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What Makes a Good Sentence?
A good sentence expresses a complete thought, and can clearly communicate an idea. However, there are a variety of other components that contribute to good sentence construction:
- A good sentence is a complete sentence. A complete sentence requires a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought—also known as an independent clause. This element of sentence structure can stand on its own, expressing an idea without the need for additional information. For example: “Parents worry about their children.” This sentence is complete, and conveys a clear idea.
- A good sentence conjures a particular mood. Especially when trying to appeal to your reader’s sensibilities, proper use of emotion in your sentences can make all the difference as to whether your audience feels what you want them to or not. This is particularly useful in many business writing fields like copywriting and marketing, where establishing an emotional connection with the reader can address their wishes—or fears—and compel them to take action or buy into what you’re selling.
- A good sentence paints a picture. Using strong sensory imagery will create a vivid image for your reader. It doesn’t provide too much information that insults your audience’s imagination, but it gives enough detail that is necessary for the message you are trying to send. A single sentence can become much more potent when there is a powerful visual attached to it.
- A good sentence has flow. How you word sentences dictates their pacing, and the cadence of a good sentence should be unmarred by poor punctuation or wordiness. A reader should not have to go back and re-read a sentence to understand the idea behind it, it should be conveyed clearly and not convoluted by complex diction.
6 Tips for Writing Good Sentences
If you know how to write sentences, you’re on your way to writing good sentences. There are many writing tips available for those looking to craft better sentences:
- Keep it simple. Long sentences or overly complex sentences don’t necessarily make sophisticated sentence writing. Sometimes a simple sentence can pack a powerful punch. Know how to eliminate fluff and adjust syntax to fit your writing style and target audience. An easily digestible message makes for better communication.
- Use concrete rhetoric. If you’re trying to inspire movement or change, you don’t want to describe something as “sort of” important, especially if you’re trying to get people to donate to a cause, or protest an event. Use direct language to deliver a strong image, convey significance, and create an emotional appeal—whatever your point is, it should be your audience’s biggest priority right now.
- Employ parallelism. Sentences are easier and more pleasant to read if there is an agreement in their grammatical structure, particularly when it comes to lists. This principle is known as parallelism, parallel structure or parallel construction. Successful parallelism: “The finale was illogical, rushed, and disappointing.” (Three adjectives.)
- Mind your grammar. The best sentences don’t suffer from things like passive voice, run-on sentences, or typos. Sometimes you accidentally write an incomplete sentence, or inadvertently form fragments while editing and rewriting. Be sure to identify any incomplete sentences that may be lurking throughout your writing. Proper grammar helps give writing a more polished feel.
- Properly punctuate. The right punctuation can make or break the rhythm of a single sentence. Ensure your periods, commas, hyphens, semi-colons, and any other punctuative tools are implemented correctly. Even if you’re just advice blogging for a small group of readers online, you want your writing to appear sophisticated and taken seriously, so pay attention to your punctuation.
- Practice writing. Improvement only happens with practice. Perform writing exercises that focus on your sentence structure and how you phrase your ideas. The more you practice writing sentences, the better you’ll become.
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