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How to Avoid (and Improve) Choppy Sentences in Your Writing

Although short sentences can pack a powerful punch in your writing, too many in a row become distracting to the reader. Choppy sentences may make your ideas seem disconnected, and your writing seem unsophisticated. If you find that you have a lot of short, choppy sentences in your writing, here are five ways to improve them.

Conjunctions

Try combining sentences using a conjunction. Some conjunctions you could use are:

  • And
  • But
  • Or
  • Nor
  • Yet
  • For
  • So

When combining two complete sentences, make sure that you use a comma, too. For example:

Before: We need to contact the doctor’s office. We should try to get an appointment right away.

After: We need to contact the doctor’s office, and we should try to get an appointment right away.

Subordination

Subordination involves combining a main idea with an incomplete clause using a connector. This helps show how the two sentences work together. The connector is typically a word like after, although, because, even though, if, since, though, unless, whereas, and which. For example:

Before: Don’t forget to wash your hands before handling food. You don’t want to contaminate it.

After: Since you don’t want to contaminate the food, don’t forget to wash your hands before handling it.

Appositives

Appositives are phrases that add extra information about a noun in the sentence. Rather than use a separate sentence to provide information about that noun, you can include it right after mentioning it:

Before: Buzz Aldrin was an astronaut. He was the second person to walk on the moon.

After: Buzz Aldrin, an astronaut, was the second person to walk on the moon.
When using appositives in a sentence, don’t forget to set the phrase apart with commas.

Modifying Phrases

Another way to combine two sentences is by turning one of them into a modifying phrase. This involves using a verb in the –ing form. The modifying phrase needs to modify a word in the sentence or it will become a dangling modifier.

Before: The politician spoke to the high school students. She urged them to get informed and get involved with their local government.

After: The politician spoke to the high school students, urging them to get informed and get involved with their local government.

Reworked Ideas

You can also combine multiple sentences by reworking the ideas. Think about ways to combine several sentences into one long sentence. For example:

Before: The boy got sidetracked on his way to school. He was six years old. He ended up at a park this morning.

After: The six-year-old boy ended up at the park rather than going to school this morning.

You can manipulate the sentence and move phrases around to find the best way to convey your ideas to the reader.

When writing, it’s important to remember that variety is one of the keys to keeping your reader’s attention. Spice up your writing with a mixture of long and short sentences, so you don’t end up with lots of choppy sentences that could distract your reader.

P.S. Become a better writer. Find out more here.

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