For this post, I will focus on the second half of the long sentence found in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 9:
📘 ‘…and towards one of these hills did Marianne and Margaret one memorable morning direct their steps, attracted by the partial sunshine of a showery sky, and unable longer to bear the confinement which the settled rain of the two preceding days had occasioned.’
By repositioning some words, the meaning becomes clearer. We rearrange the words by asking questions:
WHO is doing the action? Marianne and Margaret, the two younger Dashwood sisters.
WHAT did they do? They ‘direct their steps … towards one of these hills’.
WHY did they do this? Because they were ‘attracted by the partial sunshine of a showery sky’ and they were also ‘unable longer to bear the confinement which the settled rain of the two preceding days had occasioned.’ (Note: ‘settled’ here means the ‘steady’ or ‘continuous’ rain over the last two days).
👉 Now your turn: WHEN did this happen?
The answers are all included in this second part of the original sentence.
You can observe the impact of a well-written sentence, particularly in English literature. It is often presented in a more complex format than we are used to using in spoken English. To fully appreciate its richness and nuances, we can simply ask a few questions that break down the different grammatical parts of the sentence.
Once that step is clear, we can begin to learn and absorb the new vocabulary.
Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts to share!