Subordinate to Control Your Emphasis
by Peggy Urry
Lately we've talked about placement of ideas or words we want to emphasize. Sometimes we want the emphasis at the beginning or sometimes it works better at the end. You can also use sentence structure to call attention to a main point.
Use of subordinate clauses (made by adding a subordinating conjunction such as although, when, if, and because) emphasizes the main clause.
Compare "I have my doubts about your proposal" (a main clause) with "Although I have my doubts about your proposal" (a subordinate clause).1 Beginning your sentence with a subordinating conjunction shifts the emphasis to the main clause. This can work with positive or negative information. For example, if you say "Because you've done such a terrific job on this project..." you expect some positive result. Conversely, if you say, "Because we lost $40 million last quarter..." you may not want to hear the rest.
Also, knowing when to subordinate allows you to give your message a positive or negative spin. Consider the following examples:
I am unable to refund your money, but I will give you a 10 percent discount on your next purchase.
Although I am unable to refund your money, I will give you a 10 percent discount on your next purchase.
Although his insights are invaluable, he talks too much.
Although he talks too much, his insights are invaluable.
"Subordinate to control your emphasis."2
1Mastering the Craft of Writing, Wilbers, Stephen, pg 156.
2Mastering the Craft of Writing, Wilbers, Stephen, pg 158.