Could you suggest a style guide or an exercise book that could teach how one sentence can be written in alternative ways, or how to rephrase a sentence in various structures, especially sentences involving modal verbs like should and would in third person.

The purpose is to avoid repetition of modal verbs and make the writing more persuasive.

Examples include: the parliament should pass the antiterrorism bill could be rewritten as: it is incumbent upon the parliament to pass the antiterrorism bill; the finance minister must wither away the economic crisis as the economic crisis demands that the finance minister takes immediate action, and so on.

  • There are currently three close votes, and all have selected that this question belongs on English Language & Usage. This is misguided, and migration would be a waste of everybody's time as the question would be quickly closed on EL&U as completely off-topic. Personally I think the question should be closed as "Too Broad", but I'm voting to leave it open because any close votes now will simply lead to the majority reason (migration to EL&U) being triggered. Perhaps one of those who had voted for migration might retract their VTC? May 24 '19 at 3:44
  • The question is asking for writing resources which is always on topic.
    – wetcircuit
    May 26 '19 at 15:45
  • I'd like to point out that OP did in fact ask this on English Language & Usage first and was specifically redirected here by a close-voter. Not only that, the EL&U version is still open, albeit at -1 and unanswered. Do not migrate this to EL&U. We'd be turning a cross-post into a straight-up duplicate.
    – F1Krazy
    May 26 '19 at 15:48
  • @lookatmenow, I have made a small edit to your question to make it clear what you are looking for. If this is not your intended meaning, please edit your question further.
    – wetcircuit
    May 26 '19 at 15:53
  • 4
    I dream of a day when someone, instead of redirecting and procrastinating, could actually guide me and help me out. Thanks (wetcircuit) for your support. May 26 '19 at 15:55

The purpose is to avoid repetition of modal verbs and make the writing more persuasive.

I think you're barking up the wrong tree. You're relying on your individual sentences to persuade people when you should look at your entire essay. It doesn't matter to most people whether you say "the parliament should pass the antiterrorism bill" or "it is incumbent upon the parliament to pass the antiterrorism bill" (although the former flows smoothly and the latter sounds like it is trying too hard). People are going to want reasons, and you can't provide all of those in a single sentence.

Just googling your phrase "make the writing more persuasive" resulting in 69+ million hits on how to write persuasive essays, but nothing I could find there was about writing persuasive sentences. When it comes to persuading people, it's the forest, not the trees.

  • 1
    Why does everyone here go for cherry-picking one clause and responds to the question on the basis of that (ignoring all other details)? Are people so incompetent here that they can't comprehend the heading along with the details? Kindly read the question in its entirety and stop ranting about persuasion. Repetitive style is an issue for some writers, especially for non-natives, and sadly I am one of them. Jun 8 '19 at 21:08
  • @lookatmenow You gave two examples, I picked one of them. I could just as easily have picked the other one or both. You gave your purpose as trying to be more persuasive, but persuasion does not occur at the sentence level, at least with the examples that you gave. (Your attitude here is not helpful.) Jun 10 '19 at 23:49

Having scoured the internet for a bit, I have found two style guides which I have not read myself, but which sound like they do at least part of what you are looking for.

The first one is called The Economist Style Guide and is available on the website of The Economist. It's a general style guide for the English language, so it might not be directly a tool for learning different ways of phrasing specific sentences, but it might still offer some good advice.

The second one is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Again, a general style guide. I'll let the Amazon description speak for itself:

You know the authors' names. You recognize the title. You've probably used this book yourself. This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered.This book's unique tone, wit and charm have conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. Use the fourth edition of "the little book" to make a big impact with writing.

That sounds generally badass.

Personally, I really like The Economist's style, which is the kind of style that is used by intellectual writers who are not showing off. Elegant and to the point. But I am considering buying both books, especially because the second one sounds like what I was looking for - a general, sort-of-agreed-upon style guide.

Other than these two, the only guides I can find are mostly for a high school level of writing, i.e. "remember that you can use passive to mix things up sometimes" and similar tips.

  • Thanks Spectrosaurus. I have read both these books. These books aren't particularly useful for this alternate sentence structure purpose. Jun 9 '19 at 16:30
  • @lookatmenow Yeah, I wasn't sure from the descriptions whether they would go into detail on something like this, but I thought there might be a chance that there'd be a chapter dedicated to this. Hm... my only other advice would be to build up a large active vocabulary. If "incumbent upon" starts to be a natural phrase for you, you will also start to use it in sentences more often, for instance.
    – PoorYorick
    Jun 9 '19 at 16:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.