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Sentence openers

Sentence openers

Author: Ryan Howard

    Introduce different types of sentence openers and give examples for how varying sentence openers can improve writing.  


    Compare standard order of sentences with inversion/fronting of prepositional phrases and other dependent clauses (e.g. In the woods, he built a cabin. vs. He build a cabin in the woods.)


This packet should help a learner seeking to understand English writing style and who is confused about how to vary sentence openers. It will explain how to connect clauses with subordinators. 

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Sentence Openers Video

A little more on sentence openers.

Activities for Sentence Openers

Looking back on what you have studied in the Powerpoint presentation and viewed in the video, create some opening sentences out of the following sentences.  Be creative!


Karl and Deanna were working on a figure drawing. 

Hawaii is the best place I have visited. 

John and Mary were finally married. 

I have never been to Canada.

You can have my car for the night.

I don't believe they would do something like that.

Your cats were running around in my backyard.

Van Gogh cut off his ear.

The United States was formed.

I collapsed in my bed.



Source: My Activity

Standard Sentences vs. Fronting/Inversion

We are all familiar with standard sentences, aren't we?  We have all seen sentences such as "The dog ran in the rain" or "Mrs. Schmidt gave us a test."  These are simple sentences that can be mundane and ordinary.  As readers, we get tired of the same thing.  Consider:


John worked on his science project all Sunday.  He knew it was due the following Monday.  He finished it by 11:00 Sunday night.  He turned in his project Monday afternoon and received an outstanding grade.  John was happy.  He went home to tell his parents. 

Seems pretty boring doesn't it?


Let's change a few things about it, using what we have learned in this lesson. 

 Knowing it was due the following Monday, John worked on his science project all Sunday.   By 11:00 that night, he finished it.  On Monday afternoon, he turned in his project and received an outstanding grade.  Happy, John went home to tell his parents.  

Using these clauses, it creates more focus on the topic.  As opposed to saying "He finished it by 11:00 Sunday night," saying "By 11:00 that night [Sunday], he finished it" gives more focus on what time John finished his science project. 


This process is called fronting, in which a word group that normally comes after the verb is placed at the beginning of the sentence. 


Let's look at a few more:


The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. 

By moving "in 1620" to the beginning of the sentence, it gives more importance on the year in which the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.

The artist painted feverishly with oils. 

If we move "feverishly" to the beginning of the sentence, we are given an idea of  the emotion of the artist painting.


Practice Sentence Fronting

Using what you have learned about fronting, modify the following sentences on a sheet of paper.


Joe trudged up the mountain fatigued. 


The cats ate their meal of fish heartily.


Mr. Menno choked eating a piece of shrimp.


You have to be at least 21 years old to drink alcohol. 


I do not know who is responsible for the death of the preacher. 


Jesse was cold even though it was 77 degrees outside.





Source: My Activity


Some examples of sentence openers include:

  • Adverb Openers
  • Adjective Openers
  • Past Participle
  • Present Participle
  • Nominative Absolutes
  • Interjections
  • Noun Clauses


Fronting a sentence allows more focus on the verb, adverb, prepositional phrase, etc.


Source: see above sections for sources