Help with Writing Sentences: Tips for Kids

Learning to write is more than being able to write down words and throw them together. Writing sentences that communicate exactly what you want is an art that requires practice and dedication. The tips below will help you write better, more interesting sentences in no time.

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Tip #1: Read to Write

The best writers are also avid readers. Reading often will help you internalize grammar rules and give you a feel for how to structure sentences and paragraphs. When you find a piece of writing you like, photocopy (or copy) the page and break each sentence into its different parts. Use different colors to underline nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, objects, conjunctions and prepositions.

Look carefully at how the author orders sentences and when he or she uses shorter or longer sentences. Compare authors and types of writing to each other. For example, how is a newspaper article different in style than a short story? Are the sentences written differently? How long are paragraphs? You can also practice by copying the first sentence of a story or article and writing your own version of the following paragraph.

Tip #2: Start Small

Don't start by writing a sentence that is a paragraph long. Instead, start with a few smaller ones that convey what you are trying to express. Then see which ones can be joined to express something more clearly. Do remember that just because you can put two sentences together, it doesn't mean you have to, or even that you should (more on that in Tip #3).

For example: 'Food is essential to life. It makes our growth and development possible. It sustains our body's necessary functions.'

Can become: 'Food is essential to life because it makes our growth and development possible and it sustains our body's necessary functions.'

Tip #3: Longer Isn't Always Better

A sentence doesn't have to be long to be interesting. The opening sentence of the famous book Moby Dick is 'Call me Ishmael.' This sentence is only three words long but it hooks readers and makes them excited to read on. When you are getting ready to write, take the time to think about what you want to say and how you want it to come across. Ask yourself if what you're saying needs more description or explanation (put it in a longer sentence) or if it is direct or forceful (use a shorter sentence). For example, writing 'Wait! Don't touch the stove! It's hot!' does a better job of showing urgency with short sentences than the longer: 'Wait, don't touch the stove because it's hot.'

Tip #4: Read Your Sentences Aloud

Reading aloud isn't only what parents do for sleepy children. When the time comes to review your writing, reading aloud will help you discover problems that you might not catch when reading in silence. Repetitive use of words or phrases, awkward wording, and inconsistencies in noun-pronoun and subject-verb agreement are easier to detect when put into speech. Read your work aloud, make any corrections your sentence needs and then reread it. If something sounds strange, take the time to figure out what it is. A different word choice or reordering a phrase can make an enormous difference in clarity.

Tip #5: The Secret to Good Writing is Re-Writing

Many of the best writers will revise their writing until they are satisfied with how the different words and sentences fit together. The great American writer Ernest Hemingway once said that for every ninety-one pages he wrote, he only kept one of them! The rest he threw out. When you're writing sentence, don't be afraid to cross out a sentence or a paragraph and start again.

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