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For Repeated Subjects or Topics

Summary:

This resource presents methods for adding sentence variety and complexity to writing that may sound repetitive or boring. Sections are divided into general tips for varying structure, a discussion of sentence types, and specific parts of speech which can aid in sentence variety.

Contributors:Ryan Weber, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2011-03-28 02:44:13

Handling the same topic for several sentences can lead to repetitive sentences. When that happens, consider using these parts of speech to fix the problem.

1. Relative pronouns

Embed one sentence inside the other using a clause starting with one of the relative pronouns listed below.

which, who, whoever, whom, that, whose
Example: Indiana used to be mainly an agricultural state. It has recently attracted more industry.
Revision: Indiana, which used to be mainly an agricultural state, has recently attracted more industry.
Example: One of the cameras was not packed very well. It was damaged during the move.
Revision: The camera that was not packed very well was damaged during the move.
Example: The experiment failed because of Murphy's Law. This law states that if something can go wrong, it will.
Revision: The experiment failed because of Murphy's Law, which states that if something can go wrong, it will.
Example: Doctor Ramirez specializes in sports medicine. She helped my cousin recover from a basketball injury.
Revision 1: Doctor Ramirez, who specializes in sports medicine, helped my cousin recover from a basketball injury.
Revision 2: Doctor Ramirez, whose specialty is sports medicine, helped my cousin recover from a basketball injury.

2. Participles

Eliminate a be verb (am, is, was, were, are) and substitute a participle:

Present participles end in -ing, for example: speaking, carrying, wearing, dreaming.
Past participles usually end in -ed, -en, -d, -n, or -t but can be irregular, for example: worried, eaten, saved, seen, dealt, taught.
Example: Wei Xie was surprised to get a phone call from his sister. He was happy to hear her voice again.
Revision 1: Wei Xie, surprised to get a phone call from his sister, was happy to hear her voice again.
Revision 2: Surprised to get a phone call from his sister, Wei Xie was happy to hear her voice again.

3. Prepositions

Turn a sentence into a prepositional phrase using one of the words below:

about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, as, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, by, despite, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, near, next to, of, off, on, out, over, past, to, under, until, up, with
Example: The university has been facing pressure to cut its budget. It has eliminated funding for important programs. (two independent clauses)
Revision: Under pressure to cut its budget, the university has eliminated funding for important programs. (prepositional phrase, independent clause)
Example: Billy snuck a cookie from the dessert table. This was against his mother's wishes.
Revision: Against his mother's wishes, Billy snuck a cookie from the dessert table.

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