Long sentences are confusing. You might write a sentence that captures all the points you wanted to make, but it’s really long and verbose. Have you ever resorted to counting the sentences in your paragraph only to find that there were only two or three?
Can long sentences ever be good? Yes! But they must still be concise. You don't want to use a bunch of extra words just because you think it’ll sound smarter. Kate L. Turabian in the 8th edition of "A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Dissertations, and Theses" suggests several ways to improve the quality of your sentences.
- Long introductory phrases are ok, but avoid using them too much. The point is to get to the point quickly!
- Keep the wording of the subject succinct. Instead of “old governmental documents known as the Federalist Papers” just put “Federalist Papers.” The rest is common knowledge that makes it harder for the reader to get to the subject.
- Keep the subject and the verb as close as possible.
- Make your verbs awesome without adding adverbs. Find more specific verbs that describe exactly what you mean.
- New information = end of sentence. Familiar information = beginning of the sentence. This way, readers will be able to connect the new information to something that is familiar to them.
- Be careful with first person, even if the assignment requires it. It's still bad practice to begin every sentence with “I.”
If you want more help improving your sentences, come in and see us for an appointment!