25 Great Sentences and How They Got That Way

Geraldine Woods


We send all orders via Royal Mail: within the UK, choose from 1st Class, 2nd Class or Special Delivery; for the rest of the world, International Standard or International Tracked. Delivery and packaging charges are calculated automatically at the checkout.

To collect orders in person from the Bookshop, choose Click and Collect at the checkout.

WW Norton & Co
26 April 2022
ISBN: 9780393882377
336 pages

From the publisher

We all know the basic structure of a sentence: a subject and verb pair expressing a complete thought and ending with proper punctuation. But that classroom definition doesn't begin to describe the ways in which these elements can combine to resonate with us as we read, to make us stop and think, laugh or cry. In 25 Great Sentences and How They Got That Way, master teacher Geraldine Woods unpacks powerful examples of what she instead prefers to define as "the smallest element differentiating one writer's style from another's, a literary universe in a grain of sand". And that universe is very large: the hundreds of memorable sentences gathered here come from sources as wide-ranging as Edith Wharton and Yogi Berra, Toni Morrison and Yoda, T. S. Eliot and Groucho Marx. Culled from fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry, song lyrics, speeches and even ads, these exemplary sentences are celebrated for the distinctive features-whether of structure, diction, connection/comparison, sound or extremes-that underlie their beauty, resonance and creativity. With dry humour and an infectious enjoyment that makes her own sentences a pleasure to read, Woods shows us the craft that goes into the construction of a memorable sentence. Each chapter finishes with an enticing array of exercises for those who want to test their skill at a particular one of the featured twenty-five techniques, such as onomatopoeia or parallelism. This is a book that will be treasured by language enthusiasts everywhere.