Healthy Boundaries

In our personal lives, boundaries make for healthy relationships; in our writing lives, sentence boundaries help readers methodically follow a number of thoughts. In his article on Nintendo earnings, Sam Byford’s very sophisticated thought process might be resulting in a sentence structure that is a little bit too long. Byford reaches out to an everyday audience in his first paragraph by using contractions like “that’s” and “what’s” but uses a sentence that contains about five thoughts. Five thoughts in one sentence might be a lot for the average joe, or any reader, to process at one time.

  • Byford writes: “Nintendo has released its earnings for the April-June quarter, and while the figures would normally be strong for what’s usually a slow period, revenue and profit are both down compared to a year ago.

I identified the different thoughts in the sentence, labeling them A, B, C, D, and E – with A as the first idea.

  • “Nintendo just released its earnings for the April-June quarter, (Idea A) and while the figures would be normally strong (Idea B) for what’s usually a slow period, (Idea C) revenue and profit are both down (Idea D) compared to a year ago (Idea E).”

Simply dividing up the five ideas into two sentences, one with A & one with B, C, D, & E together. As a separate sentence, the first idea in this edit adds emphasis.

  • “Nintendo just released its earnings for the April-June quarter, (Idea A). While the figures would be normally strong (Idea B) for what’s usually a slow period, (Idea C) revenue and profit are both down (Idea D) compared to a year ago (Idea E).”

Does the second sentence need editing?

Byford’s GRIPE is among bigs GRINS – with the personality-rich phrase, “riding a surge” and with the alliteration in “strong” and “slow” generating interest.  

If you’re also in the habit of packing too many ideas into one sentence, consider reviewing Grammarly’s discussion on sentence basics. Or, you might want to simply slow down and take a breath before composing your next article. Completing a 1-Minute Mindfulness Exercise before writing might result in more focused language choices. Stay healthy; respect sentence boundaries so that you too can communicate clearly with your audience.

Did my edit make the sentence better or worse? Read the debate about Byford’s sentence on Reddit.

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