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Using Disjuncts in Your Writing

Updated on November 08, 2016
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Have you heard of disjuncts? Do you know what they are? As a writer, you may have used them without recognizing them.

What Are Disjuncts

In order to determine the proper use of a disjunct in writing, it helps to know the linguistic effect a disjunct has on a sentence. Unfortunately, in most lists of grammatical terms (adjunct, clause, indicative, participle, predicate, suffix, etc.) or of word classifications (adjective, adverb, conjunction, noun, pronoun, verb, etc.) the word disjunct seldom appears. The word also may occur only in the most voluminous of dictionaries.

Used appropriately, disjuncts can add flavor to an otherwise overly dry piece of writing.

A definition of the term, then, should provide a stepping stone toward discovery.

Briefly, a disjunct operates adverbially, not to modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb in a sentence, however, but the sentence itself. Writers who employ disjuncts in their writings often do so without realizing it. The disjunct seems so much an inherently natural part of a sentence as to go unnoticed by writer and reader alike.

Recognizing Disjuncts

To illustrate, sentences in the first and second of the foregoing paragraphs contain commonly used disjuncts. In both cases, the basic meaning of the sentences does not rely on the disjunct. The two serve primarily to indicate an attitude or viewpoint of the writer in regard to the sentences, much like an aside or whispered comment that may occur in a play. Can you isolate the two disjuncts? The disjuncts are the words "unfortunately" and "briefly." You might reread the sentences and analyze their effect on the meaning of these sentences.


Are Disjuncts Necessary?

In certain styles of writing, excessive use of disjuncts may have the effect of distracting the reader from the essential import of the article by unintentionally inserting the writer's bias into the work. As a complete sentence seldom if ever demands a disjunct, leaving them out will not dilute the meaning. Indeed, a writer wishing to pare unnecessary verbiage from an article might first edit out most or all of the disjuncts that appear in it.

Using Disjuncts Appropriately

On the other hand, used appropriately, disjuncts can add flavor to an otherwise overly dry piece of writing. If the writer's disjunctive attitude does not sidetrack the reader's train of thought through unintended intrusiveness, they can bring a welcome tone or temper to an article. Generally (a disjunct here), a disjunct adds a feeling of authority to a sentence. Presumably (another disjunct), a sentence makes a greater impression if it includes a disjunct. A writer might, wisely (also a disjunct), review an article to make sure any disjunct used harmonizes with the sentence in which it appears.

Bottom Line

The employment of disjuncts, done discreetly and properly, then, provides a good example of how a writer can add sparkle and emphasis to his or her writing with the simple addition of a word or two.


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