Sentence Structure

Passive Voice. Fine Lines recommends that writers use active rather than passive voice for concise, direct sentences. Active voice has the subject performing the action of the verb; whereas, in passive voice, the object precedes the verb.

Active Voice: John threw the ball.

Passive Voice: The ball was thrown by John.

This does not mean, however, that writers should completely discard the passive voice.

Subject-Verb Agreement. Write so that subjects and verbs agree:

Incorrect: The boys throws the ball.

Correct: The boys throw the ball.

A verb should always agree with the number of its subject. When words and phrases come between the subject and the verb, the verb should not be affected.

Example: Each of the boys dressed in his own unique way.

Furthermore, the words each, either, everyone, everybody, neither, nobody, and someone all use a singular verb form.

When connecting nouns to a singular subject with except, together with, as well as, with, no less than, and in addition to, use a singular verb.

Example: Her typing as well as her attitude was impeccable.

Pronoun Shifts. Use consistent pronouns (I, she/he, one, and so on) throughout sentences and paragraphs.

Incorrect: When Kim eats at a fast food restaurant, one should not expect prime rib.

Correct: When Kim eats at a fast food restaurant, she should not expect prime rib.