Improving sentence structure can help to augment the quality of your essays, exam answers, and theses and is a crucial skill in academic writing. By following established language rules, you can convey influential, clear, and coherent messages that express your ideas. Whether you are an aspiring author, a student, or a professional, Learning to create optimal sentence structures can not only enhance the quality of your writing, but also make it more memorable and persuasive.
Definition: Improving sentence structure
To begin with, a sentence is defined as a group of words, usually including a verb and a subject, that together, convey a meaning when they’re put together coherently. Sentences can be statements, questions, or instructions in any tense. They typically start with a capital letter and end in a full stop (period), question mark, or, in the case of an imperative instruction, an exclamation point.
Sentences that don’t adhere to the above rules or that sound dull when read can be improved. This is what is meant by improving sentence structure.
Improving sentence structure: Parts of a sentence
Some sentences are very short or even constructed of just one word such as, ‘Why?’. However, in most cases, the sentence contains a subject-verb agreement, where the subject represents someone or something acting out the verb.
These are all the building blocks or compounds constructing sentences. Writers can organize sentences in different ways, as depicted in the following examples:
Sub-clauses can add extra information and detail to sentences such as shown in the following:
Note: Sub-clauses are dependent clauses, meaning they don’t form complete sentences. When they’re on their own, they are known as sentence fragments, i.e., incomplete sentences.
The following examples show how different types of parentheses can help improving sentence structure.
Improving sentence structure: Different types of sentences
Sentences can be basic or complex. Improving sentence structure entails finding a balance between these two, as shown in the following examples:
In this example, all the sentences are short and rhythmically similar. While technically correct, they could be merged into a single, more complex sentence, such as:
However, overly complex sentences can become unreadable like in the example below:
In this sentence, there’s a list of shopping and some events that go back and forth in time. It’d be preferable to split up these ideas into new sentences, aiming for improving the sentence structure and more clarity.
Of course, there are multiple ways of improving sentence structure when simplifying one long, complex sentence. Therefore, there is always a degree of personal preference and style when it comes to improving sentence structure.
How to fix sentence structure problems
Improving a sentence structure often means fixing common problems like those outlined above. To be clear, improving sentence structure can be done in many ways. These are just some of the most common examples of improving sentence structure that academics and teachers face when marking the work of students.
Sentences with a parallel structure use the same grammatical construction throughout and are best avoided. Improving the sentence structure of this example would mean altering it to an extent that the parallel uses of the verb forms ending in “-ing” are no longer present.
When incorrect prepositions are used to link two parts of a sentence together. Improving sentence structure in cases of wrong coordination typically means choosing the right, most relevant preposition.
Run-on sentences describe two sentences that are fused or that have a comma separating two clauses without the correct conjunction.
- Proofread your writing, looking for common errors like wrong coordination.
- Avoid repeating words where alternatives are available.
- Change the lengths of sentences, so they’re not all the same.
Improving the sentence structure of written work is important because it will help to make your writing more engaging, helping you to make your points in a way that is more interesting and possibly gaining better marks.
Words like “however”, “moreover”, and “hence” can be used at the start of one sentence to better reflect the previous sentence, thereby improving the sentence structure of each.
Try to leave your writing for a few hours or overnight before reading it to find ways of improving sentence structure. If you’re in an exam and want to improve your sentence structure, then allow a few minutes to make some edits.