Guide to Literary Terms

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What is a loose, balanced, periodic, and cumulative sentence? And what are some examples?

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These sentence structures are commonly found in strong English writing. Writers employ these sentence forms for a specific purpose, and readers can identify them by their unique characteristics.

A loose or cumulative sentence begins with an independent clause and ends with phrases and/or clauses. The primary independent clause could live by itself as a sentence, but the writer chooses to add information to the sentence, usually to further develop the initial thought or action. The following example comes from Fyodor Dostoevsky. The bolded independent clause would stand as a complete sentence if a period were placed at the end.

I cannot endure the flunkeyishness of the newspapers of the whole world, and especially our Russian papers, in which, almost every spring, the journalists write articles upon two things: first, on the extraordinary magnificence and luxury of the gambling saloons on the Rhine, and secondly, on the heaps of gold which are said to lie on the tables.

A balanced sentence is...

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