Sometimes a sentence sounds awkward or is difficult to understand because it contains multiple grammatical or punctuation errors or it might be that the idea you were trying to convey was too complicated to fit into a single sentence. It can sometimes be difficult for an instructor to tell you exactly how to correct this since they don’t always know what you were trying to say or how you want to say it. At best, they might tell you how they would write it.

The first step in correcting an awkwardly-worded sentence is to find the subject and the verb of the sentence. If you put too many words between the subject and the verb in a long sentence, or have multiple subjects or verbs, the reader might get confused. Once you have isolated the subject and verb, build the rest of the sentence around them.

If your sentence still sounds awkward, try to organize it in a logical way.

Don’t be like Michael Scott. Plan your sentences before you write them.

Whether it’s a cause/effect progression, or an increasing or decreasing list of things, complicated sentences need to be planned out or else they will sound jumbled, rambling, or awkward.

If all else fails, see if you can find a similar sentence in someone else’s writing and look at how they did it, or take it to someone who is a more experienced writer and ask them to help.

Awkward Example: As I turned into the room and saw nothing but mirrors, I saw that my reflection was oddly not to be seen.

The first problem with this sentence is that it has multiple subjects and verbs. The first subject is “I” and the verbs are both “turned” and “saw,” then we repeat “I saw” again after the comma, and finally we have “my reflection” and it’s verb is “was.”  So we need to isolate the actual subject and verbs, “I turned and saw.”

Less-awkward Example: I turned and saw that the room was full of mirrors, but I couldn’t see my reflection in any of them.