Sentence Length

This page was first published on the 31st of December, 2016 and last updated on the 31st of December, 2016 by Patrick Carpen.

How long should your sentences be? Testing shows that compositions with an average sentence length of 14 words are easiest to read and understand. Sentences range from 1 word to as long as 50+ words. To find the average sentence length of one of your paragraphs, stories or passages, divide the total number of words by the total number of sentences.

For example, a paragraph that contains 100 words and 10 sentences, has an average sentence length of 10 words. Great writers make use of sentence variety. And they do so not only in sentence structures (simple, compound, complex, compound-complex), and sentence purpose (interrogative, exclamatory, declarative, imperative), but also in sentence length.

Consider the following paragraph.

My second trip Normandy began when my friend Emerson returned from Sao Paulo to visit Lethem for the second time and he called me and asked me if I wanted to go with him for a tour of Normandy hoping that we might learn something interesting. To be honest, at the time I was feeling a bit bored, and even though I had a lot of work to do in preparation for the coming term of teaching, I agreed, because I felt like the break would do wonders to my mind.

Now consider the following:

My second trip to Normandy began when my friend Emerson returned from Sao Paulo. This was actually his second trip to Lethem. He called me and asked me if I wanted to go with him on a tour to Normandy. We both hoped we might learn something interesting. I thought for a while. I had lots of work to do in preparation for the upcoming school term. Still, I agreed. I thought that this trip might do wonders to my half-bored mind.

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