The UVic Writer's Guide

The Need for Sentence Variation

It is difficult to read an essay made up entirely of simple subject-verb sentences: "The dog is barking. Jim kicks the dog. The dog bites Jim." While short sentences can be effective for emphasis ("The Eagle has landed"), they need to be surrounded by different kinds of sentences for contrast.

Simple sentences are the main stylistic feature of children's readers like Fun With Dick and Jane, so a paper full of them will sound as if it was written for youngsters. If your essay has any claim to sophistication whatsoever, it will feature sentences of varied length and complexity.

If you find that your essay is composed of choppy little sentences, try to connect some of them into compound or complex sentences.

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 21, 1995