AP English Notes

Essay Tips: Syntax - What to Say About It

I would recommend that you discuss syntax AFTER you have discussed the basics, diction, tone, and imagery. Alternatively, you might discuss syntax IN RELATION TO the basics. For example, you might discuss how the final lines in "The Crossing" convey-the sense of wonder in almost poetic form as the sentences are not really sentences at all, but are like the character's stream of consciousness.

Here are some guidelines.

When you see very long sentences, consider:

Is the author trying to replicate the physical movement of the character (as when McCarthy describes how the hunter in "The Crossing" carefully lowers the animal after cradling it in his arms, unwraps the body, and washes the blood off the sheet)?

Is the author trying to suggest confusion or simulate the rapid flow of ideas or emotions, as when Rachel silently and furiously denies that the sweater is hers?

Is the author piling on detail after detail to illustrate the enormity, weight, or extensiveness of something, like the enormous English breakfast and the extensiveness of English domination?

When you see very short sentences, consider:

Is the author trying to stress a key idea?

Is the author trying to sound objective and/or factual?

Is the author trying to convey anxiety or quicken the pace in contrast to longer, more complex ideas?

When you see parallelism ("on the sea, in the air, over the land...") consider:

Is the author trying to stress the sheer number of things?

Is the author trying to create rhythm, force, power?

Is the author trying to stir emotion? ("I have a dream ")

When you see repetition of key words or phrases ("Made in England"), consider:

Is the author trying to stress a key. idea?

Is the author using repetition to convey emotion, such as anger, bitterness, joy?


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How to cite this note (MLA)

Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Essay Tips: Syntax - What to Say About It" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 17 Nov. 2012. Web. 17 Oct. 2018. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/english/sample-essays/syntax-what-to-say-about-it/>.
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