Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) Syntax

In rhetorical situations that call for simple, straightforward prose, you may want to look at your sentences with an eye toward subject-verb-object (SVO) syntax. Consider the following two sentences:

  1. I went to the store.
  2. The services of the store were procured.

The first one follows a SVO syntax (the subject first, followed by the verb, followed by the object), while the second follows an OVS syntax. Both are perfectly valid sentences, and would be judged acceptable and correct by almost any audience. But the two sentences clearly say different things, and they would have very different rhetorical effects on an audience. The first sentence is much shorter and compact. It is also much more readable than the second:

However, there are rhetorical situations that call for more complex prose. As always, let the rhetorical situation be your guide. For example, academic prose frequently aims to be obscure and unreadable, as this is a significant ethos appeal for academic audiences. You audience, purpose, and context should ultimately determine the shape of your rhetoric.