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Professional Long Sentences: Some Guidelines

Though I always maintained in my posts how effective concise sentences can be, there are times when you need to make professional-looking long sentences. Here, we will see some guidelines to combine short sentences (primer style of writing) to form longer ones, using more diverse forms of grammar.

Primer Style of Writing

Joe is the name of Harry’s brother. He is a doctor. He saved fifteen lives. His wife’s name is Sarah. Sarah is an entrepreneur. She lives in Pennsylvania. They have two sons. They are both three years old. They are twins.

This is an example of primer style of writing, which involves a greater use of simple sentences. Simple sentences are those which have a subject and predicate and nothing else as in the above passage.

A writer’s style should be unique and diverse in terms of using language. Simple sentences are good, but they should be limited. Also, a short sentence should be defined not by the length of the sentence, but by the efficiency of space.
For instance:

Harry graduated to be a doctor from a university situated in the suburbs of Australia, and afterwards he came back to his home country in order to start practicing as a doctor.

Rewritten:

Harry, after graduating in medicine from an Australian suburban university, came back to his home country to practice.

The rewritten sentence is not exactly short, especially since it is two lines long. But it cannot obviously be made still shorter. So, it is a concise sentence. A good writing style involves a thoughtful mix of simple, concise, and complex sentences.

Tips to Combine Short Sentences

If you have passages with nothing more than simple sentences as in the above passage in primer style of writing, you should combine them to get longer, more professional sentences. Here are the ways for that.

1. Use Conjunctions

Conjunctions like ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘if’, ‘since’, ‘though’, ‘for’, etc., should be used to combine two sentences to form a longer sentence. Using conjunctions, you can make one of the sentences a subordinate clause of the other. In this case, you need a comma (please read about comma splice and run-on sentences to know more).
Example:

Jack has two brothers. They are Harry and Joe.
Jack has two brothers, and they are Harry and Joe.

The train started early. We couldn’t reach the place in time.
Though the train started early, we couldn’t reach the place in time.


See how I used the conjunctions, 'and' and 'though' in the above sentences. You should learn the particulars of some conjunctions to use them effectively in sentences.

2. Use Participial or Absolute Phrases

You can make participial and absolute phrases to connect ideas in a sentence. Participial phrases are those phrases, in which a noun is modified with a present (–ing form) or past participle (–ed form). Such phrases can be used in sentences to modify certain nouns and make them complex.
Example:

Ali reached late. He was not allowed in.
Having reached late, Ali was not allowed in.

She can secure the first rank. But she has to work harder.
Working harder, she can secure the first rank.


Absolute phrases are those containing a noun/pronoun, participles, and other modifiers that modify the complete sentence rather than a specific word in the sentence. They can be effectively used in combining sentences.
Example:

The team was defeated. However, they returned to the pavilion with heads held high.
Their heads held high though defeated, the team returned to the pavilion.

None of Jim’s wishes was fulfilled. But he didn’t give up faith in God.
None of his wishes fulfilled, Jim still never gave up faith in God.

Not to be confused with dangling modifiers, please read the dangling modifier article.

3. Appositive Phrases

Appositive phrases modify one of the words within the sentence. With appositives, you can easily combine two simple sentences about a single noun.
Example:

George Washington is the first president of America. He played an instrumental role in American Revolution.
George Washington, the first president of the US, played an instrumental role in American Revolution.


This way, you can easily merge several simple sentences.

Some More Examples on Merging Sentences

Jim Carrey is one of our favorite actors. He has revolutionized comic roles. He acted in several films. Bruce Almighty is one among them.

Merged: One of our favorite actors, Jim Carrey, who acted in several films and revolutionized comic roles, was the lead star of the film, Bruce Almighty.

Charlie Chaplin directed and acted in The Great Dictator. It is one of the most hilarious films in 20th century. It mocks the German dictator, Adolf Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini equally.


Merged: Sir Charlie Chaplin directed and acted in The Great Dictator, one of the most hilarious films in the 20th century, that equally mocks the German dictator Adolf Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. The monster of Frankenstein formed inspiration for Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein series.


Merged: Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, the monster of which formed inspiration for Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein series.

I use MS Word to write my posts. I use another piece of software to format the posts. I don’t use spellchecking software from Blogger.

Merged: Having written my posts on MS Word, I use another piece of software to format them, and don’t use spellchecking tool by Blogger.

Conclusion

Having a diverse ability with language is important for all writers. Combine your sentences well using your arsenal of grammar. It’s fun and enlightening, and it will keep your readers from getting bored. The great advantage of this is that you can reduce or increase the length of paragraphs as needed.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

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