What Makes an Effective Sentence?

What Makes an Effective Sentence?

Writing beautiful sentences is not an exact science. Although there are basic rules of grammar, good writers find ways to express themselves through writing in different ways: using different vocabulary, varying the length of sentences, using different sentence types, and more!

Grammatically, a sentence needs a subject and a predicate. However, stylistically, it needs much more:

Clarity: a sentence should be clear to the reader
Well-chosen vocabulary: choose words whose meaning you are sure of, and use them correctly
Strong verbs: when possible, use verbs that show the action of the sentence. The verb ‘be’ (in all its forms — is, are, was, were, etc.) is a weaker choice of verb in many cases. Try to find a verb that shows the action.
Proper length: if your sentence expresses a simple idea, it probably needs to be a short sentence. More complex ideas may need longer sentences. Vary your sentence lengths as well. If all your sentences are short, your writing sounds “choppy.” If all your sentences are long, your writing can be overly complicated and hard to understand.
Limited number of clauses and prepositions: the more clauses and prepositions you have in a sentence, the harder it can be to understand. Think about how many clauses you have included in a single sentence.
Subject-verb agreement: be sure you can identify the subject of your sentence, then make sure the verb agrees with it in number.

For example:
The cup is full of coffee. The cups are full of coffee.

Correct verb tense: if you are speaking of things in the past, use past tense verbs. This may seem obvious, but if your native language does not make this distinction with verbs, this can be a difficult aspect of English.