Simple declarative sentences are good things.
Muddled thinking causes misunderstandings. People understand each other better when they use more simple declarative sentences.
Simple declarative sentences force you to think through what you’re saying. It’s harder than it looks.
Anyone can over-complicate a clear thought. Reducing a sentence to its basic point is harder. I rewrote almost every sentence in this column to cut out unnecessary stuff.
(It also makes you write like Ernest Hemmingway. If I write, “...and then he died alone, in the rain,” slap me.)
Dr. Suess was a king of the simple declarative sentence. Everyone understands a Dr. Suess book. Lawyers should read more Dr. Suess.
The author of the Dick and Jane books was, too: “See Jane. See Spot. See Jane run. See Spot run. See Jane catch Spot. See Spot bite Jane. See Jane get a rabies shot. (Etc., etc.)”
I put in too many clauses when I write. Sometimes one of my sentences goes on for a whole paragraph. I have to read those sentences a couple times to understand them.
I gave myself a challenge. I want to be understood. I tried talking and writing in simple declarative sentences for a day.
Perhaps I shouldn’t print this week’s column until school starts. English teachers at the schools could show it to their students. They could say, “This is what a simple declarative sentence looks like.”
The students might reply, “That’s boring.” They might say, “That’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen.” I have no control over that.
Complex ideas can be expressed with simple declarative sentences:
• “Energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light.”
• “The function of the central nervous system is to produce muscle contractions.”
• “Space is not the final frontier.”
• “Most politicians leave office richer than they entered it.”
• “My blue shirt is in the washing machine.”
• “I love you.”
• “I’m sorry.”
• “Common sense isn’t.”
We need a new holiday. It could celebrate simple declarative sentences. We can call it “Clarity Day.”
There’s a problem with “Clarity Day.” Simple declarative sentences are sometimes misunderstood for what they really say.