Friday, February 5, 2010

Full Sentences. What's the Big Deal?

You were all once in junior high school, learning to build sentences. You know that a complete sentence has to have a subject and a verb, and can include an assortment of objects, clauses, phrases, appositives, and so forth. But, that was a long time ago. You may not have thought about sentences since.

There are four kinds of sentences:

Question (interrogative sentence)
Statement (declarative sentence)
Command (imperative sentence)
Exclamation (exclamatory sentence)

All kinds of sentences can be used during a speech, but one kind has special significance: the declarative sentence.

Whatever else you remember, remember this: The thesis statement and all main points in your speech should be simple, declarative sentences.

Foundation of a Speech

The thesis statement and main points constitute what we might call the foundation of the speech. Each must be presented as a full sentence. The thesis must be a simple sentence (no ands, ifs, or buts). You have a little more flexibility in the main point statements, but not much.

Example of a Speech Foundation Using Full Sentences

Thesis: “Strengthening the US/Mexico border will benefit all citizens.”

Main points:

“A stronger border will reduce smuggling.”
“A stronger border will cost you less in taxes and insurance.”
“A stronger border will build a better relationship between the two nations.”

Learning Activity

Look at the foundation (thesis and main points) of the speech you are now preparing. Are the thesis and main points presented as simple, declarative sentences? Work them over until they are.

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