THE "GIVEN-NEW" PRINCIPLE
As a writer, it is important that you are aware of your readers' expectations.
Readers expect that any new information will be presented within the context of something which is familiar to them. Familiar information consists of 2 types of information. The first is something that has already been mentioned (even if not in the same words!) fairly recently in the text above. The second type of information is that which is familiar to the readers from their general or specialist knowledge about the subjects discussed in the text.
What this all means is that good writers generally place familiar information (or at least what they assume to be familiar!) before new information in the sentence. This ordering (usually called 'given-before-new') makes it easier for readers to see how each new piece of information fits into what they already know. Just as students expect their professors to schedule the "Introduction to physics" course before the course in "Quantum physics", readers expect that writers will first provide them with an orientation to a subject before presenting unknown material.
If a writer begins sentences with new elements of information, readers may be unable to see what the text is really about and relate the new information to what has come before, or what they already know. For that reason, it is essential that you know the mechanics of the "given-before-new" principle.
Click the 'start' button to explore this principle for yourself.
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