Supporting Sentence

Definition of Supporting Sentence

A supporting sentence comprises two words: supporting and sentence. Supporting, here, means which assists or helps and sentence means a group of words or phrases having a complete sense. Therefore, a supporting sentence or some supporting sentences help a statement to win its legitimacy among the readers when they read it. Its objective is to bring coherence, flow, and smoothness in a piece of writing. Supporting sentences usually show the main idea to the readers and inform them about the evidence behind it.

A supporting sentence is a bridge sentence used to support a claim or an argument. Generally, a supporting sentence has three parts; definitional, explanatory, and example. The first part defines what it means, while the second part explains and the third part presents examples to support the explanation. However, this is not a definite rule to write supporting sentences. It could be an example, its explanation and then metacommentary or some other order of sentences that suits the writers or the readers. Also, this order of the type of sentences depends on the type of writings.

Examples of Supporting Sentence in Literature

Example #1

Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens

Dombey was about eight-and-forty years of age. Son about eight and-forty minutes. Dombey was rather bald, rather red, and though a handsome well-made man, too stern and pompous in appearance, to be prepossessing. Son was very bald, and very red, and though (of course) an undeniably fine infant, somewhat crushed and spotty in his general effect, as yet. On the brow of Dombey, Time and his brother Care had set some marks, as on a tree that was to come down in good time—remorseless twins they are for striding through their human forests, notching as they go—while the countenance of Son was crossed with a thousand little creases, which the same deceitful Time would take delight in smoothing out and wearing away with the flat part of his scythe, as a preparation of the surface for his deeper operations.

This passage occurs in the novel of Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son. It is about Dombey who is put into comparison to his son who is just forty-eight minutes of age. The arrangement of the sentences rather supports this comparison and does not occur in the given definite order of definition, explanation, and example. However, it shows that the supporting sentences could occur in any format that suits the purpose of the writer. Here, Dickens wants to present Dombey and his son and this comparison suits his purpose of creating humor.

Example #2

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

On a day when Fawley was getting quite advanced, being now about sixteen, and had been stumbling through the ‘Carmen Sæculare’ on his way home, he found himself to be passing over the high edge of the plateau by the Brown House. The light had changed, and it was the sense of this which had caused him to look up. The sun was going down, and the full moon was rising simultaneously behind the woods in the opposite quarter. His mind had become so impregnated with the poem that in a moment of the same impulsive emotion which years before had caused him to kneel on the ladder, he stopped the horse, alighted, and glancing round to see that nobody was in sight, knelt down on the roadside bank with open book.

This passage occurs in, Judge the Obscure, a popular novel by Thomas Hardy. Although the first sentence about Fawley is quite long and sets the tone of the narrative, the next sentences describe the scene around the Brown House and support the first sentence in a way that the entire picture becomes an excellent atmosphere in the minds of the readers. These supporting sentences have often nouns or pronouns in the beginning.

Example #3

A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couple, who are able to maintain their own children, (although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom) but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand, for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remain an hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, How this number shall be reared, and provided for?

This passage occurs in the essay of Jonathan Swift, “A Modest Proposal.” The essay is about his sarcastic remarks about the neglect of the government regarding young children. The first sentence is unusually long but the next three sentences support the main theme that is about the number of children in the United Kingdom.

Example #4

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Simon paused. He looked over his shoulder as Jack had done at the close ways behind him and glanced swiftly round to confirm that he was utterly alone. For a moment his movements were almost furtive. Then he bent down and wormed his way into the center of the mat. The creepers and the bushes were so close that he left his sweat on them and they pulled together behind him. When he was secure in the middle he was in a little cabin screened off from the open space by a few leaves. He squatted down, parted the leaves and looked out into the clearing. Nothing moved but a pair of gaudy butterflies that danced round each other in the hot air.

This passage occurs in the popular novel of William Golding, Lord of the Flies. This passage demonstrates the character of Simon and how he acts within the group. Golding has shown his skill in using short sentences contrary to the previous two writers. He subtly joins the supporting sentences that make the readers not feel the shift in the episode. Nonetheless, the sentences still support the main or the topic sentence.

Functions of Supporting Sentence

Supporting sentences has three major functions. They create a flow in writing, they make it coherent and they create eloquence, making writing rhetorically powerful. Regarding the readers, they function as a bridge between them and the main idea of the writer.


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