How to improve your sentence construction?

Some grammar rules (and embarrassing mistakes!) transcend the uniqueness of different regions and style guides. This new International Grammar section by OnlineBookClub.org ultimately identifies those rules thus providing a simple, flexible rule-set, respecting the differences between regions and style guides. You can feel free to ask general questions about spelling and grammar. You can also provide example sentences for other members to proofread and inform you of any grammar mistakes.
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Eteru
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How to improve your sentence construction?

Post by Eteru » 17 Nov 2018, 21:33

Can you lend some tips on improving your sentence construction? What are the important points that a writer must keep in mind? I do want to provide some best quality reviews, but I still lack in some aspects.

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jgraney8
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Post by jgraney8 » 22 Nov 2018, 23:59

You might find my post on the four types of sentences in the International Grammar section useful if you haven't already seen it. It may be more basic than what you are looking for.
“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.”
― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

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Post by VandaQ » 23 Nov 2018, 03:46

Hi, I found that with sentence composition, it's a bit like Occam's razor: the simplest solution is the most probable one. So, the easiest construction is probably going to convey your idea better, as it takes less time to wrap your head around it. That doesn't mean you can't have complex sentences. One thing I would look out for is the connectives in a sentence, because their role is to link parts of a sentence and sentences together.

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Post by Edwardsoi1213 » 06 Dec 2018, 06:11

Most people look for flashiest and most complicated sentences, I understand this due to our kind of work but the best and easiest way is to make it short and sweet which is quite a task because of the overthinking and re-checking the whole review but in my opinion its best not to overdo it.

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Post by jgraney8 » 10 Dec 2018, 19:56

A general guideline I try to follow is to use simple and direct sentences to express main ideas. Supporting information sometimes calls for sentences that need additional support within them. For example, I might write this book makes a terrific argument for tolerance for my main idea. In the supporting information I might use a compound sentence to show two or three similar examples or a complex sentence for a hypothetical example. But always, I try to keep in the forefront the subject and verb of the clause no matter what kind of sentence I write.
“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.”
― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

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Eteru
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Post by Eteru » 21 Dec 2018, 10:11

jgraney8 wrote:
22 Nov 2018, 23:59
You might find my post on the four types of sentences in the International Grammar section useful if you haven't already seen it. It may be more basic than what you are looking for.
Thank you so much, I will surely check it out.

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Eteru
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Post by Eteru » 21 Dec 2018, 10:12

VandaQ wrote:
23 Nov 2018, 03:46
Hi, I found that with sentence composition, it's a bit like Occam's razor: the simplest solution is the most probable one. So, the easiest construction is probably going to convey your idea better, as it takes less time to wrap your head around it. That doesn't mean you can't have complex sentences. One thing I would look out for is the connectives in a sentence, because their role is to link parts of a sentence and sentences together.
Thank you for this! I'll keep this in mind.

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Eteru
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Post by Eteru » 21 Dec 2018, 10:13

Edwardsoi1213 wrote:
06 Dec 2018, 06:11
Most people look for flashiest and most complicated sentences, I understand this due to our kind of work but the best and easiest way is to make it short and sweet which is quite a task because of the overthinking and re-checking the whole review but in my opinion its best not to overdo it.
Thank you for your advice!

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Eteru
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Post by Eteru » 21 Dec 2018, 10:22

jgraney8 wrote:
10 Dec 2018, 19:56
A general guideline I try to follow is to use simple and direct sentences to express main ideas. Supporting information sometimes calls for sentences that need additional support within them. For example, I might write this book makes a terrific argument for tolerance for my main idea. In the supporting information I might use a compound sentence to show two or three similar examples or a complex sentence for a hypothetical example. But always, I try to keep in the forefront the subject and verb of the clause no matter what kind of sentence I write.
I tend to use complex sentences when writing, as I thought this would make my content more appealing to readers. However, my ideas might have been too complicated to understand. Well, I'll keep your advice in mind! Thank you so much.

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Espie
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Post by Espie » 28 Dec 2018, 21:14

Eteru wrote:
21 Dec 2018, 10:22
jgraney8 wrote:
10 Dec 2018, 19:56
A general guideline I try to follow is to use simple and direct sentences to express main ideas. Supporting information sometimes calls for sentences that need additional support within them. For example, I might write this book makes a terrific argument for tolerance for my main idea. In the supporting information, I might use a compound sentence to show two or three similar examples or a complex sentence for a hypothetical example. But always, I try to keep in the forefront the subject and verb of the clause no matter what kind of sentence I write.
I tend to use complex sentences when writing, as I thought this would make my content more appealing to readers. However, my ideas might have been too complicated to understand. Well, I'll keep your advice in mind! Thank you so much.
I agree with @jgraney8 that:
-Simplicity (but not to the point of being too simplistic) is a safer option; and,
-Other sentence structures are also useful.

Like you, I tend to write non-simple sentences for my reviews as well. Thus, based on what I've learned and experienced here in OnlineBookClub.org (OBC) and if you also prefer to stick to your personal writing style, I think the following may help:

A. Plan your review well; come up with a thought outline for your paragraphs. The following example is one of the many ways of doing that:

Paragraph 1:
-Introduction
-Brief summary
Paragraph 2:
-Rating for the book
-Summary of reasons for the rating
Paragraph 3:
-Reason 1: Plot, flow, and theme
Paragraph 4:
-Reason 2: Setting, characters, and point of view (POV)
Paragraph 5:
-Other required details to comply with the Review Team Guidelines (i.e. review-team/guidelines.php)
-Conclusion

B. To fill in each paragraph of the above sample:

1. Clearly identify your main and supporting sentences. For example, you could have the following in paragraph 3:
-Sentence 1: Main sentence
-Sentence 2: Your thoughts about the book's plot and examples to support your viewpoint
-Sentence 3: Your thoughts about the book's flow and examples to support your viewpoint
-Sentence 4: Your thoughts about the book's theme and examples to support your viewpoint
-Sentence 5: Summary of your paragraph's points

2. Use transition words to connect one thought to another (e.g. https://www.smart-words.org/linking-wor ... words.html). Be wary of common errors, e.g. using coordinating conjunctions when conjunctive adverbs are more acceptable as discussed in the following thread: viewtopic.php?f=72&t=92480.

3. Focus on "parallelism." The internet has a lot of references on how to do that (e.g. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/parallelism/) and practice exercises to test learning or existing knowledge (e.g. https://www.oupcanada.com/higher_educat ... elism.html).

4. Unless extremely necessary, limit:
-The number of sentences in a paragraph (but try to avoid having only one); and,
-The total number of words in the entire review (but ensure you've got the minimum required by the Guidelines, i.e. review-team/guidelines.php). I write lengthy reviews, too, but they don't seem to be too popular with some editors and other readers.

C. If your review outline is very obvious, I think the reader will still get the flow of your thoughts even if you use compound, complex or compound-complex sentences. (For others curious to know the differences between those sentence structure types, here's the link to @jgraney8's very helpful post: viewtopic.php?f=72&t=85430.)

D. Now that your paragraphs had been filled in, you may already focus on the "aesthetics" (along with editing and repeated proofreading). Use your creative touches to make your review less robotic unless it's deliberately meant to be stylistic (e.g. you're trying to capture the essence, tempo or tone of a fictional book on a robot in a portion of your review). I couldn't see anything in our current OBC Guidelines, which should prevent you from doing that yet.

Your online checker, thesaurus, dictionary, style guide, and other writing references will also help at this point because correct spelling and grammar will matter, too.

I hope this helps. However, as I believe in teamwork and what I've written are just my "subjective" viewpoints, which may or may not appeal to editors or other readers, I would also like to know what you and our other colleagues think.
"Life has many different chapters for us. One bad chapter doesn't mean it's the end of the book."-Unknown
"To err is human; to forgive, divine."-Alexander Pope
"Put GOD first; He'll bless your efforts with success."-Proverbs

User avatar
Eteru
Posts: 37
Joined: 19 Oct 2018, 08:07
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Post by Eteru » 29 Dec 2018, 11:13

Espie wrote:
28 Dec 2018, 21:14
Eteru wrote:
21 Dec 2018, 10:22
jgraney8 wrote:
10 Dec 2018, 19:56
A general guideline I try to follow is to use simple and direct sentences to express main ideas. Supporting information sometimes calls for sentences that need additional support within them. For example, I might write this book makes a terrific argument for tolerance for my main idea. In the supporting information, I might use a compound sentence to show two or three similar examples or a complex sentence for a hypothetical example. But always, I try to keep in the forefront the subject and verb of the clause no matter what kind of sentence I write.
I tend to use complex sentences when writing, as I thought this would make my content more appealing to readers. However, my ideas might have been too complicated to understand. Well, I'll keep your advice in mind! Thank you so much.
I agree with @jgraney8 that:
-Simplicity (but not to the point of being too simplistic) is a safer option; and,
-Other sentence structures are also useful.

Like you, I tend to write non-simple sentences for my reviews as well. Thus, based on what I've learned and experienced here in OnlineBookClub.org (OBC) and if you also prefer to stick to your personal writing style, I think the following may help:

A. Plan your review well; come up with a thought outline for your paragraphs. The following example is one of the many ways of doing that:

Paragraph 1:
-Introduction
-Brief summary
Paragraph 2:
-Rating for the book
-Summary of reasons for the rating
Paragraph 3:
-Reason 1: Plot, flow, and theme
Paragraph 4:
-Reason 2: Setting, characters, and point of view (POV)
Paragraph 5:
-Other required details to comply with the Review Team Guidelines (i.e. review-team/guidelines.php)
-Conclusion

B. To fill in each paragraph of the above sample:

1. Clearly identify your main and supporting sentences. For example, you could have the following in paragraph 3:
-Sentence 1: Main sentence
-Sentence 2: Your thoughts about the book's plot and examples to support your viewpoint
-Sentence 3: Your thoughts about the book's flow and examples to support your viewpoint
-Sentence 4: Your thoughts about the book's theme and examples to support your viewpoint
-Sentence 5: Summary of your paragraph's points

2. Use transition words to connect one thought to another (e.g. https://www.smart-words.org/linking-wor ... words.html). Be wary of common errors, e.g. using coordinating conjunctions when conjunctive adverbs are more acceptable as discussed in the following thread: viewtopic.php?f=72&t=92480.

3. Focus on "parallelism." The internet has a lot of references on how to do that (e.g. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/parallelism/) and practice exercises to test learning or existing knowledge (e.g. https://www.oupcanada.com/higher_educat ... elism.html).

4. Unless extremely necessary, limit:
-The number of sentences in a paragraph (but try to avoid having only one); and,
-The total number of words in the entire review (but ensure you've got the minimum required by the Guidelines, i.e. review-team/guidelines.php). I write lengthy reviews, too, but they don't seem to be too popular with some editors and other readers.

C. If your review outline is very obvious, I think the reader will still get the flow of your thoughts even if you use compound, complex or compound-complex sentences. (For others curious to know the differences between those sentence structure types, here's the link to @jgraney8's very helpful post: viewtopic.php?f=72&t=85430.)

D. Now that your paragraphs had been filled in, you may already focus on the "aesthetics" (along with editing and repeated proofreading). Use your creative touches to make your review less robotic unless it's deliberately meant to be stylistic (e.g. you're trying to capture the essence, tempo or tone of a fictional book on a robot in a portion of your review). I couldn't see anything in our current OBC Guidelines, which should prevent you from doing that yet.

Your online checker, thesaurus, dictionary, style guide, and other writing references will also help at this point because correct spelling and grammar will matter, too.

I hope this helps. However, as I believe in teamwork and what I've written are just my "subjective" viewpoints, which may or may not appeal to editors or other readers, I would also like to know what you and our other colleagues think.
Your tips gave me so much idea. Thank you so much for your help, I truly appreciate it!

User avatar
Espie
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 4115
Joined: 05 May 2018, 06:36
2019 Reading Goal: 12
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 125
2018 Reading Goal: 12
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 116
Favorite Book: Behind the Barbed Wire Fence
Currently Reading: Whisper In MY Ear
Bookshelf Size: 117
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-espie.html
Latest Review: Why Me: Trash Collector, Mental Issues by Nikolay N Bey

Post by Espie » 29 Dec 2018, 19:12

Eteru wrote:
29 Dec 2018, 11:13
Your tips gave me so much idea. Thank you so much for your help, I truly appreciate it!
You're welcome. A great New Year to all of us!
"Life has many different chapters for us. One bad chapter doesn't mean it's the end of the book."-Unknown
"To err is human; to forgive, divine."-Alexander Pope
"Put GOD first; He'll bless your efforts with success."-Proverbs

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