Remember “Groundhog Day”? Imagine yourself seeing, doing and eating the same things over and over again. In a couple of weeks, you will either go crazy or find a way to get out of the time loop. What does this have to do with writing essays? When you use the same short and choppy or long-winded sentences, your readers get bored and frustrated. And when your instructor is annoyed, your chances of getting an A are slim.
Sentence variety is essential to good writing. It helps you get your point across, make the text more involving and dynamic. Still, when you get into the writing mood, don’t stop to correct the sentences. You can ensure sentence variety when you edit the paper. Here are a few ideas how to improve sentence variety.
Identify The Problem
First, you need to understand whether your sentences need more variety. There are several ways to identify the problem.
- Try starting each sentence on a new line. This way you will be able to compare their length and openings at a glance.
- If you use pen and paper, make a table with three columns. Identify the number of words, the opening phrases and the type of sentence. Reviewing the table row-for-row, you will get a clear picture of the sentence variety in your paper.
- Utilize free online tools for professional writers, like Readable. You won’t get a full picture, but this software will highlight the longest sentences and words for you to reconsider. You can make use of other parameters to improve your writing further.
Change The Rhythm
Short sentences are great when you need to make a point. But if you write the whole essay using short phrases, it will seem choppy, disconnected, and hurried:
The weather was great. I went for a walk. It improved my mood.
Long sentences allow you to construct elaborate connections between events. They seem elegant and make up the bulk of your essay. However, if you start rambling, the reader might lose the thread of thought and get frustrated:
The sun was shining brightly, and there was not a single cloud in sight, so I decided to go outside and enjoy this spectacular weather, which significantly lightened my mood, and I came back home with a smile on my face.
The rule of thumb is to change the length of the sentences so that there are no more than three long or short sentences in a row. Try changing your essay according to this rule, and it will get a nice rhythm.
It seems obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning, that long sentences should be broken down into two or more parts, while short phrases can be combined into one. To integrate several short sentences in one, use:
- -ing modifiers
He was late for work. He missed the bus.
Missing the bus, he was late for work.
- -ed modifiers
Professional musicians played the piece. It sounded lovely.
Played by the professional musicians, the piece sounded lovely.
We needed to get to the movies in time. We used Uber.
To get to the movies in time, we used Uber.
- Relative clauses
John will help us plant the flowers this year. He is a gardener.
John, who is a gardener, will help us plant the flowers this year.
Mary doesn’t have much time. She is a stay-at-home mum.
A stay-at-home mum, Mary doesn’t have much time.
Mix And Match Sentence Types
First, look at your paper and decide, whether you can add questions or exclamations into the mix of boring declarative sentences. A well-placed rhetorical question can bring your idea into the focus and encourage readers to read further to find the answers.
You should also alternate sentence types to make the paper more engaging. Here is a quick reminder of different types you can use:
- A simple sentence has a single independent clause.
- Compound sentence has 2+ independent clauses and no dependent clauses.
- Complex sentence possesses one independent clause with 1+ dependent clauses.
- Compound-complex sentence has 2+ independent clauses and 1+ dependent clause.
As you vary the sentence structure and type, you will notice that their length changes accordingly, so keep the rhythm of the writing in mind.
Vary Sentence Openings
Since primary school teachers told you that the best way to compose sentences is using a subject+verb+object structure. However, if you overuse this technique, you might find all your sentences starting with words like “I”, “There is”, “It was”. As a result, the text turns boring and predictable.
To improve the situation, keep track of the sentences’ openings and change the phrases that are frequently repeated. Remember, you can start the sentence with:
- An adverb. This will alter the rhythm of the sentence and place its focus on the adverb. The modifier at the beginning of the sentence is usually followed by a comma.
We didn’t expect him to storm out of the room in a huff.
Unexpectedly, he stormed out of the room in a huff.
- A prepositional phrase. Moving the prepositional phrase to the beginning of the sentence isn’t always possible, but it changes the pace of the writing and transfers focus from the subject to the object.
The bonfires were blazing across the battlefield.
Across the battlefield, the bonfires were blazing.
- A verb. Inverted sentences place the verb before the subject, which becomes the focus of the phrase.
The resume is enclosed with the email.
Enclosed with the email is the resume.
Improving sentence variety can finally get you that A you’ve been after since the start of the semester. Remember to play around with sentence structure, openings, and length while editing your papers. Or you can ask our professional editors to do this job for you. Our writers know about these tricks too, so you can order the paper online and get a top-notch essay without breaking a sweat.