Periodic sentences keep the reader in suspense by beginning with the additional details and providing the central idea at the end.
A periodic sentence is another type of sentence structure where the writer withholds the main idea till the very end. In such sentences, the subordinate clause comes first. We tend to use loose sentences more than periodic sentences while conversing or writing.
✤ Stella was elated, when she held her baby for the first time.
✤ Holding her baby for the first time, Stella was elated.
It must be noted that a subordinate clause is not a standalone sentence, and the main thought of the sentence would not be understood till one reads the main clause that appears in the end. Thus, periodic sentences are more complex, formal, or literary in nature than cumulative sentences.
Care has to be taken while structuring loose and periodic sentences. One has to be judicious when it comes to explaining the main clause through modifying subordinate clauses or phrases. At times, the reader might not want to read the entire sentence, as he/she feels that he’s already aware of the main idea. If the sentence is too long, the reader might forget the main idea or lose interest by the time he/she comes to the end of the sentence. This also applies to periodic sentences. Though periodic sentences are complex and dramatic, they shouldn’t be used too often. Some readers might feel impatient, when the central thought is delayed due to the long string of details.
✤ They all watched the game in silence, when their best player retired hurt, wondering how that would affect the outcome of the game.
✤ The manager called the employee, scolding him for not coming on time, threatening him of dire consequences.
✤ They all looked disoriented, woken up from the slumber, with the loud sound of the bell.
✤ Susan was inexorable, even though her friends persuaded her to stay calm.
✤ She went to the mall, looked for appropriate gifts for her friends, and reached home in a couple of hours.
✤ They spotted a huge lion, sleeping like a baby, along with cubs, under a large tree.
✤ They rarely fight, surely a match made in heaven.
✤ The dog started barking loudly, when a stranger approached the gate.
✤ She felt uneasy when she looked at the number of candidates who had applied for the job.
✤ As all her time went in looking after her old parents, she never had enough time to pursue her dreams.
✤ Even though she worked hard, finished her projects before time, her work was never appreciated.
✤ As soon as they entered their home, they realized that they had been robbed.
✤ Though they are very rich, they are always unhappy.
✤ When everyone else was calling her names, he tried to stop them.
✤ If she had listened to him, her life would have been completely different.
✤ Though she was unwell, she took care of her guests.
✤ After listening to her woes, Shaun decided to help her.
― William Faulkner
― Terry Tempest Williams
― Walter Van Tilburg Clark
― Annie Dillard, An American Childhood
― Kent Haruf, Plainsong
― Wendell Berry
― Walter Dean Myers, The Treasure of Lemon Brown
― Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers
― Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms
―Susan Orlean, The Orchid Thief