Sentence Splitting Part 1

By NASA; restored by Michel Vuijlsteke (Great Images in NASA Description) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Splitting sentences can be tricky, but it’s not rocket science

One of the most common issues we deal with when editing texts translated from Turkish is overly long sentences.

The trait is often carried over from the source text, as Turkish texts tend to use what are – to native English speakers – improbably long sentences.

Long sentences make it difficult for the reader to comprehend the text. Breaking up a sentence can make text easier to digest and less tiring for the reader.

When should a sentence be split?

There are no firm rules as to what constitutes an overly-long sentence, but these are indicators:

  • Any length of text without punctuation should be readable with a single breath. If it can’t be read in a single breath, your sentence is probably too long.
  • The more commas (and therefore clauses) you have in the sentences, the more difficult it becomes to follow.  If there are more than three commas, you may wish to see whether the sentence could be split.
  • Unless certain aspects of a sentence are strongly related, the best course is the split the sentence up.

How can a sentence be split?

  1. First, read the sentence – out loud if necessary.
  2. Look for conjunctions in the sentence: and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet.
  3. Check to see if they separate independent clauses (also known as a simple sentence, a portion that could work as a standalone sentence).
  4. If it could work as a standalone sentence, substitute the comma for a period.
  5. Rephrase the “new” sentence. This may require the use of transitional terms, such as in addition.

Example 1

Over the course of the past year we have made great strides in improving our human resources procedures and we aim to build on this over the coming years, focussing on further recruitment from ethnic minorities, in line with our corporate responsibility mission statement.

This sentence is too long, despite the use of commas. It can be broken up into three sentences without affecting the meaning, as seen below.

Over the course of the past year we have made great strides in improving our human resources procedures. We aim to build on this over the coming years, focussing on further recruitment from ethnic minorities. This will be carried out in line with our corporate responsibility mission statement.

Example 2

During the past year we have released over 10 new products into the Turkish market, which have been received to widespread acclaim by consumers and have broken new ground in terms of taste, quality and affordability.

Breaking up a sentence is a balance between making it more readable, and retaining the smooth flow of the sentence. If you add too many periods, the text can become choppy.

During the past year we have released over 10 new products into the Turkish market. These products have been received to widespread acclaim by consumers and have broken new ground in terms of taste, quality and affordability.

Example 3

Founded in 1971, the company has strived to provide the construction industry with the most reliable and most suitable tools for the job whilst also pursuing its unique growth strategy in order to achieve value for both shareholders and stakeholders.

Founded in 1971, the company has strived to provide the construction industry with the most reliable and most suitable tools for the job. It has done this whilst also pursuing its unique growth strategy in order to achieve value for both shareholders and stakeholders.

 

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