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Sometimes it seems desirable to pack a lot of interrelated information into a single sentence, but such sentences can lack clarity or seem tiring.

For example, the following sentence seems to leave no space for breath:

John said it was constructed in 1664 during the Dutch occupation in Taiwan by an admiral that had decided to settle in the island.

How can one structure such sentences for greater readability while maintaining the relationships of the parts and avoiding choppy writing?

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    It just needs some commas; John said it was constructed in 1664, during the Dutch occupation in Taiwan, by an admiral that had decided to settle in the island. – CLockeWork Feb 19 '15 at 9:00
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    Incidentally, Wikipedia indicates that Dutch rule ended in 1662, so presumably 1664 would not be "during the Dutch occupation". – Paul A. Clayton Feb 19 '15 at 21:45
  • A Meta question asks if the edit makes this question appropriately broad or too broad. (The Meta question also includes a proposed answer, so even if the edited version is too broad at least a (I believe) somewhat decent answer is available.) – Paul A. Clayton Feb 19 '15 at 22:12
  • @PaulA.Clayton Oh, that's for spotting that. I took it from this Wikipedia entry: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keelung "From 1642 to 1661 and 1663–1668, Keelung was under Dutch control." – Alexandro Chen Feb 20 '15 at 1:56
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I will second CLockeWork's comment. I will also add that while parentheses work, I think commas are more readable.

John said it was constructed in 1664, during the Dutch occupation in Taiwan, by an admiral that had decided to settle in the island.

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Others may disagree, but I'm a big fan of parentheses. In this case, the Dutch occupation is a side note to give some context to 1664. It could be omitted without changing the real meaning of the sentence.

John said it was constructed in 1664 (during the Dutch occupation in Taiwan) by an admiral who had decided to settle in the island.

Please note, I would also use who, rather than that. The admiral is a person.

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John said it was during the Dutch occupation in 1664, in Taiwan, that an admiral who had decided to settle in the island, constructed it.

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    1) This reordering actually makes it more confusing. The year is the most important thought here. 2) No comma after "island." – Lauren Ipsum Feb 19 '15 at 17:33
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    I will second Lauren. I believe the reason your version is more confusing is because you made the sentence active. It was originally passive. It sounds more natural in a passive voice. – Thomas Myron Feb 19 '15 at 18:22

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