Sentence Combining

A follow up to the second writing project and to our editing focus on sentence variation: take a look at the discussion of Sentence Combining in the Guide to Grammar and Writing. I mentioned this as a way to move from lots of shorter sentences toward more variation of longer and shorter. It will also give you some ways to be thinking about using commas (and introductory phrases such as participial and absolute phrases) to greater effect in your writing.

As one example, notice the opening sentence of the second paragraph in Katie’s essay. She uses what is technically called an absolute phrase. Forget the terminology, just consider how it provides some variety, how it sets up the focus of the sentence, and how it is more engaging than having 2 or more shorter sentences. I also find in Katie’s essay a good example of an introductory paragraph that establishes its thesis right away, strongly, and effectively incorporates context and summary quickly so that the rest of the essay can focus on interpretation and elaboration.


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