Sentence appreciation

Sentence appreciation

The aim of the new How to Write a Sentence from Stanley Fish:

[T]o offer a guide to sentence craft and appreciation that is both deeper and more democratic. What, at base, is a sentence? he asks, and then goes on to argue that the standard answer based in parts of speech and rules of grammar teaches students “nothing about how to write”. Instead, we should be examining the “logical relationships” within different sentence forms to see how they organise the world. His argument is that you can learn to write and later become a good writer by understanding and imitating these forms from many different styles.


[I]f you’re drawn to Jonathan Swift’s biting satire in the sentence, “Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse,” then, Fish advises, “Put together two mildly affirmative assertions, the second of which reacts to the first in a way that is absurdly inadequate.”

Fish describes how he carries sentences with him “as others might carry a precious gem or a fine Swiss watch.” Over at Slate, they ask Professor Fish for some of his favorite accoutrements, and he offered five.

My favorite for now? “First, get the Pot.”