Skip to main content

Sentences: Types, Variety, Concision

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

This vidcast takes a closer look at the sentence-level within a document. Often in graduate level writing, sentence clarity is an issue because writers are struggling with highly complex material and with communicating that complexity clearly. This vidcast discusses sentence types (e.g., simple, complex) and varying sentence structure for rhetorical effect. Looking at sentence type throughout a document can often aid in the process of identifying and resolving sentence clarity issues. The vidcast also discusses how to revise sentences for concision. The handouts included below provide more details and examples. 

Note: Closed-captioning and a full transcript are available for this vidcast. 


Sentence Types

In this resource, four sentence types are defined and discussed. Writers can add complexity and variation to their sentences by incorporating the sentence types offered here; additionally, it should be noted that while English sentences can be classified in these four different ways, there are endless constructions of each.

Sentence Combining 

Writers might consider combining many short, choppy sentences together for rhetorical effect. This resource discusses two tips aimed at helping writers combine sentences. 

Writing Concisely (PDF)

Concise writing conveys a writer's meaning in few words without compromising on clarity. This handout outlines how writers can be more concise by paying attention to things like word-choice or the use of conjunctions, prepositions, and tense. 

Sentence Concision Activity (PDF)

This handout explains how to conduct an activity prompting writers to construct more concise sentences. The example used is "The Ape Exercise," in which writers are asked to combine five sentences into a single, concise, sentence.