Monday, February 27, 2006

Persuasion: beginning or end?

Experts and stylists disagree about this point: What sentence location carries the most emphasis--the beginning or the end?

Here are some examples of both approaches. To emphasize "intent"--
  • To properly apply the legal standard, the court must focus on the actor's intent.
  • The actor's intent must remain the court's focus if it is to apply the legal standard properly.

To emphasize "deception"--
  • When GenCorp told Mr. Mills he was fired for health reasons, it committed deception.
  • The deception arose when GenCorp told Mr. Mills he was fired for health reasons.

To emphasize "Rule 16"--
  • The only authority for making a competency determination is Rule 16.
  • Rule 16 is the only authority for a making a competency determination.

Most experts say the end of the sentence is the most emphatic point. For example, Strunk & White favor the end of the sentence for emphasis. The Elements of Style at 32.

Others favor the beginning.

What do you think?

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