Very long sentences can be exhausting for your reader. If you have too many very long sentences in your writing, your reader will struggle to remember what you're trying to say and to engage with your ideas. Break your very long sentences into shorter sentences to help your reader.
You can shorten long sentences by:
1. Separating independent clauses
Look for conjunctions like "and" in your sentences and see if the part after the "and" could be written as an individual sentence.
2. Eliminating extra clauses
Remove sentence starts such as "in my opinion", "as a matter of fact", "as far as I am concerned". They add nothing to your sentence.
3. Cutting out glue words
Glue words are the 200 or so most common words in the English language. They're grammatically correct, but often make your sentences unnecessarily long.
4. Look for repetition and redundancy
Have you called something a "true fact"? Find places where you've repeated the same idea three times or used unnecessary words that you can easily remove.
How to Cut Glue Words from Your Sentences
In every sentence, there are "working" words and "glue" words. Working words are words that are essential to the meaning of your sentence. Think subjects, verbs, objects. Glue words, on the other hand, are words that hold your sentence together and help it make sense. They're not necessary to convey your meaning—if you rewrite your sentence without glue words and have the same working words, it will still make sense.
Very long sentences are often overstuffed with glue words. These extra words make the sentence difficult to read and needlessly complex. If you reduce the number of glue words in your sentences, you can make your sentences shorter and easier to understand.
Here's an example of a sentence with a lot of glue words:
- It doesn't matter what kind of coffee I buy, where it's from, or if it's organic or not, I need to have cream because I really don't like how the bitterness makes me feel.
This sentence is long and complicated. There are lots of extra words and thoughts in it. Here's what it looks like rewritten:
- I add cream to my coffee because the bitter taste makes me feel unwell.
This second sentence says exactly the same thing (that the narrator adds cream to their coffee to get rid of the bitter taste) but it does so in half the words, making it clearer and easier for the reader to understand. If you have very long sentences, try rewriting them to remove glue words.