What are some ways to turn complex sentences into simple sentences?

Some ways to turn complex sentences into simple sentences include creating a compound verb, turning a dependent clause into an infinitive phrase or a participle phrase, substituting vocabulary, or splitting the complex sentence into two simple sentences.

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Let's begin by defining our terms. A simple sentence is the most basic of sentences. It is an independent clause that contains a subject, a verb (or sometimes a compound verb), and sometimes modifiers and phrases. It expresses a complete idea and does not contain any dependent clauses. For example,...

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Let's begin by defining our terms. A simple sentence is the most basic of sentences. It is an independent clause that contains a subject, a verb (or sometimes a compound verb), and sometimes modifiers and phrases. It expresses a complete idea and does not contain any dependent clauses. For example, “The cat chased the ball” is a simple sentence, as is “The cat is napping in the sunshine.”

A complex sentence contains one independent clause and at least one dependent clause (a clause that has a subject and a verb but cannot stand by itself as a complete thought). For example, “The cat who was chasing the ball caught it” is a complex sentence. Its independent clause is “The cat caught it,” but this is interrupted by a dependent relative clause “who was chasing the ball.” Let's look at another example: “When the cat chased the ball, he caught it.” Here the independent clause is “he caught it” while the dependent clause is “when the cat chased the ball.” We can see how these dependent clauses cannot stand alone; they are not complete thoughts in and of themselves.

Now let's think about how we can turn complex sentences into simple sentences. This is important because as writers, we sometimes tend to be wordy, using more words than we need to convey our ideas. Let's return to one of the examples above: “The cat who was chasing the ball caught it.” This is a perfectly grammatical sentence, but we can simplify it by turning the relative clause into another verb: “The cat chased the ball and caught it.” This is much more concise.

There are other techniques we can also use to turn complex sentences into simple ones. If we have the complex sentence “The dog was happy when he saw his master,” we can take the dependent clause “when he saw his master” and turn it into an infinitive phrase. We would come up with the simple sentence “The dog was happy to see his master.” We might also turn a dependent clause into a participle phrase. For instance, we can simplify “The cat who lives in this house is very friendly” to “The cat living in this house is very friendly.” We've made the relative clause (“who lives...”) into a present participle phrase (“living in...”).

Further, we can sometimes convert complex sentences into simple ones by substituting vocabulary. The complex sentence “This is the location at which the event will take place” is rather wordy. It is more concise to say, “This is the venue for this event.” “Venue” is a more concise word to express the location of an event.

Finally, sometimes simplifying a complex sentence means splitting it into two simple sentences. For instance, we might have “Because it is raining today, I cannot ride my bike to work.” This is a perfectly valid sentence, but if we really wanted to, we could say, “It is raining today. Therefore, I cannot ride my bike to work.”

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