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How to Add Sentence Variety: 4 Things to Look For

It’s been said that variety is the spice of life. When writing for an audience, it’s important to make your writing interesting and engaging for your reader. One way to do this is through sentence variety. To add that extra spice to your writing, here are four things that you should look at in regard to your sentences:

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Sentence Length

Using about the same sentence length throughout your entire paper will reduce the chances that something will stand out in your writing. If you have lots of short sentences in a row, your writing will come off as choppy. On the other hand, lots of long sentences in a row can be difficult and boring to read.

To check the sentence length in your writing, go through your paper and count the number of words in each sentence. Make a list. Are all the numbers the same? Do you have too many long sentences? Are there lots of short sentences in a row? If so, consider combining a few sentences or breaking down longer ones to add more sentence variety.

Sentence Structure

A typical sentence follows this format: subject-verb-object. To add variety, mix up your sentence structure. Some ways to do this include:

  • Starting with an adverb.

    Examples:
    Suddenly she jumped to her feet and ran to the door.
    Unfailingly, he arrives at work at 6 AM every morning.
     

  • Beginning the sentence with a prepositional phrase (a phrase that modifies a noun or verb).

    Examples:
    In the garden, she worked to clear out the weeds and deadhead the flowers.
    Before purchasing a new couch, it’s important to measure your doorway.
     

  • Inverting the subject and verb in the sentence.

    Examples:
    Sprinting to the train, she made it just before the doors closed.
    Using baking soda and vinegar, you can unclog your shower drain.

First Words

Pay attention to the way you start each sentence. If you constantly start with the same word or two, your readers are going to get bored.

To check your writing, make a list of the first word in each sentence. Are there any times that you repeat the same word several times in a row? Is there a word or two that you use a lot to start sentences in your writing? If so, add some variety by rewording the sentences and finding a new way to start each one.

Punctuation

There are four types of sentences: declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, and imperative. Have you used each type? If every sentence is declarative, you may want to add a few interrogative sentences or maybe work in an exclamatory or imperative sentence, if applicable. Try to refrain from using any one type too much.

You can also use commas, dashes, semicolons, colons, parentheses, and other punctuation to add variety. Just make sure to use all punctuation marks correctly.

Adding sentence variety to your writing is one way to keep your audience engaged and interested. Check the sentence length, sentence structure, first words, punctuation, and our Professional Writing lessons to determine what you can do to spice up your writing.

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

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