A second deficiency of the freight-train sentence is that it lacks a clear shape. Being open-ended, it has no necessary stopping place; one could go on and on adding clauses. As a way of providing it with a clearer structural principle, the freight-train sentence is sometimes composed in three units and is called a triad:2
Her showmanship was superb; her timing sensational; her dramatic instinct uncanny. Robert Coughlan
Business executives, economists, and the public alike knew little of the industrial system they were operating; they were unable to diagnose the malady; they were unaware of the great forces operating beneath the Arnold
Often, as in these examples, the three clauses are paratactic rather than coordinated because the triadic sentence tends to
2. These sentences are also called tricolons. Loosely, colon designated in ancient Greek rhetoric an independent clause that was part of a longer sentence. A is a sentence of three such clauses.
be repetitive. But it can use conjunctions when shifts in subject occur:
Then the first star came out and the great day was over and in the vestibule I saw my grandmother saluted by her sons who wished her a happy holiday.
In sentence the final clause is substantially longer than the two that precede it. Movement to a longer, more complicated construction is a refinement of the triadic sentence:
The canisters were almost out of reach; I made a motion to aid her; she turned upon me as a miser might turn if anyone attempted to assist him in counting his money. Emily Bronte
Occasionally the shift may work in the opposite direction, from long to short:
Calvin Coolidge believed that the least government was the best government; he aspired to become the least President the country ever had; he attained his desire. Irving stone
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