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University of Newcastle Library guides

Common feedback comments and what they mean: Writing clear sentences

This guide lists some common feedback comments and explains what they mean.

Writing clear sentences

Writing clear sentences

Every sentence must have the following:

  1. A subject
  2. A verb
  3. Express a complete thought

The sentence, ‘Ali my dog’ is not a complete sentence. It does not tell the reader what happened to the subject, or what the subject of the sentence has done; that is, what did Ali do or have done to her. In this case there is no verb and no complete thought.

A corrected version could be:

My dog Ali was chasing the chickens around the yard.

My dog Ali was chased around the yard by the chickens.

 

Common problems with sentences

Problem: The idea in a sentence needs more explanation.

     Incorrect: The program obviously contains an error.

     Correct: The obvious error was found in the coding of the program.

 

Problem: This sentence needs an example to strengthen your point. You can expand on this example in a new sentence.

     Incorrect: The results were inconsistent.

     Correct: The inconsistent results were attributed to the lack of careful preparation of the sample.

 

Problem: There is too much information in one sentence.

     Incorrect: Alan failed his final examination, even though he thought he had prepared well, which means he will have to repeat the course before he can graduate which means he will not graduate with his classmates

     Correct: Alan failed his final examination, even though he thought he had prepared well. This means Alan will have to  repeat the course, and will not graduate with his classmates.

 

Problem: The sentence is too long.

     Incorrect: Freedom of association in Australia means that citizens can exercise the right to free speech and protest, along with the right to become involved or form a union in the interest of the individual’s needs or wellbeing, which is having a significant impact on Australia’s legal structure giving people the power to make decisions if they are obeying the law.

     Correct: Freedom of association in Australia means that citizens can exercise the right to free speech and to protest, along with the right to become involved or form a union in the interest of the individual’s needs or wellbeing. This is having a significant impact on Australia’s legal structure, giving people the power to make decisions if they are obeying the law.

 

 

 

 

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