Sentence Structures

Sentence Structures refer to grammatical and syntactical complexity.  Rigorous texts demonstrate grammatical complexity through longer sentences and may include multiple clauses, figurative language, and/or implicit meanings.  Syntactical complexity relates to “book language” versus “conversational language”.  An example of book language is as follows:

The dog scurried up to the girl, her tail wagging happily.

In conversation, one might say, “The dog ran up to the girl.  The dog was so happy, she was wagging her tail.”

The first sentence might present a challenge to readers because, syntactically, it sounds unusual.  Spoken language typically contains shorter sentences with fewer clauses.  Also, spoken language includes additional supports such as tone, expression, and physical gestures.  Authors must utilize descriptive language and complex sentences in order to convey the same message in written language.

Text complexity grows as students progress through the grade levels.  Repeated exposure to increasingly complex sentences, in addition to explicit instruction on how to process the meaning of these sentences, is crucial.