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Periodic Sentence Definition & Meaning

It is a straightforwardly understood declaration stating the main point, the independent clause “The bird soared upward,” at the beginning of the sentence. It is sometimes called a continuous style for its linear sequence, or train of thought. Loose sentences employ a literary technique called parataxis, from the Greek word “to place side by side.” They can be thought of as the opposite of periodic sentences. Every grammar book emphasizes on striking a balance when it comes to the length of a sentence. Neither a series of short, choppy sentences, nor long sentences that don’t seem to end are considered to be reader-friendly. A combination of short and long sentences is what will keep the reader interested.

  1. This linguistic technique creates a powerful effect by using dependent clauses to lead up to the independent clause, emphasizing the key message.
  2. As demonstrated above, periodic sentences generate intrigue by revealing their main point only after several dependent clauses.
  3. A periodic sentence creates an opposite structure by placing the main clause at the end of the sentence instead of at the front of it.

Simple sentences consist of one independent clause, expressing a complete thought or idea. Compound sentences, on the other hand, contain two or more independent clauses, typically joined by coordinating conjunctions, semicolons, or commas. Finally, compound-complex sentences are a blend of compound and complex structures, featuring at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. Periodic structure is a form of sentence writing in which readers have to wait till the end of the sentence in order to know what the main clause and/or predicate are.

By placing the independent clause at the end of the sentence, a periodic sentence ensures that readers are engaged and invested in the unfolding narrative. This deliberate arrangement contrasts sharply with other sentence structures, such as loose sentences, where the primary message or action is presented upfront and followed by additional details. On a concluding note, to be able to differentiate a loose sentence from a periodic sentence, you need to identify and locate the main/independent clause.

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By constructing sentences in this manner, writers can emphasize the climax of their message, delivering a powerful impact once the sentence reaches its resolution. Periodic sentences add emphasis and structural variety by presenting the central thought in the form of a main clause at the end of the sentence. Penlighten presents the structure, definition, and examples of periodic sentences to help you understand this concept. The concept and use of periodic sentences have roots dating back to literature from the late 19th century.

In case of a loose sentence, the central thought appears at or near the beginning of the sentence, whereas the central thought comes at the end in a periodic sentence. Loose sentences are straightforward as the main idea is at the beginning, followed by phrases, additional words, or clauses that expand the main idea. Periodic sentences keep the reader wrapped in suspense, delaying the main idea by presenting it after the additional details and modifying phrases. So, use them in moderation whenever you wish to build up suspense. The example sentence of the preceding paragraph is called a loose sentence.

Strunk and White’s Elements of Style suggests not overusing the loose sentence. To avoid monotony, they should be broken up with simpler sentences. Periodic structure is form of writing in which the main clause of the sentence, or its predicate, are held till the end of the sentence. All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only.

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A periodic sentence is a long and frequently involved sentence, marked by suspended syntax, in which the sense is not completed until the final word — often with an emphatic climax. A periodic sentence ends with the main clause, and a loose sentence begins with the main clause. These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word ‘periodic.’ Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. A periodic sentence creates an opposite structure by placing the main clause at the end of the sentence instead of at the front of it. As Felicity Nussbaum points out, a writer may use loose sentences to give “the impression of spontaneity and vernacular immediacy” (The Autobiographical Subject, 1995).

Because they postpone the central idea, periodic sentences appear more often in formal writing than in everyday speech, which tends to favor simple declarative sentences. These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word ‘periodic sentence.’ Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. The periodic sentence is one way of constructing complex sentences. Its descriptive name is in reference to the punctuation mark — period, or full stop — that designates the end of a declarative sentence. The defining characteristic of the periodic sentence is that its emphatic main point comes at the end.

Noticing her daughter’s passion, her mother signed her up for lessons with a well-known local instructor. Natasha’s trainer spotted her talent right away and patiently guided her to each next level of skill. https://business-accounting.net/ With so much focus, love, and support behind her, Natasha would become a pro ice skater soon after her seventeenth birthday. Beginning to skate when only five, Natasha gained comfort on the ice.

Consequently, readers are more likely to maintain their focus and recall the message communicated. Suspense plays a crucial part in captivating the audience, engaging their attention, and ensuring that the main idea leaves a lasting impression. The complex periodic sentence is typically used in more formal sentence construction; so, its usage is not as common today in verbal or periodic sentence definition written communication. This is used for emphasis and can be persuasive by putting reasons for something at the beginning before the final point is made. Professor Jeanne Fahnestock notes in “Rhetorical Style” that the distinction between periodic and loose sentences “begins with Aristotle, who described types of sentences on the basis of how ‘tight’ or how ‘open’ they sounded.”

Words that may be confused with periodic

In the vast domain of English grammar, we come across various sentence structures that reflect the diversity and richness of the language. One of the key types of sentences is the complex sentence, which contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause. By incorporating additional information, context, and details, complex sentences enable a more nuanced and intricate expression of thoughts and ideas.

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Now that you understand what periodic sentences are and how you can use them, you can apply them with proper balance and effect in your writing. In this case, adjusting some periodic structures to loose ones achieves nimble variation with less potential to divert the reader’s attention. By delaying the most important information, periodic sentences further underscore the central idea, often creating emphasis, suspense, or surprise. You can see how each sentence leads with the main thought and then provides extra description. If we omit the additional details, or if a reader glosses over them, the primary information we want conveyed will be intact, even if it lacks enhancing zest and insight.


All terms defined are created by a team of talented literary experts, to provide an in-depth look into literary terms and poetry, like no other. In this example, the central thought, Jason failed the test, is interrupted by the additional detail (who always stood first in the class), after which the thought is completed at the end of the sentence. He managed to reach his destination on time, despite the pouring rain, the lack of a proper umbrella, and the fierce gusts of wind threatening to knock him off balance. Despite the pouring rain, the lack of a proper umbrella, and the fierce gusts of wind threatening to knock him off balance, he managed to reach his destination on time. Kevin Miller is a growth marketer with an extensive background in Search Engine Optimization, paid acquisition and email marketing.

A loose sentence starts with the main idea (the independent clause) and then follows it with any details we wish to add for imagery and clarity. A loose sentence is a sentence structure in which the main clause is followed by one or more coordinate or subordinate phrases and clauses. Also known as a cumulative sentence or a right-branching sentence. Let’s begin by diving into the world of complex sentences and exploring the foundation upon which periodic sentences are built. It is mainly used to make the listener receptive and open to considering an idea before directly stating the idea. Writers use periodic sentences to justify claims or present evidence before stating the idea or claim at the end of the sentence.

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