Steps 5, 6 and 7 of the Generative
Sentence Rhetoric Method
DS 014 Writing
Agenda for Today
Review adding modifiers to BSPs
GSR Step 5—Verb, Noun and Adjective Clusters
GSR Step 6—Absolutes
GSR Step 7—Relative Clauses
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are
always interesting to me, because as we know, there
are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to
say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we
don't know we don't know.
Donald Rumsfeld - This comment before the war in Iraq won the US Secretary of Defence the 2003 Award for
Gobbledygook from the Plain English Campaign.
Bound Modifiers Review
There are three kinds of “bound modifiers”-
-adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional
The reason they're called bound modifiers
is that they're not necessarily set off by
punctuation but are rather “bound” tightly
into the sentence.
– Jim carefully drove the huge truck onto the
highway.--BSP-2 plus adjective, adverb, and
The BSP is weakened (hard to find the
original structure) if you add too many
bound modifiers to it.
Old, unhappy, bashful, friendless Jim carefully,
quietly, and deliberately drives a battered,
decrepit, unpainted, unlicensed truck.
A base clause should normally be between
eight and twenty words long (Christensen).
Free Modifiers Review
Structures that may ordinarily be "freely"
placed before, after, or in the middle of the
base clause that they modify and are set off
from the modified base clause by pauses in
oral speech and by punctuation in writing.
Free Modifiers Review (cont.)
One simple way to add a free modifier is to
add a subordinate clause to the beginning
of a base clause.
When Jim drives a truck, he is
Words used to start subordinate clauses
include (but aren't limited to)...
after, although, as, because, before,
even though, if, once, since, though,
unless, until, and when.
GSR Step 5--Clusters
To generate a verb cluster, one may best begin
with a BSP-1 or BSP-2 base clause. The verb is
then altered to its -ing form and this -ing form
(plus its bound modifiers) crosses over to the
beginning of a new sentence, where it is set off
by a comma and acts as a free modifier to a new
In Plain English, We Do This...
The solution deteriorated after an hour. --modified BSP-
Change deteriorated to deteriorating.
Then move it to another part of the sentence.
Deteriorating after an hour, the solution exploded.
This creates a verb cluster, a type of free
Practice Creating Verb Clusters
Let's try creating verb clusters on the following
The man escaped from jail.
Bobcat has a bobbed tail.
Matt looked for a job.
We drove for an eternity.
The boys cleaned up the mess.
To make a noun cluster, we start with BSP-3s (you
remember, the ones that have linking verbs?)
We take the part of the BSP that is describing and
move it around.
John is a talented musician.--BSP-3
A talented musician, John plays numerous
Let's Practice Making Noun Clusters
My father is an elementary school principal.
Teal is my favorite color.
Janelle's project was the Math Module.
An outline is a great thing to have.
Dog attacks have been a problem.
All of these are BSP-3s—let's see if we can change
things up, creating noun clusters!
Still More Clusters(!)--Adjectives
We can make adjective clusters the same way we
make noun clusters, except this time, we start with
BSP-4s (the ones with the descriptive modifiers in
The program was faulty in its program statements.
Faulty in its program statements, the program had
to be rewritten.
The road was blocked by a tree.
Blocked by a tree, the road was impassible.
Adjective Cluster Practice
Pamela's classes were too early in the morning.
Rachire's car was almost an antique.
Those earrings were much too expensive.
Volunteer vacations are popular this year.
Clowns are much too scary.
Tip to Remember
To add interest in your writing, remember to use a
good mixture of, not only the basic sentence
patterns, but also sentences built of BSPs and
GSR Step 6--Absolutes
Another type of free modifier-the absolute-is
formed by taking away or removing the “to be”
from a base clause.
His nose was running.
His nose running, Jack looked pitiful.
Her hands were blue from the cold.
Her hands blue from the cold, Misty
huddled near the fire.
Practice Making Absolutes
His car was running hot.
Paul's books were too heavy for him to carry.
The trees were full of fruit.
My head was hurting after the exam.
GSR Step 7—Relative Clauses
A free "relative clause" is created by replacing a
noun with a relative pronoun such as "who" or
Dogs are mammals.
Dogs make good pets.
Dogs, which make good pets, are mammals.
Dogs, which are mammals, make good pets.
More Examples of Relative Clauses
The weather is usually clear.
The weather is cloudy today.
The weather, which is usually clear, is cloudy
The weather, which is cloudy today, is usually
Her fiance works at Chevron.
He has a degree in engineering.
Her fiance, who has a degree in engineering, works
Her fiance, who works at Chevron, has a degree in
Write 10 sentences using what we learned today.
They can have any mixture of clusters, absolutes and
Coming up this week!
GSR Step 8—Positioning modifiers
GSR Step 9—Parallelism in modifiers
GSR Step 10—Turning modifiers non-parallel with a
Monday Wednesday and
GSR Step 11-- Friday
Punctuation No class
GSR Step 12— Work on take
Transitions home test