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I have a question regarding sentence openings in English language.

When I write most of my sentences start with determiners and pronouns (personal and posessive). This gets repetative quickly.

For example.

Arkadiy Arkadiyevich was an interesting man. His nose resembled a potato...

In my native language (Russian) I can write this.

Arkadiy Arkadiyevich was an interesting man. Nose resembled potato...

To a Russian reader it is clear from the context whos nose are we talking about. I can still say "His nose" or even "Nose his" but that is not required.

Because of this it is very easy for me to vary sentence openings. I know that in English you can use nouns as sentence openings as well.

Colors flooded his face. Pages flew out of the book.

But it seems it applies only to a set of "some" or "any" objects. Not specific object like in the case of Arkadiy's nose.

I can think of following variations.

  • His nose resembled a potato.
  • A little potato-like nose was planted on his face.
  • Nose of his was as big as potato. (Doesn't sound right for my ear)
  • Arkadiy Arkadiyevich was an interesting man with an interesting nose. The nose was just like potato.
  • Arkadiy Arkadiyevich was an interesting man with an interesting nose. It was just like a potato.
  • Even his nose was interesting, just like potato.
  • Though his nose was just like potato, he nonetheless was very proud of it.
  • When somebody looked at his nose all they could see was a potato.
  • All round him were countless flies that attempted to land on his potato like nose.
  • ...

So to avoid using words like Arkadiy's, his, he, a, the, it, my brain tends to rephrase the sentence often times completely loosing the original meaning or at least shifting the focus. E.g from nose to flies. Or it uses other words not nouns to add varaity. The problem is there are infinitely more nouns then these other special words and thus they are more flexible.

Can anyone point me as to how to achive varaity in sentence openings? Am I missing something? Can I start sentences with nouns in the abvoe example?

I know that you can start sentences with adverbs, verbs and using other parts of speach. And also I can combine short sentences into long ones. I guess I need to change my mindest, switch somehow from thinking in Russian to thinking in English.

Thanks.

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Almost all the variations you have are fine. A few notes:

A little potato-like nose was planted on his face.

The grammar here is correct. However, the combination of "potato" and "planted" would only work in a humorous book, where you're constantly joking throughout the narration.

Nose of his was as big as potato. (Doesn't sound right for my ear)

Correct; you can't say it this way in English.

The nose was just like potato.

You do have to use the article a, as you did in the next example. That carries down to the next two.

All round him were countless flies that attempted to land on his potato like nose.

"All around" and "potato-like"

Generally speaking, you have the right idea for variations.

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Arkadiy Arkadiyevich was an interesting man. Nose resembled potato...

You can do something very similar to what you are saying in English.

However, if you do - the English structure actually leads to inferences of emphasis and greater objectification. This is not always what is implied in other languages.

Assume, (as an example), that your sentence is actually grammatically correct in English. What effect would this structure have on English readers?

  1. "Nose" being placed at the very beginning creates emphasis, and makes the reader focus on it. His nose just became a huge distraction, and very malformed in our minds.
  2. Emphasizing a feature or another attribute OVER the identity of a character creates a sense of objectification, diminishing the character.

But, to make it grammatically correct in English - to create those specific effects - we might have to push the construction even further by using pronouns for objects, (which, that, it, a, an, the, etc.). Some of these constructions seem fun and might work:

  1. Nose resembled potato.
    Note: This reminds me of the book, "Princess Bride" - not the movie. The narrator's own voice kept intruding into the book. It was a great effect. If the reader is aware that the narrator is Russian, and if this is done consistently, I think it would a great device. Russian cynicism would be great this way.
  2. That nose was a potato.
  3. Potatoes had nothing on that nose.
  4. A potato usurped one of the proper facial orifices.
    Note: I like this one because it forces the reader into a cognitive process to figure out which orifice, (which is disturbing enough) - But this is exactly what the narrator is trying to do. I like the immersion.
  5. For a nose, a potato rooted into the mire of his face.
  6. The nose. No, a mutant potato.
  7. But that nose. Oh the nose.

(Personally, I love how stereotypical apropos and witty the potato / Russian connection is.)

But sometimes when you translate things from some languages to others, the sentence structure has to change, and word order cannot be preserved. Your sentence is a perfect example of this IF you really do not want to intend emphasis, objectification, or humour. If you preserve the Russian structure the way you suggested - you might inadvertently lead your readers to make those inferences that you didn't intend.

Personally, I prefer translating according to word-order, (especially dialogue), when I think it is very important to force the reader into foreign cognitive processes just to break them out of traditional inferences.

But I think that if either "objectification" or "emphasis" is your intention - then absolutely - go for it.

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