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Advice Practice
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Sentences
  Making longer sentences
    Clauses
    Phrases

  Placing the parts of a sentence

  How using short or longer   sentences affects your work
    Short sentences
    Longer sentences

Verbs
  Placing and using verbs
  How using personal or   impersonal affects your work

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Development Level Advice

Sentences - How using short or longer sentences affects your work - Longer sentences

These can express complicated ideas. They add variety to the work. They flow. They can make your work seem more sophisticated, and tend to require a higher reading age.

However:
  • a piece of work can be hard to read if all the sentences are complicated (i.e. with lots of clauses) and very long
  • not all long sentences make your work look sophisticated.

A long sentence made up of several clauses each of which could stand alone but which are linked together can look simplistic. Think of a child telling you what they did ("We went to the fair and then we had an ice cream and then we....").

It may be best in a sentence to have no more than two clauses which could stand alone. Advice on clauses is available in the Main Rules of Written English topic.

You can:
  • rewrite the sentence (changing the clauses to ones which depend on something else in the sentence)
  • split up the clauses to make separate sentences (though only having short sentences can seem simplistic).
Example
This sentences has 5 clauses each of which could stand alone.
*Students have a heavy workload on their courses and they may also work part-time, and they need to plan ahead, but this can be something they are not used to and they may find it difficult.

This version changes some of the clauses into ones which depend on something else in the sentence.
Because of the heavy workload on their courses and the likelihood of their also working part-time, students need to plan ahead, although this can be something which they are not used to and may find difficult.

This version is split into separate sentences.
Students have a heavy workload on their courses and may also work part-time, so they need to plan ahead. This can be something they are not used to and may find it difficult.

 

© Learning & Teaching Institute, Sheffield Hallam University 2004