Erasmus Exercise: Explained

In 1512, the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) published De Copia (meaning “on command of language” or “richness of expression”).  Erasmus’s book was one of the most influential rhetoric texts of the European Renaissance. One exercise in De Copia directs students to compose several hundred variations of one sentence.  This exercise has three purposes: (1)   …

Sentence Components: Parallelism & Sentence Layering

Parallelism is the repetition of a grammatical structure to emphasize a relationship between ideas. Parallelism gives balance, focus, and clarity to a sentence. Parallelism establishes a pattern of repetition that writers can manipulate to create a vast array of rhetorical effects. Examples: Writers can reinforce and emphasize their use of parallelism by repeating one or…

Sentence Components: Periodic & Cumulative Sentence, Absolute Phrase

USE A PERIODIC SENTENCE In a periodic sentence, descriptive elements (or details) introduce the sentence, pushing the complete thought to the end of the sentence. This pattern proves quite effective for emphasis or suspense because the most emphatic point of a sentence is the end.  Periodic sentences are usually long, complex sentences, the independent clause…

Essential (Restictive) Adjective vs. Non-Essential (Non-Restrictive) Adjective Clause

USE AN ESSENTIAL (RESTRICTIVE) ADJECTIVE A subordinate clause = a group of words with a subject and predicate, but dependent on the rest of the sentence to make sense. Essential (restrictive) = necessary or essential to meaning. An adjective = a word that modifies a noun or pronoun. An essential (restrictive) adjective clause = a…

Sentence Components: Adjective, Adjective Phrase, Verb

OPEN WITH AN ADJECTIVE An adjective describes or points out a noun or pronoun. It tells what kind, what color, what number, which one, whose. Adjectives allow distinguishing and specification. They add descriptive details. They also limit or make more definite the meaning of a key word. Typically, adjectives immediately precede the words they modify;…

Sentence Components: Anastrophe, Apposition, Adverbial Clause

WRITE A SENTENCE IN WHICH THE VERB PRECEDES THE SUBJECT (ANASTROPHE) Placing the verb before the subject in a sentence is also known as a form of “anastrophe,” the inversion of the natural word order (subject-verb-object) which dominates the English language.  The following sentences open with adverbs or prepositional phrases.  Notice that the verb precedes…

Sentence Components: Infinitive, Present participles, Gerunds

OPEN WITH AN INFINITIVE Verbals make sentences more active. The English language has three verbals: 1.  infinitives 2.  participles 3.  gerunds. Verbals are half-verb, half another part of speech.  Verbals look like verbs, but they function as another part of speech.  Verbals are half-verb, half another part of speech. Verbals may function as 1. nouns…

Sentence Components: Active Verbs, Adverbs, Prepositional Phrase

USE STRONG ACTIVE VERBS Strong active verbs bring life and description to your paper by more accurately identifying an action and by adding emphases, connotations, or by merely making a common phrase stand out. EXAMPLES 1. The tragic accident devastated the entire family. 2. The recorder intercepted many of the secret messages. 3. The author…

Conflict in Shakespeare’s Hamlet & A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet (1603) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1600), explore the theme of conflict and its repercussions, each play highlighting different aspects of the theme due to differences in genre and subject. Conflict, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one”, and would therefore seem to…

Colley Cibber’s Richard III: Summary & Analysis

Colley Cibber was a comic actor and playwright with pretensions to tragedy (Colley 17-18). In 1700, he wrote and performed in an altered and slightly abridged version of Shakespeare’s Richard III, which was initially unsuccessful (probably because of overzealous government censorship) (Ashley 52). However, it soon became popular enough to eclipse the Shakespearean original on…

Janet E. Smith’s Fig Leaves and Falsehoods: Summary & Analysis

In “Fig Leaves and Falsehoods,” Janet E. Smith argues against the consensus view of Catholic moralists who, following Aquinas, regard all deceptive speech as morally wrong.  She maintains that Aquinas’s view depends on an overly limited view of the purpose of speech, a view based on a prelapsarian order of things and neglectful of the…