Some writing has complex sentence structure. Many times, this is because its authors derived it from drafts that had complex sentence structure already. But I read that writers can combine simpler sentences into more complex ones through sentence combining. Unfortunately, I don't understand how some complex sentences can be represented as simpler ones, especially when the propositions in it are connected by relationships. Because I fail to understand this, I also struggle to see how I can write sentences without attending to their complexity, and then combine them into complex ones. Therefore, I lack the willingness to write. And partially because of this, I do not write.

My question is this: Are sentence complexity and thought complexity always independent, and how can complex sentences which seem irreducible be broken down into simpler ones? If I understand this, I will be more likely to follow an effective writing process, involving ignoring writing style when inventing or drafting, enabling me to write drafts with simple sentences and revise them into drafts with more complex ones.

  • Perhaps you can give a few examples of complex sentences that you are unable to break down into simpler sentences. Given those examples, it may be possible that someone can give you a concrete answer that would provide you with real insight.
    – Rob
    Commented Apr 10 at 19:41
  • I don't have any examples in particular. Can you explain how to break down sentences with participles without creating redundancies? Such sentences express simeltanious action. That's why they seem difficult to express concisely as seperate sentences.
    – garbia
    Commented Apr 11 at 0:02
  • I also doubt the simpler sentences would occur naturally during invention or drafting.
    – garbia
    Commented Apr 11 at 0:03
  • According to your profile you have asked 77 questions of which 71 have received one or more answers, and yet you have accepted answers for only 4 of your questions. I have looked at some of your recent questions, and most have received answers that in my opinion fully answer your question, some have even received several acceptable answers. To me, the fact that you only very rarely accept an answer, seems to show that you don't appreciate and respect the time and effort of those who try to help you. You are using us, but you don't say "thank you". That is impolite.
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 13 at 10:26
  • As for your question, I have answered it here: writing.stackexchange.com/a/69278/60280 The solution is to use conjunctions, adverbs, pronouns, and other connectors to create cohesion between your sentences. Example from your question: "...how can complex sentences which seem irreducible be broken down into simpler ones?" could be rephrased as: "Some complex sentences seem to be irreducible. How can they be broken down into simpler ones?" [contd.]
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 13 at 10:35

2 Answers 2


Complexity of sentence structure is useful when it conveys and reinforces the complex relationship of what is expressed. The structure only lends mild effects, but it does convey some.

For instance,

John and Jane danced all night. They walked home at dawn.

makes the dancing and walking independent and equally important

John and Jane danced all night and walked home at dawn

links the two actions together more.

After dancing all night, John and Jane walked home at dawn.

Because the dancing is in a subordinate clause, it is less important than the walk.

Therefore, if your sentences are just a bunch of simple sentences, which can create a staccato effect, you want to analyze their relationships.


Why do you want complex sentences?

Your text will not gain from it.

The complexity you should have in your text is complex emotions, complex conflict, complex choices, complex dilemmas and problems, complex characters, complex cultures, and on and on.

The sentences should not be complex.

I once heard a writing teacher state about some of his students that they had fallen victim to a perverted pursuit of style.

Complex sentences clearly sort under that category.

Of course, you might be trying to become a Nobel laureate, but to be honest, your life will be better spent trying to evoke emotions and thought in your readers using simple language to show a complex world...

Also, if you're testing your text against a readability index, you should stop.

But if you insist, getting scores for a school age audience is GOOD news, not the opposite...

The genre of a text is much more determined by the subject (and its complexity) than by the mechanical properties of the text.

  • I don't know the reason I want to write complex sentences.
    – garbia
    Commented Apr 10 at 17:56
  • I also don't know why sentences are the only element of writing that should not be complex. Can you explain this? Also, can you provide examples of decombining sentences with participles, and of decombining other types of sentences. This may help me write more simply, on the potential occasions that I think complex thoughts while trying to write simply.
    – garbia
    Commented Apr 10 at 18:03
  • However, my problem is usually that I think I cannot form complex thoughts while refraining from attendance to sentences structure, a problem that prevents me from being confident that I can form complex sentences by writing and combining simple ones.
    – garbia
    Commented Apr 10 at 18:05
  • That is just one problem that causes that.
    – garbia
    Commented Apr 10 at 18:10
  • Also, it is not that I can't understand how some complex sentences can be decombined; it is that I can't understand how many of them can be decombined without forming redundancies.
    – garbia
    Commented Apr 10 at 18:32

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