Using a variety of complex structures

Strategy 1: Changing the order of the sentence

There are many ways that sentences can be structured.  So one of the simplest methods of avoiding too much repetition and showing grammatical range is to simply change the order of the different language “chunks” that make up the structure you are using.  Here is an example of this using a sentence from a typical Task 1 graph analysis essay:

- Over the period shown, the number of crimes committed by children under 15 years of age increased significantly to just over 30% of the total reported in 2010, rising from around 10% in 1990.

 This can be changed to the following sentence, which expresses exactly the same ideas:

--> Rising from around 10% in 1990, the number of crimes committed by children under 15 years of age increased significantly over the period shown to just over 30% of the total reported in 2010.

 

Strategy 2: Change the verb forms

Slightly changing the grammar of the verbs can create another different structure:

--> Increasing significantly over the period, the number of crimes committed by children under 15 years of age rose from around 10% in 1990 to just over 30% of the total reported in 2010.

 

Strategy 3: Using a good balance of sentence lengths

However, also remember that good writing is about clearly and precisely expressing what you want to communicate as simply and efficiently as possible.  Unnecessary complexity can also be a problem.  A balance is best. A series of long complex sentences with several subordinate clauses is just as boring to read as several short simple sentences, and again, may actually reduce clarity by being unnecessarily difficult.

  • Avoid adding subordinate clauses for their own sake: 

- The process of industrialization has resulted in the raising of the economic performance of many of the poorest countries in the world.   

 This can be changed to the following sentence, which expresses the same ideas more efficiently:

 --> Industrialization has boosted the GNP of many poorer countries.

While this first sentence demonstrates impressive complex grammar it isn’t really necessary to express the writer’s point.  It is OK to include some sentences like this, but if all your sentences are this length, your writing may become overly complex and difficult to read.  Also, you will be more likely to make errors, and you will probably find it difficult to include everything you need to say within the time limit of the test.

  • Break up long sentences when possible:

- The immediate effects of reducing government support for the unemployed would probably be to cause protests from charities, to make richer people who pay higher taxes happier, and to scare people on lower incomes, who have long benefited from such programmes.         

 This can be changed to the following sentences, which express the same ideas more clearly:

--> Reducing government unemployment support would probably have three immediate effects. Firstly, it would cause protests from charities. Secondly, richer people who pay higher taxes would be happier. Lastly, it would scare people on lower incomes, who have long benefited from such programmes.  

  • Combine short sentences

Equally, if you have a series of one or more very short sentences, see if it is possible to combine them, without losing clarity, by using conjunctions and/or punctuation.  In fact, sometimes this might actually improve clarity as well as efficiency:

Television can be a useful educational tool. It is a tool that prevents education.

 This can be changed to the following sentence, which expresses the same ideas more clearly:

 Television can be an educational tool, but it may also prevent education.

 

 

Exercises

Exercise 1: Improve the below essay (IELTS Writing Task 1) by changing the sentence patter basing on the techniques that you have learned in today lesson. 

[The bar chart and pie chart give information about why US residents travelled in the year 2009. They also reveal the information about what travel problems they experienced in the same year.]

[It is clear that the principal reason why Americans travelled in 2009 was to commute to and from work and the primary concern of Americans, with regard to the trips they made, was the cost of travelling.]

[There were 49% of the trips made by Americans in 2009 for the purpose of commuting as we can see when we look more closely at the bar chart]. By contrast, only 6% of trips were visits to friends or relatives, and one in ten trips were for social or recreation reasons. [Accounting for 19% of the trips was for unspecific ‘personal reasons’  while shopping was cited as the reason for 16% of all travel.]

According to the pie chart, [people considered the price very much when they traveled in American for 36% of all travel]. [Almost one in five people cited safety as their foremost travel concern. Aggressive driving and highway congestion were the main issues for 17% and 14% of the travelling public]. Finally, a total of 14% of those surveyed thought that access to public transport or space for pedestrians were the most important travel issues.

 

Exercise 2: Improve the below essay (IELTS Writing Task 2) by changing the sentence patter basing on the techniques that you have learned in today lesson. 

First of all, you'd better read the question to understand the point before taking your task.

Question: In many cities the use of video cameras in public places is being increased in order to reduce crime, but some people believe that these measures restrict our individual freedom.
Do the benefits of increased security outweigh the drawbacks?

[It is true that video surveillance is used commonly in many cities in recent years in the increasing number of cameras that we see on the streets]. [I understand this statement. I think critics may see this as an invasion of privacy. I believe that the benefits do outweigh the drawbacks.]

There are two main reasons why people might disapprove of the use of video cameras in public places. [The first objection is that these cameras invade our privacy, in the sense that we are constantly being watched by the authorities or by private security firms causing people's intrusion and maximizing the state control that curtails their individual freedom]. [Cameras are being used as an alternative to police officers patrolling the streets and that is the second argument against the proliferation of CCTV cameras]. If this is indeed happening, then it is unlikely that members of the public will feel safer.

In spite of the drawbacks mentioned above, [I believe that the use of video cameras to monitor public areas is a positive measure when the key objective of video surveillance is to deter criminals and to prevent crime]. For example, [in parts of cities where they know that they are being watched, petty criminals like shoplifters and pickpockets are less likely to operate]. At the same time, [when crimes are committed, the police can use video evidence to catch and prosecute offenders so that video cameras offer valuable support to police officers, and they make cities safer for inhabitants, workers and visitors alike. I also think the same]

In conclusion, it seems to me that we gain more than we lose from the enhanced security that CCTV cameras bring to our cities.

 

 

Source: Argos, Simon

Compiled by Ce Phan