pizazz. This is less difficult than it sounds. Fortunately, writers that came before you have mapped out a variety of sentence patterns already. You can use their techniques to give your sentences more luster.

Before you start, be careful that your tone matches its context. Use academic phrases sparingly when composing a creative piece.

  • Grammar handbook

1 Keep it Simple

Just because a sentence is a "simple" sentence doesn't mean it has to be boring. To write a strong simple sentence, start with a subject, followed by a verb.

Example: Hummingbirds love bright flowers.

Example: My dog likes to go on long walks.

You can also use an infinitive phrase as a subject.

Example: To get a head start was his goal.

Example: To become a doctor was her life's work.

Begin a sentence with a prepositional phrase and end it with the subject:

Example: From out of nowhere came a loud shriek.

Example: Out of the darkness stalked a wolf.

Vocabulary Builder

2 Start with a Clause

Reverse the sentence to begin with the dependent adverbial clause:

Example: Because birds eat the seeds, weeds are important too.

Example: Since kangaroos are marsupials, they are also mammals.

Begin a sentence with an infinitive phrase used as an adjective:

Example: To get a head start, he arrived 20 minutes early.

Example: To climb the mountain, she had to train for years.

Begin a sentence with an adjective:

Example: Sad about being alone in the house, the puppy lay down and waited by the front door.

Example: Happy to help, the boy set the table.

Begin with an "ing" participial phrase:

Example: Muttering to himself, the old man shuffled throughout the house.

Example: Flying above the houses, the bird swooped and banked.

Begin with an "ed" participial phrase:

Example: Angered by the long wait, I slammed the phone down on the receiver.

Example: Delighted to be invited to the party, she put on her best dress.

3 Start with Something Short

Begin with an adverb:

Regretfully, I will not be able to attend the wedding.

Example: Dutifully, he cleaned his room.

Start with a transitional word:

Example: First they looked at the map.

Example: Finally, we found the lost keys.

Begin a sentence with an appositive:

Example: An obedient child, Samantha turned off the light and went to sleep.

Example: A fluffy dog, Francis needed to be brushed every night.

Ann Moore has been an English instructor for over 20 years and started writing professionally in 2011. After teaching junior high and high school, she now teaches writing at Florence-Darlington Technical College in Florence, South Carolina. Moore enjoys writing articles about animals, education, culture and society, health and fitness, and home and garden. She received her Bachelor of Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University.