• Vanita Pal

3 Ways Of Using Long Sentences in a Sentence Structure

Using long sentences is part and parcel of the Continuous writing paper. Paper 1 has marked out Continuous writing as an exhaustive and skilled writing exercise which must meet the standards set out by the O level exams.

Whether it is an Argumentative/Expository, or a Narrative/Reflective/Personal Recount essay, it is important that descriptions are compactly laid out. In order to do this well, long sentences should be used to fully describe and enforce the idea which is being explained in that essay. Though use of short sentence may be a simpler way of approaching this task, it may not be the best idea to use those all the time as the essay will appear unformed and unsophisticated.


There are 3 Main Ways of Using Long Sentences in a Sentence Structure

1. sub clauses – 2 sub clauses must pick up the thread of the description

2. Multiple sub clauses must be connected and elaborate on current information

3. check punctuation and connectors


Use of sub clauses or multiple phrases within a sentence is a prerequisite when you are tyring to flesh out the full meaning of your point. There may be two or even three sub clauses which form the sentence extensions. The more sub clauses you use, the more careful you will have to be with sentence connectors (prepositions/conjunctions) and use of singular plural verbs. There is a tendency for students to make extensive mistakes when writing long sentences as they lose the thread of the original noun or subject which the clauses are supposed to be describing.

Sub clauses

Let us examine a sub clause in this example.

1. Mr Robert Zemecki who had accidentally left his hat on the hook at his usual barber’s decided to collect it later after his shopping at Tepso’s supermarket.

There are 2 main points of interest or clauses here.

a)Mr Robert Zemecki had accidentally left his hat on the hook at his usual barber’s.

b) He decided to collect it later after his shopping at Tepso’s supermarket.

Both clauses are connected well and the meaning is clear. The main point in using 2 clauses within a sentence instead of breaking it up is to show refinement and mastery of writing.

All students writing for the Continuous writing paper are expected to be sufficiently proficient in this area.

Use of just 2 sub clauses can actually be easily done without any spelling mistakes. In fact, most essays are written like this.


Multiple sub clauses


Use of multiple sub clauses shows more skill in writing. There should be more concentration on the main focus in the sentence. It is only if students are sure of using this that they should attempt using such a sentence.

Example

Rene’s anguish had no depth to it as it had been the umpteenth time that Felix had rescheduled their wedding dinner preview and though she had to meet the public relations officer repeatedly to postpone it, her main humiliation lay in having to mention to her in-laws, who were of Icelandic origin, that the dinner reservations had been cancelled.

There are multiple clauses here.

a) Rene’s anguish had no depth to it

b) it had been the umpteenth time that Felix had rescheduled their wedding dinner preview

c) she had to meet the public relations officer repeatedly to postpone it

d) her main humiliation lay in having to mention to her in-laws that dinner reservations had been cancelled

e) they were of Icelandic origin.

The main point in using sub clauses like these is that it adds to the subtlety of the sentence structure and the maturing of the main character, who in this case is Rene, is enhanced. There is more depth to the writing and it adds to the quality of the writing.

Check punctuation and connectors


Making sure that punctuations are used at the correct places is of prime importance. The main punctuation being used in sub clauses in a long sentence is a ‘comma’. The commas actually separate the main clause from the other sub clauses. It also tells the reader that one portion is the main portion and the other is just a tiny piece of additional information.

Eg

“…her main humiliation lay in having to mention to her in-laws, who were of Icelandic origin, that the dinner reservations had been cancelled.”

The main clause is the bolded part. The humiliation in having to mention to her in-laws that dinner reservations had cancelled.

The italicised words have the tiny piece of additional information.

The sentence may just as easily have been written without the tiny piece of information but it adds to the charm and interest of the story. That they were of Icelandic origin somehow makes the anguish of Rene’s even greater as they seem so foreign or out of reach of her ability to smoothen matters.

It also adds to the excitement in the story and the suspense is enhanced.

Connectors

These are prepositions or conjunctions. Using these at the appropriate times ensures that the meaning in long sentences is clear. Most students do not use these properly and this leads to confusing sentences.

Eg

Rene’s anguish had no depth to it as it had been the umpteenth time that Felix had rescheduled their wedding dinner preview and though she had to meet the public relations officer repeatedly to postpone it, her main humiliation lay in having to mention to her in-laws, who were of Icelandic origin, that the dinner reservations had been cancelled.


The connectors are bolded in the above example. There are 4 connectors in this sentence and they are used at just the correct intervals to show that a new piece of information is being introduced. They smoothen the context and allow easier reading as the reader is able to assimilate what is going on. The use of ‘as’, ‘and’, ‘who’ and ‘that’ are some of the most commonly used connectors.

In order to get the grasp of writing well using long sentences, try using the common connectors first.

For overall control of using long sentences, always check back to make sur

e that each sub clause is clear in meaning and adds to the entire meaning of the sentence.

Once you have mastered this skill, your standard of writing would have improved noticeably and you will have no problem in scoring your desired grade.