The Balanced Sentence

A balanced sentence consists of two parts roughly equivalent in both length and significance and divided by a pause:

In a few moments everything grew black, and the rain poured down like a cataract. Francis Parkrnan

Balanced elements may repeat the same idea, show cause and effect, precedence and subsequence, or any of other various relationships. Often balanced sentences develop a contrast; when the contrast is sharply pointed it is called an antithesis.

While balance can involve any kind of clause or phrase, it is most common with independent clauses, as in the example above, or in these:

Visit either you like; they're both mad. Lewis Carroll Children played about her; and she sang as she worked.

Rupert Brooke

These examples are compound sentences. Not all compound sentences, however, are balanced, nor are all balanced sentences compound. Balance requires simply that a sentence divides into roughly equal halves on either side of a central pause. This may occur even in a sentence that is not technically compound:

They read hardly at all, preferring to listen. George Cissing

Gissing's sentence is grammatically simple, the first half being the main clause and the second a participial phrase. Even so, it is balanced since the halves are about the same length (each has six syllables) and equally important.1 The examples thus far looked at exhibit elementary balance between two units (-1-). That pattern, however, may be varied in many ways. Sometimes one half is split again

1. Not everyone would agree to call such sentences balanced, arguing that balanced constructions must be of the same grammatical order and therefore that a balanced sentence requires that its halves be independent clauses. However, to the degree that we hear a sentence as consisting of two parts more or less equal in length and importance, it is balanced. The balance is more exact when the parts are independent clauses cut to the same pattern.

(-/-) or (-/-); sometimes the half is split into three (-1-) or (-

For being logical they strictly separate poetry from prose; and as in prose they are strictly prosaic, so in poetry, they are purely poetical. (-/-) G. K. Chesterton

But called by whatever name, it is a most fruitful region; kind to the native, interesting to the visitor.

I stood like one thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an apparition: I listened, looked round me, but could hear nothing, nor see anything.

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Responses

  • Ewan
    How to wirte a balanced sentence?
    8 years ago
  • reagan
    How to write a balanced sentence?
    8 years ago

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