What Is the Difference between A Writing and B Writing?

Students sometimes wonder what is the difference between writing which receives a mark of A and that which receives only a B. The difference can usually be summed up in 12 words: variety, conciseness, clarity and completeness, sentence types, sentence variety, and sentence combining.



          Varying the kinds of sentences you use can make your writing lively and distinctive.

          If you experiment with sentence structure, you increase the chance of readers paying attention to what you write.

          To avoid the choppiness produced by a series of short sentences, you can lengthen sentences by:



          (Sometimes abrupt sentences may be used for special effects.)

          Relying too heavily on beginning with a subject can make your writing monotonous; use alternative beginnings:

          Begin with an adverb

(e.g. suddenly,)

          Begin with a prepositional phrase

(e.g. out of necessity,)

          Begin with a transition

(e.g. first, then, furthermore, etc.)

          Remember that when you are experimenting with sentence structure, subordination is as important as coordination.


Avoiding Wordiness and Needless Repetition

          Unnecessary words or phrases distract readers and should be omitted.

          Repetition is a sign of inefficiency.



(repeating for no good reason)

          Unnecessary, inexact words

          Combining sentences or simplifying phrases can eliminate needless words.

          Use pronouns to avoid needlessly repeating a noun or using clumsy synonyms.


          Words that are often omitted in speech are often needed in writing to make the meaning clear.

(e.g. We better study hardWe had better study hard)


          Simple Sentence: One main clause: Contains one subject, one verb, and expresses a complete thought

(Note: The subject and/or the verb can be compound)

          Compound Sentence: Contains two or more main clauses and no subordinate clauses

(Note: These are connected by a semicolon or a comma + coordinate conjunction. They connect main clauses which should be related to each other logically.)

          Complex Sentence: Has one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses.

          Compound-Complex Sentence: Contains two or more main clauses and one or more subordinate clauses.


          Good writing contains a variety of sentence structures and types.

          Another way to improve sentence structure is by the use of parallelism. (In a series, nouns should be balanced with nouns, verbs with verbs, adjectives with adjectives, etc.)


          Sentence combining contributes to a smooth flow of sentences and avoids choppiness that results from a string of main clauses (machine gun effect).

          Avoid choppiness and strung-out compound sentences by:


          Using compound verbs

          Using phrases

          Rewriting one sentence into two or more sentences