Strategies Of Sentence Variety
A professional writer or a student, who needs to complete an essay, is scared of repetitive and difficult to read sentences. Remember the times, when the sentences seemed to be smooth in the process but turned out completely choppy in the result?
That is why it is so important to read every work carefully, making all the necessary changes before submitting it. When you proofread your work, you can apply one of the multiple strategies of sentence variety and make the text understandable and clear.
Such strategies are crucial if you want to create your own writing style and to show your personality. In this article, you will get familiar with sentence variety strategies and will be able to improve your writing.
Evaluate sentence variety
When you are writing a college assignment, an article or any other paper you don’t pay much attention to sentence structure and style, because it is very distracting and may influence creativity. That is why it is better to implement the strategy of sentence variety on the editing stage. It should consider the beginnings of your sentences, their type and lengths.
Take a separate piece of paper and make three columns:
- Opening words of every sentence;
- Quantity of words in every sentence. To save time, don’t count the words on your own. Just select the sentence and use a built-in MS Word feature, called the Word Count;
- Types of sentences you have used. For example, affirmative, interrogative, exclamatory, etc.
These three columns will be very helpful in identifying various problems. For example, too long sentences, repetitive information, wrong sentence types and so on. Once this stage is completed, you can apply one of the strategies, which are stated below.
Include long and short sentences to change the rhythm
If you write several sentences or even a whole paragraph of the same length, it may seem quite difficult to read. You risk of making the text monotonous. That is why it is better to include long and short sentences to make the text lively and fresh.
Example: Michael became a book club member to discuss classical literature. He thought he would read Crime and Punishment, War and Peace and other famous books. However, he was very disappointed to find out that no one else read the book and that club’s members were simply gossiping. He went home not being able to discuss the book he has read and was very sad for expecting so much from the meeting.
Revised version: Michael became a book club member to discuss classical literature like Crime and Punishment, War and Peace and other famous books. He realized, however, that no one has read them. Michael discovered that other members haven’t read the chosen book and were simply gossiping, that is why he decided to go home not being able to discuss the book he has read. It was pure disappointment.
If many sentences start with a certain word, like The, This, I, It and so on, a common reader will find the work quite boring. You can prevent it simply by altering the beginning of your sentences.
Example: Mark fell off his bike.
Revised: After leaving his home, Mark fell off the bike.
Clumsily, Mark fell off his bike.
On the way to school, Mark fell off the bike.
While heading to school, Mark fell off the bike.
Types of sentences
There are four main categories of sentences in English. They are based on dependent and independent clauses inside a certain sentence. Being able to distinguish different sentence types helps with adding complexity and variation to the assignment.
Sentence types include:
- One independent and no dependent clause. For example, I like vanilla ice-cream;
- Several independent and no dependent clauses. For example, The dog barked and frightened the boy, and he ran away screaming;
- One independent and minimum one dependent clause. For example, Anna left when her husband arrived;
- Complex-compound. Several independent and minimum one dependent clause. She decided that the book was too scary but her daughter, who likes such stories, thought that her mother was wrong.
Alter short sentences
Although it is thought that short sentences are easier to understand, it is not always correct. If the text consists of many short and choppy sentences, the rhythm of the paper becomes unclear and the reading flow is greatly disturbed. If you want to fix the situation, follow these tips:
- Include conjunctions by joining your sentences with and, or, but, nor, yet, for, so.
Example: Maria is a true adventurer. She goes hiking very often.
Revised: Maria is a true adventurer and she often goes hiking.
- Connect two related sentences using the following connectors: unless, until, whether, whereas, since, that, even though, rather than, although, before, as, after, because.
Example: Mark loves movies. He goes to the movie theater every Friday.
Revised: Mark loves movies, that is why he goes to the movie theater every Friday.
When you are working on a particular topic, it is quite easy to repeat sentences by accident. Such sentences, as well as many other typical mistakes, greatly contribute to monotonous works and lead to losing interest in the reading. To solve such a problem, use the following techniques:
- Using relative pronouns. Build one sentence inside another one, using which, that, who, whose, whoever.
Example: Our lab work failed because of American citizens seem to face addiction problems Murphy’s Law. It states that if something might go wrong, it surely will.
Revised: Our lab work failed because of Murphy’s Law that states if something might go wrong, it surely will.
- Include participles. Instead of using forms of the ‘to be’ verb, include present and past participles.
Example: Anna was terrified to see the man lying on the pavement. She immediately called 911.
Revised: Terrified to see the man lying on the pavement, Anna immediately called 911.
- Using prepositions. You can turn your sentence in a prepositional one, using such words as with, up, under, over, off, from, except, down, despite, after, behind, beneath, across, down, etc.
Example: Jason used his father’s phone to call his girlfriend. This was surely against the rules.
Revised: Against father’s rules, Jason used his phone to call his girlfriend.
How to change sentences with similar rhythms and patterns
Even an outstanding paper can seem quite boring if the sentences are of a similar pattern or rhythm. However, such a problem can be easily solved. Here are the best techniques:
- Using dependent markers. Don’t start every sentence with a subject. Instead, use phrases and clauses, like even if, because, before, whether, whenever, although, unless, in order to, until, after, though.
Example: The room went completely silent when Anna, the Duchess, entered the room.
Revised: When Anna, the Duchess, entered the room, it went completely silent.
- Using transitional verbs or phrases. To improve the sentence’s rhythm, you can use transitional verbs in the beginning. They include after all, accordingly, meanwhile, consequently, however, regardless, but, otherwise and many others.
Example: Pharmaceutical producers are often focused on creating dependent drugs that have only a temporary effect on insomnia. American citizens seem to face addiction problems.
Revised: producers are often focused on creating dependent drugs that have only a temporary effect on insomnia. Consequently, American citizens seem to face addiction problems.