Writing Papers with Correct Sentence Style

Learn about writing papers with correct sentence-style by using parallel forms and avoiding unnecessary shifts. 

When one is writing papers for school or work, it is important to know rules about correct sentence style and what sentence errors to watch out for. Writers need to look out for sentence errors when it comes to thesis writing, whether it is a thesis sentence or thesis project. Academic and professional documents written by any academic essay writer must be heavily edited for word choice, sentence writing, style, etc. because they are formal documents that represent the abilities of the student or company. The following rules can help with either professional or academic editing. 

Writing Papers with Parallel Sentences 

Writers need to write parallel sentences because otherwise, sentences can be too confusing. A parallel sentence balances ideas by conveying the ideas in similar grammatical forms. 

When a writer is listing items, parallel ideas should be presented. In a series or list, a noun should not be compared to or lumped together with a verb, for instance. In other words, “I want to buy coffee, soap, and I am tired” is improper because instead of listing equivalent items, the writer lumps on a clause at the end of the list. A list should finish first before a new clause is added. The sentence could be changed to read: “I want to buy coffee and soap, but I am too tired to go to the store,” because the list is completed before the beginning of the second clause. 

If a sentence offers a pair of ideas, these ideas should have similar grammatical forms. Usually, pairs will be connected with coordinating conjunctions (like “and” or “but”), correlative conjunctions (such as “not only…but also”), or words implying comparison (like “as”). An example of an inappropriate pair of ideas is “I am going to the store and finding a new shirt.” This is because “-ing” verbs should be paired with other “-ing” verbs, not with other verb forms 

Editing Papers for Shifting Tenses and Points of View 

Academic editing requires editing papers for shifts in tense and point of view. A shift in tense occurs when a sentence or paragraph suddenly shifts from one tense to another for no reason or with no warning. A shift in point of view happens when a sentence goes from one point of view to another unexpectedly. Because these shifts are easy for an essay writer to miss, it is sometimes better to have a friend or colleague read one’s papers for proper tense and point of view. 

While various tenses can exist within a sentence, writers often incorrectly shift from one tense to another without meaning to. To edit for this problem, a writer can quickly read through the verbs in a paper and make sure that they agree with the subjects, and with the general sense of the paper. 

It is easy to shift tenses when writing about another author’s work, especially if the work is in the past tense, or if the author wrote the work a long time ago. However, thesis writing should almost always be in the present tense. For instance, the thesis “In Smith’s work, circles symbolized the life cycle” should instead use the present tense verb “symbolize.” 

When sentence writing, the point of view should remain constant. While the point of view shifts is acceptable for creative writing, students should generally use the third person point of view for academic and thesis writing. 

These two sentences represent a shift in point of view: “I am arguing about Milton’s Paradise Lost. If you read it, you would know that he wrote about biblical passages.” Not only does this writer shift from the first person (“I”) to the second person (“you”), he or she does not use the third person (“he”/”she”/”it”/”they”), which is required for proper academic or professional writing. Editing for this type of mistake may seem minor, but it can vastly improve a paper’s readability. 

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