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Sentences

Sentences

There are some basic rules to follow when it comes to sentences.

 

  1. Write short sentences. Aim for one main idea in a sentence (average sentence length 20 to 22 words)

Short sentences emphasise the idea contained in them in comparison to long sentences which are used to express complex ideas.

In addition, short sentences generally have more weight and therefore are considered to be more important and long sentences: more difficult for reader to identify what is of primary importance.

Short sentences are primarily used at beginning of paragraphs or sections (remember topic sentences) as they capture readers to focus on main ideas and readers automatically assign more importance to sentences that stand alone. 

For example: 

  1. “Rheumatic fever is an autoimmune disease”
  2. “It is generally accepted in the field of medicine that rheumatic fever is an autoimmune disease”

Which sentence conveys the message more clearly? What is the difference between the two, besides the length? When reading it, do you feel that something is missing? How correct are both statements? When would you use them?

Remember that both sentences are grammatically correct, and we seem to be familiar with both options. However, you can see how the length of the sentences effects our interpretation of it.

For example: 

The following is an example of a very long sentence:

When central venous IV lines were removed, skin samples from patients with IV line-related bloodstream infections were collected and in 80% of these samples, bacteria with high DNA identity to those found in the bloodstream and IV lines were identified, whereas in 20% of the patients isolated bacteria had no or low DNA identity, indicating that most bloodstream infections in patients with central venous IV lines arise from contamination of IV lines or needles during insertion. (76 words/sentence)

 

Again, the sentence itself is grammatically correct, but reading such a long sentence just confuses and takes from us as readers a great deal of effort to work out what parts are most important.

We can change the sentence by adding punctuation markings and linking words and phrases.

When central venous IV lines were removed, skin samples from patients with IV line-related bloodstream infections were collected. In 80% of these samples, bacteria with high DNA identity to those found in the bloodstream and IV lines were identified. However, in 20% of the patients isolated bacteria had no or low DNA identity. These observations indicate indicating that most bloodstream infections in patients with central venous IV lines arise from contamination of IV lines or needles during insertion. (average 19 words/sentence)

 

We managed to create three separate sentences from the long sentence without loosing the main message. The result is much easier to read and therefore much clearer.

 

 

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