How to write a killer sentence

Because not all sentences are created equal

Will Ellington
4 min readOct 19, 2021


Photo by Martin Zaenkert on Unsplash

What is a sentence?

A set of words that is complete in itself, usually containing a subject, a verb and an object: the cat sat on the mat.

It can be a statement, a question, an exclamation, or a command:

  • The cat sat on the mat.
  • Did the cat sit on the mat?
  • That cat’s sitting on the mat!
  • Sit on the mat, cat!

It usually has a main clause, but it can also have one or more subordinate clauses connected by a conjunction (and, but, if, when etc.):

  • The cat sat on the mat.
  • The cat sat on the mat whenever it felt hungry, sad or flat.

Changing the syntax (arrangement of words) of a sentence can radically alter its meaning:

  • The cat sat on the mat.
  • The mat sat on the cat.

We can give a sentence color, texture and movement with the help of adjectives and action verbs:

  • The rugged cat sat purring on the pink mat.

We can give a sentence rhythm and we can play with its internal sounds(alliteration, assonance):

  • The cat spent most of its time picking, poking, pouncing and purring on the mat.

Some sentences can open paragraphs (topic sentence) and some can close them (concluding sentence).

  • The history of the cat that sat on the mat can be divided into three main periods: the catatonic, the catalectic and the cataclysmic.
  • In sum, the crucial link between the periods of cats in the tortuous history of the cat that sat on the mat is black fur.

Inside a paragraph, sentences fit together like bricks in a wall.

They serve a common goal: communicating meaning to a reader.

Which brings me to a crucial point: some sentences help create context, precisely in order for other sentences to stand out.

Check out my workshop on writing with clarity for more on making your writing stand out.



Will Ellington

English teacher • London → Osaka • Film, literature and theatre fan • Topics: creativity, AI, apps, writing and Japan.