Tag Archives: sentence

Making Long Paragraphs Work


writingParagraph quality is not determined by its length, long or short. Rather, quality is determined by how well the paragraph communicates a single idea. Long paragraphs, however, can be difficult simply because they are long.

The following 2 strategies will help you write long paragraphs that work.

Day 137: Use topic chains to create cohesive paragraphs.

If you write a long paragraph (more than 4 or 5 sentences), how do you keep focused on the topic? How do you keep the reader aware of the main idea being discussed?

You do this with topic chains. A topic chain is basically a series of words and phrases that refer to the main idea. In most cases when you use a topic chain, each sentence will have one or more words that refer to the idea. If this is not possible with a particular sentence, you may need to consider whether or not that sentence belongs in the paragraph. Consider this paragraph from a proposal for state authorization to provide after school services to at-risk children. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

The 3 Cs of Effective Paragraphs


Every well-written paragraph needs three parts: context, content, and conclusion. These three parts are known collectively as the 3 Cs. When you use the 3 Cs, you present information logically, you help the reader understand your message, and you demonstrate the relevance of your idea.

Context. The first sentence (or two) of a paragraph establishes the context. The context has two purposes:

1.   Reveal the single idea that will be discussed, and

2.   Demonstrate how the idea relates to the previously discussed idea.

To establish context, first determine the single idea you will discuss next. The first sentence (or two) presents that idea. Second, think about the logical connections between the idea and the previous idea. The first sentence (or two) provides the transition from one idea to the next by demonstrating those connections. Example B1 illustrates how context is established.

Example B.1:

[final sentence of a paragraph about nurses’ responsibilities] When nurses fully understand these duties, they can interact as a team to improve patient well-being.
[first sentence, i.e., context, of the next paragraph] A patient may have many needs that a single nurse, or other healthcare provider, cannot address alone.

In example B.1, the first sentence of paragraph two establishes the context for the paragraph that follows. First, it reveals the main idea: patients have multiple needs. Second, it shows the relevance of the main idea to the previous idea. It does this by echoing words or concepts found in the final sentence of the previous paragraph. Here, the first sentence of paragraph two contains the words patient, needs, and single nurse. These words relate to patient, well-being, and team (of nurses) in the final sentence of paragraph one. As a result, the reader will know what to expect from the paragraph, will be able to make sense of the information to follow, and will understand its relevance within the logical flow of ideas. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Writing

8 Sentence Patterns for Academic and Technical Writing


(From Concise Guide to Technical and Academic Writing.)

An expert academic or technical writer needs only a few basic sentence patterns to produce easy-to-understand writing. Each of the sentence patterns below will result in clear academic or technical writing. However, do not use any one pattern more than twice in a row to prevent the writing from sounding repetitive and boring. Also, use the more complex sentence patterns less frequently. They are more challenging for the reader and may make the writing overall more complex than necessary.

All effective sentence patterns start with the Subject-Verb-Object (S-V-O) sentence structure. Optional components are additional S-V-O structures and descriptive words, phrases, and clauses (D), which can be placed in various locations.

In the samples below, the subjects are underlined, and the main verbs are in italics.

1. Simple sentence (S-V-O): A simple sentence has one subject–verb pair. It starts with the subject (or an adjective and the subject). The subject is immediately followed by the verb (or an adverb and the verb). A simple sentence may contain an object.

Example 1: The computer desktop provides access to your files. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Writing