ESL and IELTS Help 4 U

Playing with sentences

Posted on: November 12, 2010

Learning to write well in English is challenging!

Many students struggle with forming a sentence with a proper subject and verb.

But a good writer must go beyond this point.

After the first draft of an essay, a good writer looks at each point the essay is making and every sentence used to make that point.  Do all the sentences look the same?

Dan is an engineer. He studied very hard for many years. He went to Chiang Mai University and graduated from the Faculty of Engineering. His father is an engineer, too. Dan’s father told him about being an engineer. Dan was interested and decided to become an engineer. An engineer has to be good at mathematics. Dan was not good at math. Dan’s father hired a tutor to help him. Dan is grateful to his tutor for helping him become good at math. He is not sure he would have passed mathematics without his tutor. Dan knows his tutor helped him to become a good engineer.

There is nothing wrong with this paragraph. Each sentence is correct. But the structure of each sentence is the same. A few changes make the paragraph better.

As a young boy, Dan already wanted to become an engineer. His father, who was an engineer all his life, told Dan many interesting stories about his career. Dan liked these stories and decided he would become an engineer, too. But there was one problem. In order to become an engineer, Dan had to be good at mathematics. He wasn’t. He struggled in math at school. So Dan’s father hired a tutor, and Dan spent many extra hours studying with his tutor to improve his math. Finally, after many years of hard work, Dan graduated from Chiang Mai University with an engineering degree. Dan will always be grateful to his tutor for helping him fulfill his dream.

This second paragraph uses different sentence structures. Different structures make the thoughts flow more smoothly.

Some sentences are long. Others are short which makes the paragraph more interesting to read.

New words have been used to add interest. The idea of Dan “fulfilling his dream” adds emotion to the paragraph. Telling us that Dan struggled brings the reader into the paragraph because we all know what it means to struggle.

Finally, the points in the paragraph were rearranged. The second paragraph begins with Dan’s childhood and takes the reader from there to graduation. This helps the reader because it begins at the beginning and takes the reader through to Dan’s graduation.

There are many ways this paragraph can be written. But hopefully, this example of varying sentence structure will be useful the next time you are writing an essay.

I know that working on your sentences means that you have to work longer and harder. But as you practice, it will get easier and easier. You’ll begin to think differently, and creative sentences will be the first sentences you think of when you’re writing the first draft.

It’s not easy but it is very rewarding! You will know that your writing is the best it can be.

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