Cumulative Sentences

A cumulative sentence starts with an independent clause followed by a series of modifying clauses or phrases. A cumulative sentence makes its main point right away and then adds details that develop or modify that point; it creates a sense of expanding and increasingly detailed understanding of its topic.

Write TWO cumulative sentences each day, one short (under fifty words) and one long (over fifty words). In five days you will have a total of ten cumulative sentences.

Sample Cumulative Sentences:

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently.
—Steve Jobs, “Think Different” (24 words)

He dipped his hands in the bichloride solution and shook them—a quick shake, fingers down, like the fingers of a pianist above the keys.
—Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith (25 words)

I write this at a wide desk in a pine shed as I always do these recent years, in this life I pray will last, while the summer sun closes the sky to Orion and to all the other winter stars over my roof.
—Annie Dillard, An American Childhood (44 words)

The San Bernardino Valley lies only an hour east of Los Angeles by the San Bernardino Freeway but is in certain ways an alien place: not the coastal California of the subtropical twilights and the soft westerlies off the Pacific but a harsher California, haunted by the Mojave just beyond the mountains, devastated by the hot dry Santa Ana wind that comes down through the passes at 100 miles an hour and whines through the eucalyptus windbreaks and works on the nerves.
—Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem (82 words)

They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
—Jack Kerouac, On the Road (93 words)

Page Last Updated: 15 August 2013