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Sentence Openers - A Variety of Colors

Sentence Openers - A Variety of Colors

Author: Jill Walter

    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 - Add Variety!

Learn what sentences openers are, how you can use them, and why they are beneficial for your audience.

Source: Jill Walter

Sentence Opener Options

Listen to learn about what choices you have as a writer in adding variety to your written work.

Source: Jill Walter

Standard order of sentences versus using VARIETY

The Purpose of INVERSION and FRONTING in Writing

In order to best engage our readers, we want to always keep them guessing not just with our content but with our choices of words and our choices of how to organize our sentencing.  This has to do with the syntax of our writing.

The standard order of a sentence will follow the pattern of S+V (subject + verb).  Every sentence must have a subject and verb.  

When beginning writers think of this standard order (S+V) and the subject leading the way, most often nouns are used.  When another part of the sentence is moved from where it normally is in the sentence to the front, we call it fronting or inversion.  This new piece of the sentence moved to the front might be the object of a sentence, the compliment of the sentence or even the main verb found in the sentence itself.  It's all about the craft of the writer. 


  • Go.  - - (You is understood and is the subject and go is the verb)
  • She enjoyed the film's storyline.  (She is the subject while enjoyed is the verb)

Most sentences will use this pattern.  In order to add better craft to our writing, it is better to vary this order.  We do not always have to start with the subject of the sentence.  We can use other ways to open our sentences.  

One way is to invert (or switch) the subject and the verb.  In this case, the order would be V + S (verb + subject).  We can see this done most easily with the writing of questions and even when using prepositional phrases to begin our sentences.


  • What did you want to do today?** (did want is the verb and you is the subject)
  • Off the diving board jumped the boy.** (jumped is the verb and boy is the subject)

**Notice that the standard order of S+V is not used.

More examples of prepositional phrases that begin a sentence:

  • Out the porthole peeked the ship's captain.
  • On the table sits my supper.
  • In the staircase was her book.

Examples of fronting with other parts of speech:

  • Never have I seen such well-mannered children.
  • Rarely do I eat dessert first.
  • Gone were the days of hitting snooze on the alarm clock.
  • Next to the nightstand sat my novel.

Inversion and fronting are helpful ways to look at revising writing and making sentence openers pop out and add color to the writing!  

Source: Jill Walter

Helpful Resources for Sentence Openers

Source: Jill Walter