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Combining information and ideas in longer sentences

Most academic texts consist of a combination of short and longer sentences. When writing longer sentences, it is important to make sentences reader-friendly and consider grammar and punctuation.

Common problems in sentence structure

With longer sentences, it is important to get the grammar and punctuation right, otherwise readers won't be able to 'navigate' the sentence or understand the point you want to make.

Read about common problems in sentence structure here.

There are many ways to combine information and ideas. You can, for example, add information to the main clause of a sentence using subordinate clauses. These include:

  • subordinate clauses starting with a subordinator, e.g. whereas, since, or provided that 
  • to-infinitives (sometimes preceded by in order or so as)
  • that-clauses
  • participle clauses
  • relative clauses (clauses starting with e.g. which or that).

Notice the different strategies used by the writers to combine ideas in examples (1–4):

(1) During discharge, oxidation reactions occur on the anode side while reduction occurs on the cathode side.

(2) Internal sensors are the sensors which are utilized by the machine itself in order to complete its regular operations and control loops.

(3) By utilizing frequency analysis, we saw that there were certain oscillatory behaviours occurring at specific frequencies, which could be attributed to the kinematic characteristics of specific components of the feed drive system.

(4) Agents are embedded into long term-planning algorithms to ensure that the given tasks are solved.

In example (1), the writer uses a conjunction (while) to introduce a subordinate clause and thus compare two things. In example (2), the writer uses a defining relative clause to give a definition (Internal sensors are the sensors which are utilized), and then adds an infinitive of purpose (in order to complete). In example (3), the writer uses a participle clause (utilizing frequency analysis) to express how something was done, and a non-defining relative clause (which could be) to add extra information on causation. In example (4), the writer uses an infinitive of purpose (to ensure), and the verb ensure is followed by a that-clause (that the given tasks are solved) which tells us the reason for something.

Read more about how ideas are linked in a text in the section on text flow .

Writing with a purpose

Note in the explanation above how grammatical structures are described in terms of how writers use grammatical structures to do things in a text. This is important if we think of writing as a purposeful activity.

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Innehållsansvarig:Susanna Zeitler Lyne
Tillhör: Institutionen för lärande
Senast ändrad: 2023-06-01