Have you ever listened to someone speak and wondered how they can speak in such long, sentences? Do you find that you need to ask this kind of speaker to repeat because you can't keep up with them? Do they present too much information on one breath? Maybe you have been told that you speak this way. It happens to many of us, and we may not even know that we are doing it.
The best speakers know how to convey their message clearly, simply, and effectively. One key factor in speaking effectively is learning how to simply your sentences. Let’s take a look at how you can accomplish this.
There are two types of sentences we want to avoid when speaking and writing: 1. Run-on sentences 2. Sentences connected by too many conjunctions
1. Run-on sentences: In writing, a run-on sentence is two or more sentences together without punctuation. For example: Mary has a dog she walks it every day. This sentence is actually made up of two different sentences put together. The first is, “Mary has a dog” and the second is “She walks it every day.
To fix the above run-on sentence in writing, we have a few choices:
We can separate the sentences with a period: Mary has a dog. She walks it every day.
We can separate the sentences with a semi-colon: Mary has a dog; she walks it every day.
We can separate the sentences with a conjunction: Mary has a dog, and she walks it every day.
In speaking, a run-on sentence will sound like two or more sentences said together without pausing. This can be very difficult for listeners to understand because there is too much information presented on one breath.
Let’s take a look at the following run-on sentence: My manager went on vacation he will be gone for two weeks. This run-on sentence is made up of two independent sentences, “My manager went on vacation.” “He will be gone for two weeks.”
To fix the above run-on sentence in speaking, we can do one of two things:
We can separate the sentences with a pause. In speaking, the pause will create two separate sentences, as follows: “My manager went on vacation. He will be gone for two weeks.”
We can separate the sentences with a conjunction: My manager went on vacation, and he will be gone for two weeks.” The conjunction “and” separates the two sentences and creates what we call a compound sentence (two independent clauses connected with a conjunction.
3. Sentences connected with too many conjunctions In English, we naturally use conjunctions or connector words, such as “but”, “and” and “because” just to name a few. They serve to link sentences and phrases together.
When we use too many conjunctions in one thought, however, it can create complicated sentences that are difficult to understand.
Let’s take a look at an example: When I moved to Boston for my new job, I found a great apartment near the Charles River and it is very nice, and I love seeing the water from my living room window because it is very relaxing but I work such long hours that I only really get to enjoy the view during the weekends.
We can simplify the above sentence by separating it into smaller, more manageable thoughts. Shortening and simplifying the sentences breaks up lengthy, complicated information in smaller chunks, making it easier for your listeners to understand.
Let’s take a look at how we can break up the above sentence into more manageable thought: When I moved to Boston for my new job, I found a great apartment near the Charles River. It is very nice, and I love seeing the water from my living room window. It is very relaxing, but I work such long hours that I only really get to enjoy the view during the weekends. To summarize, your goal in any speaking event is to create speech that is easy to understand for your listeners. By presenting information simply, as often as possible, and pausing more often, your listeners will be able to process what you say more quickly and easily. The easier your speech is to understand, the more effective it will be. Speaking in run-on sentences or connecting several sentences together with conjunctions will only confuse listeners and result in misinterpretation, frustration, and frequent requests for repetitions.
Cheryl Posey, MS CCC-SLP firstname.lastname@example.org 774-212-3241 Copyright 2010-2019