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For Short, Choppy Sentences

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: 2010-04-17 05:36:56

If your writing contains lots of short sentences that give it a choppy rhythm, consider these tips.

1. Combine Sentences With Conjunctions:

Join complete sentences, clauses, and phrases with conjunctions:

and, but, or, nor, yet, for, so
Example: Doonesbury cartoons satirize contemporary politics. Readers don't always find this funny. They demand that newspapers not carry the strip.
Revision: Doonesbury cartoons laugh at contemporary politicians, but readers don't always find this funny and demand that newspapers not carry the strip.

2. Link Sentences Through Subordination:

Link two related sentences to each other so that one carries the main idea and the other is no longer a complete sentence (subordination). Use connectors such as the ones listed below to show the relationship.

after, although, as, as if, because, before, even if, even though, if, if only, rather than, since, that, though, unless, until, when, where, whereas, wherever, whether, which, while
Example: The campus parking problem is getting worse. The university is not building any new garages.
Revision: The campus parking problem is getting worse because the university is not building any new garages.
Example: The US has been highly dependent on foreign oil for many years. Alternate sources of energy are only now being sought.
Revision: Although the US has been highly dependent on foreign oil for many years, alternate sources are only now being sought.

Notice in these examples that the location of the clause beginning with the dependent marker (the connector word) is flexible. This flexibility can be useful in creating varied rhythmic patterns over the course of a paragraph.

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