How to Improve Sentence Fluency

Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
Improving sentence fluency is a lifelong process that even authors and academic professionals can sometimes find challenging. In this lesson, you will learn clear steps to improve your sentence fluency and increase your sentence-making ability.

Ways to Improve Sentence Fluency

Did you ever play Mad Libs? This game takes regular sentences and removes some of the words. The formula for this game is simple: add new words to blanks in a sentence. In adding new words, you create much more interesting sentences that are often crazy and very funny. In a way, improving sentence fluency, or making better sentences to get your idea across that look and sound better, is a little like Mad Libs.

By understanding and changing your sentence patterns, and checking and editing your work, you can improve your sentence fluency.

Understanding a Sentence

If you understand the basic patterns of a sentence, you can improve your sentence fluency by alternating sentence patterns. By using different patterns and going through a sentence fluency checklist, you can improve your sentence fluency. Let's look at how different patterns can change sentences.

Simple Sentence

A simple sentence is the basis of most sentence fluency.

formula: subject (thing) + verb (action) + object (thing) or adverb (a word modifying or describing a verb)

  • She is happy.

However, if your sentences are only simple sentences, your writing can be repetitive:

  • She is happy. She has a new job. She will work hard. She will make more money.

These sentences are too repetitive. Let's look at ways to ways to change simple sentences.

Compound Sentences

By using compound sentences, two independent ideas forming one sentence, you can improve your sentence fluency. By adding a subordinating conjunction, a big word for a little thing that can connect your sentences, you can vary your sentences.

formula: independent sentence + subordinating conjunction + independent sentence

Remember the word FANBOYS for conjunctions = For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So

  • I went to school today, and I learned how to divide numbers.
  • She will go back to school, or she will get a new job.
  • He had a sandwich, yet he was still hungry.

Additional Subordinating Conjunctions

By using other subordinating conjunctions and compound sentences, we can increase our sentence fluency even more. These include:

after, although, as, as if, as long as, because, before, even though, if, once, since, though, unless, until, when, that

  • As long as you live here, you will follow my rules.
  • Because I am the manager, I make the weekly work schedule.
  • Although I do not earn much money, I manage to still save by lowering my expenses.
  • Since I have extra money, I am going on vacation.

Sentence Fluency Checklist

After using different sentence patterns, it is important to check and edit your work. Editing is the best way to improve sentence fluency. The next step in improving sentence fluency is to go through a checklist. If your sentence work can complete the points of your checklist, your sentence fluency has improved. This is a lifelong tool. Even successful authors and accomplished academics use these steps to improve their sentence fluency.

Read Aloud

One of the biggest and easiest ways to improve sentence fluency is by reading your work aloud. When reading your work aloud, you will notice mistakes that you did not see in writing.

Keep It Clear

While it is important to use different sentence patterns, are your sentences clean and effective? Do they make sense? Do they agree with the sentences that are next to them? If they don't, you should edit. Imagine you are writing about food in New York City:

  • New York City is the largest city in the USA. People there eat hot dogs.

These two sentences do not make much sense. They are short but not effective to get your idea across. Try this:

  • New York City is the largest city in the USA. New York City is also home to many hot dog stands.

Now the sentences make sense and work together. You could then talk about food in New York City.

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