An Expert’s Guide To Rewriting Sentences
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Much of developing your writing skills involves learning how to properly edit what you have already written.
Like author Vladimir Nabokov puts it:
“I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.”
But how do you learn to edit?
You start by mastering the rewrite of a single sentence.
Some sentences require lots of manual tinkering. Others involve a single click on an AI writing app.
In this guide, I’ll share the process I use to make sure my editing results in the best work I can produce..
5 ways to rewrite a sentence (with examples)
Not all sentences need the same editing.
Here are five simple tips to transform your sentences from dull to engaging.
Tip 1: Use synonyms
Take a look at the last piece of writing you wrote. Do you notice any repetitive words?
As we write, we become comfortable with certain words and tend to use the same ones over and over again. But familiar words aren’t always the best option and can make your writing repetitive.
Let's say you often use the adjective “interesting.” Look out for areas where you’re using this word often and try using a synonym like “intriguing” or “fascinating” instead.
Switching up your synonyms adds variety to your writing and keeps the reader from becoming bored.
Here are some ways to add synonyms to your work:
1. Pay attention to repetitive words and phrases: Use the “find” function (command + f on Mac, ctrl + alt + f on PC) and put in a word you suspect you might use a lot. This makes it easy to see how often that word appears and make quick changes.
2. Ask yourself, “Does this sentence emphasize the point I’m trying to make?”
Example: “Adding hashtags is a good way to gain more social media followers.”
Here, the word “good” suggests hashtags aren’t necessarily crucial but can help. If you wanted to emphasize that hashtags are important, you would write:
“Adding hashtags is an effective way to gain more social media followers” or “a valuable way.” Notice how these synonyms make hashtags add weight to what you’re trying to say.
3. Make sure it sounds natural: Don’t replace every word with fancy synonyms that are hardly used. Use terms that sound natural and fit the tone of your writing. Be mindful of your tone of voice and audience.
A good tip is to read your sentence aloud to yourself. Does it sound awkward? Is this synonym you used too formal or casual for your readers? Would they use this synonym themselves?
Tip 2: Change passive to active voice
Active voice is about making your writing direct and to the point. In an active sentence, the subject—a person, place, or thing—performs the action. For example, "The student writes the paper" is written using the active voice. Meanwhile, "The paper was written by the student" is written using the passive voice.
Here are some examples of how to change passive voice into active voice:
The first step in learning how to write in an active voice is reviewing your work and highlighting passive sentences. A helpful way to spot a passive sentence is to see if it includes the word "was” or a past-tense verb (ending in “-ed”) followed by “by.” The more you practice, the easier it is to spot passive voice.
Then, you can make passive sentences active by identifying the subject and restructuring each sentence so the subject is at the front.
Tip 3: Remove unnecessary words
Unnecessary words can make a sentence too long or difficult to understand. Here are some tips to remove fluff from your sentences.
Cut back on adverbs
An adverb is a word that can describe various parts of speech, such as verbs and adjectives. They often describe how, in what way, when, where, or to what extent something happened.
While adverbs can bring color and life to your writing, limiting how many you use can help keep your sentences direct and concise.
Here’s how you can do this:
With adverb: “They quietly spoke to their friend.”
Without adverb: “They whispered to their friend.”
With adverb: “I’m definitely certain that is correct.”
Without adverb: “I’m certain that is correct.”
Watch out for repeats
When describing or emphasizing a point, it's easy to end up using words that mean the same thing. For example, “The food was tasty and delicious,” or “With time, the software will become less complicated and confusing.”
Repeating information makes sentences longer without adding anything useful. Double-check you’re not making the same point twice.
Shorten sentences with Wordtune Editor
Use the Wordtune Editor to rewrite sentences quickly. Simply type your sentence and click the “Shorten” button. You’ll see several options for shortening the sentence by removing irrelevant words but still keeping the same meaning. Choose the one you think works best.
Tip 4: Add sensory language
Sensory language helps your reader imagine what you’re describing, which makes your writing more engaging. Studies show that sensory language can increase engagement and sales on social media as people are more likely to trust descriptive details.
Without sensory language: “I ordered a slice of cake.”
With sensory language: “I ordered a slice of decadent chocolate cake.”
The second example evokes vivid images—and even scents—of rich chocolate, bringing your writing to life.
When you’re working out how to rewrite a sentence that includes sensory language, it can be as simple as adding a word or two. Think about what you’re trying to describe: How does it affect the five senses? Let’s explore examples based on sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
Here are some ways to rewrite sentences with sensory language:
1. Decide on your overall message: What are the key points you want people to know? In the example below, cosmetic brand Bobbi Brown has launched a Luxe lipstick line. Words like “rich satin” and “silky-soft” play on readers’ sense of touch while conveying images of opulence, which aligns with the lipstick’s luxury theme.
2. Consider which senses are significant to your writing: If you’re selling a food product, the smell or taste might be more important than how it feels and looks. Or, if you’re describing an article of clothing, you’ll want to use words to describe the fabric: color, feel, weight, and how it fits. As your audience reads your text, what do you want them to imagine?
Tip 5: Break up run-on sentences
Run-on sentences consist of two or more sentences that can stand on their own but aren’t joined together properly. For example: “I would like to arrange a meeting I’m unavailable until next Monday.”
Notice how this sentence feels too wordy because two separate points are put together without a pause.
If you’re having trouble spotting run-on sentences, read your work aloud. Look for sentences that seem too long or difficult to understand. Fix them in three ways:
- Use a period to split the sentences in two
Example: “I would like to arrange a meeting. I’m unavailable until next Monday.”
- Bridge the two points together with a conjunction
Example: “I would like to arrange a meeting, but I’m unavailable until next Monday.”
- Add a semicolon
Example: “I would like to arrange a meeting; I’m unavailable until next Monday.”
With a few simple tweaks, it’s easy to rewrite a sentence to make it sound engaging and concise.
Before editing, read your work out loud. Highlight sentences that sound dull and drawn out. Then, decide if you can remove unnecessary words, replace synonyms, add sensory language, switch to active voice, or break up a run-on sentence. Using these techniques, you can transform a sentence without losing its meaning.
Looking for other ways to improve your writing? Check out our guides on writing skills on our blog.
What does it mean to rewrite a sentence?
Rewriting a sentence involves editing its structure or wording while retaining its original meaning. It’s about making it easier to understand and more engaging to read.
How can you tell if a sentence needs to be rewritten?
You might consider rewriting a sentence if it’s too long or feels awkward or unclear when you read it. You could also rewrite sentences that use repeated words, passive voice, and too many adverbs.
Can rewriting sentences improve writing skills?
Rewriting improves writing skills by teaching you to think about the structure of your sentences and the words you use. Editing sentences can help you spot redundant words, passive voice, and run-on sentences. With practice, this helps you become a better writer.