This is a 375-word sentence.

by Kyle Piper

During my time working as a peer consultant in the Writing and Communication Center, I have met several students who have expressed concern over the topic of sentence length, wondering often if their sentences are “too long”–perhaps for fear of triggering some sort of attention-span failsafe in their readers’ brains should too many words be processed before the appearance of a period, which is, admittedly, a somewhat valid concern–but I want to step in and challenge the notion that there is a sort of maximum word count for all sentences ever that, once reached, demands a full stop, as no such rule exists and because, I think, one of the beauties of the English language (complicated, contradictory, and unnecessarily confusing mess that it is) is that its impenetrable, convoluted web of regulations, exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions allows for and practically invites nearly endless linguistic tomfoolery, from writing an entire novel without the letter E (Ernest Vincent Wright’s Gadsby) to simply writing a 375-word blog post in a single, grammatically functional sentence, and while making full use of a language’s flexibility may not always be the most academically sound decision in your day-to-day assignments, I can personally attest to it being a fun exercise at the very least (see also: a short story written almost entirely in passive voice), and it’s certainly worth knowing and understanding that these rules and limitations we’ve become so accustomed to can be bent to such extremes–partially just for fun, and partially to build one’s understanding of and comfort with applying English composition, even at the edges of its functionality—so I think the overall point I’m trying to bring across is that where a sentence becomes “too long” depends entirely on the sentence, the writer, the context, the intent, creative yet appropriate use of punctuation, and probably a bunch of other stuff, so you might do well to worry less about your sentence length and more about your sentence content, especially if you really know your way around conjunctions and punctuation; you might also do well to keep in mind that if you want to make the argument that semicolons don’t end sentences, it becomes much easier to stretch things out if you feel so inclined.


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