CompFAQ/Awkward Constructions

From Gerald R. Lucas
📝 English Composition Writing FAQ 11011102📖

Revise Awkward Constructions

An awkward sentence is one that is difficult to read or understand due to its structure, phrasing, or wording. Awkward sentences can slow down the reader’s comprehension and disrupt the flow of ideas.

Follow these tips to avoid awkwardness in writing:

  • Use clear and concise language: Avoid using complex or overly formal language. Instead, use simple and direct language that is easy to understand.
  • Use active voice: In general, active voice is more clear and direct than passive voice. For example, instead of saying “The ball was thrown by the boy,” say “The boy threw the ball.”
  • Vary sentence structure: Mix up the length and structure of your sentences to create a more interesting and dynamic flow. Use short and punchy sentences to emphasize important points, and longer, more complex sentences to provide detailed explanations.
  • Read your work aloud: Reading your work out loud can help you identify awkward sentences and phrasing. If a sentence sounds strange or is difficult to say—perhaps you stumble over it, then the structure may need to be revised.
  • Get feedback: Ask a peer or tutor to review your work and provide feedback on any awkward or confusing sentences. Another perspective can often help you identify issues that you may have overlooked.


Below are examples of awkward sentences and potential revisions.

Awkward: “The reason for the low sales is due to the fact that the product was not marketed well.”
Revised: “The product’s poor marketing led to the low sales.”
Awkward: “After finishing the book, a movie adaptation was announced.”
Revised: “After finishing the book, I learned that a movie adaptation was announced.”
Awkward: “The study was conducted by researchers at the university, which was published in a prestigious journal.”
Revised: “Researchers at the university conducted the study, and it was published in a prestigious journal.”
Awkward: “John went to the store to buy some apples, he realized that he had left his wallet at home.”
Revised: “John went to the store to buy some apples, but realized he had left his wallet at home.”
Awkward: “The essay was written by the student in one hour, which was graded highly by the professor.”
Revised: “The student wrote the essay in one hour and received a high grade from the professor.”

In general, awkward sentences can be improved by reorganizing the sentence structure, using transitions or conjunctions, eliminating unnecessary words or phrases, and clarifying the intended meaning.

Written: 2002, 2022; Revised: 05-1-2023; Version: Beta 0.7 💬