Hello once again! In a previous post by Mrs Chew, she mentioned the different ways that a sentence can be started. Today, I am going to focus on making your writing more interesting by adding longer or more complex sentences. If your child is learning to move on from simple sentence structures or have been told that his or her sentences are always the same, this post with two simple tips will be a good start to help them form longer and more interesting sentences.
One way to be a good writer is to have a variety of sentences. This means that your writing should be made up of short as well as long sentences. Some sentences are simple while others are more complex.
Read the paragraphs below. What makes Paragraph B better than A?
You will notice that Paragraph A is mainly made up of short or simple sentences. Most of the sentences also begin the same way, either using ‘I’ or ‘she’. They follow the most common pattern: subject-verb-object.
Although using short or simple sentences can create a powerful effect, remember that having only one type of sentence can be rather tiresome for the reader. Also, using short or simple sentences all the time may make your writing appear disjointed because the ideas do not seem connected to one another.
I am going to show you two ways that you can write a more complex sentence and will use Paragraph B as an example.
1. Joining two simple sentences using Connectors
Using two simple sentences in Paragraph A:
I sat down gratefully on the bench. I noticed an elderly lady trying to cross the road in front of me.
Notice how in Paragraph B these two sentences are joined by ‘as’:
As I sat down gratefully on the bench, I noticed an elderly lady trying to cross the road in front of me.
Using connectors not only allow you to create a longer sentence but they also show how the two ideas are related to each other. In this instance, it shows what happened when the writer sat on the bench.
However, avoid trying to join more than two or three ideas in one sentence. This will make the sentence too complicated and you are more likely to make more grammatical errors if your sentence is too long.
2. Joining two simple sentences using the Present Participle
Using two simple sentences in Paragraph A:
She ignored the ‘no crossing’ sign. She tottered unsteadily onto the road.
Instead of starting both sentences with ‘she’, use the present participle to join the two sentences:
Ignoring the ‘no crossing’ sign, she tottered unsteadily onto the road.
Using the present participle helps to break the monotony of using the typical subject-verb-object pattern. Remember that you can use the present participle in these two ways:
- to join two actions that occur at the same time and done by the same person. For example:
He hummed to himself. He walked down the street.
Humming to himself, he walked down the street.
2. to replace a phrase starting with ‘as’, ‘since’ or ‘because’. For example:
She was hungry. She decided to cook dinner.
Feeling hungry, she decided to cook dinner.
[Instead of: She decided to cook dinner because she was hungry.]
For a more advanced writer, you can even consider combining the two ways I have suggested. For instance, look at this last sentence in Paragraph B:
I was filled with anxiety as I watched her hobble slowly across the road, fearing for her safety.
The writer has combined three short sentences using a connector and a present participle.
When combining short sentences to make a longer one, one important thing to remember is to use the correct connector or participle. Also, NEVER use commas to join your ideas. For instance:
I sat down gratefully on the bench, I noticed an elderly lady trying to cross the road in front of me, she had a huge bag slung across her bony shoulders.
You cannot join sentences in this manner because commas are used to separate words in a series of items. They are not meant to connect ideas. In this example, the writer should either separate each idea with a full stop or use proper connectors.
Read the paragraph below. Use the two ways you have learnt in this post to write more complex sentences.
Is your paragraph similar to the one below? The words in bold are the connectors and present participle verbs that we have used to form the longer sentences. This is not the only way to improve on the paragraph above. You may have chosen other connectors or used only one present participle. As long as the sentences are connected logically and are not too long (remember, maximum of 2 or 3 ideas per sentence!), it is fine.
I hope I have provided useful tips that you can use to improve your writing. See you again soon!
About the Author: Nora is an English Teacher at Lil' but Mighty. She is committed to providing students with a dynamic and nurturing environment in which they can grow and develop. One of her greatest strengths as an educator is instilling a love for the English Language in her students.