Language Center
The Hong Kong University
of Science and Technology
English Advice Sheets

Who is this for?

Effective writing is based on proper knowledge of sentence structures and sentence style. Without the clear idea of sentence structures and style, bits and pieces of grammar rules will be of no use. Constructing simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences correctly and using these sentence types appropriately are pre-requisites of becoming an effective writer.

The aim of this leaflet

This leaflet is for those who want to improve their sentence construction skills and to achieve sentence variety and effectiveness. It introduces you to some learning tips and materials in the SAC related to sentence construction skills and effective style.

Useful materials in the SAC

  • Worksheets

    The following worksheets are on the worksheet shelf under 'Grammar' in the SAC Area A.

    • Under 'Sentence Patterns', look for G/SENT/GSEN/1, 8, 10, 11 or G/SENT/REFE/1 to find out different types of sentences and ways of constructing them. (G/SENT/GSEN/10 would be a good start as it gives a good overview and exercises for different kinds of English sentence structures.)
    • Under 'Connectives', look for G/CONN/GCON/2 to practise the use of general connectives.
    • Under 'Clauses', look for G/CLAU/ADVC/1-6 to study various types of clauses, and try G/CLAU/RELC/1-2, 18-21 to find out more about relative clauses.

  • Books

    The following books are located on the shelf named 'Grammar Practice' and 'Grammar Reference' shelves in the SAC Area A.

    • The Scribner Handbook for Writers
      Read Chapter 13 for an overview of sentence structures and different types of sentences.
      Read Part VII for sentence revision.
      Read Part VIII for sentence style, variety and conciseness.

    • Prentice Hall Handbook for Writers
      Read Chapter 8 & 9 for sentence construction skills.
      Read Chapters 10 & 11 for style, variety and effectiveness of sentences.
      Read Part 3 for sentence style, variety and conciseness.

    • Collins Cobuild English Grammar & Collins Cobuild English Grammar Exercises
      Excellent explanation on how to construct different English sentence structures in Collins Cobuild English Grammar and corresponding exercises in Collins Cobuild English Grammar Exercises (Read Chapter 8).

    • English Guides 9: Linking Words (Collins Cobuild)
      Read Chapter 1 for an overview of compound, complex and compound-complex sentences. Also read Chapters 2 & 4 for more information on complex sentences.

    • Collins Cobuild Student's Grammar
      Read the section named 'Sentence Structure'.

    • The Written Word (Book 1 & Book 2)
      Excellent books for improving sentence construction skills.
      Read Book 1, sections 2.3, 3.3, 3.4, 5.4.
      Read Book 2, sections 1.4, 2.4, 4.6, 5.4, 5.5, 6.3.

  • CD-ROM

    Issues in English
    Select any topic à Go to teaching points à Choose level 3, Conjunctions.

  • WWW

    Some useful materials on the web:
    à Check 'sentence construction' and 'punctuation'.

  • Word Neighbors and WordPilot

    Word Neighbors (online version) and WordPilot (stand alone version) give you access to large collections of English texts, allowing you to search for contexts and grammatical patterns. Word Neighbors is frequently updated. You can use Word Neighbors together with Check My Words to check your use of words and expressions in context as you write.

    You can access Word Neighbors anytime/anywhere from the Check My Words toolbar (download from or directly from

    You can access WordPilot through the computers in the SAC or download it to your own computer:

Learning tips

  • Choose a material you find easy to use to practise different kinds of English sentence structures noting conjunctions, connectors, relative pronouns and punctuation.

  • Whenever you read something written in English, pay attention to sentence patterns and jot down examples from your reading that exemplify patterns you are working on.

  • Expose yourself to many different types of written English to enhance your awareness of style.

  • When you write in English, try to put into practice different kinds of sentence structures you have learned considering appropriateness, effectiveness, and variety.

Evaluating your progress

  • Whenever you work on a particular sentence pattern, try 'pre' and 'post' self-testing with the answer key in the material.
  • When you find it difficult to evaluate your own progress, seek help from your English course instructors, SAC Advisers consultants to comment on your sentence construction skills.

And Now...

If you would like any help or advice, or just a chat about your progress, please get in touch - we are here to support your independent learning! To contact us:

  • see an Adviser, on duty at the SAC Advice Desk (for details of advisers and their availability, please go to
  • e-mail lcsac ( with your query;
  • ask at the reception counter of the SAC — if the receptionist cannot help you directly, s/he will pass your query on to one of the SAC advisers.

The introductory leaflet in this series is the leaflet Improving Your Grammar (G1).

This advice sheet is part of the Grammar series of leaflets supporting independent learning, produced by the HKUST Center for Language Education SAC team. This leaflet was written by Kyungnan Park, and revised by Jacqueline Lam Kam-mei, 2000. Version 2. Last updated: 19 February 2001. If you copy from this leaflet, please acknowledge the source. Thanks.