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What Is a Balanced Sentence?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 23, 2024
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A balanced sentence is a sentence that achieves a certain kind of equilibrium in its multiple parts. Experts most commonly define a balanced sentence as one that has two clauses. These clauses are most often balanced in terms of length, and may also be balanced in terms of importance or grammatical weight.

In balanced sentences, it’s important that clauses are well defined within the entire unit. This is most commonly achieved with a semicolon, though some writers can also use connecting words like “and.” With this goal achieved, it’s important to look at how the clauses contrast with each other or complement each other in terms of balance.

Many of the balanced examples of sentences found in literature have an analogous structure. These sentences will contrast one idea to another, and present a kind of equality. For example, a sentence like “Oranges are orange; apples are red.” is a very simple, and a basic expression of the analogous balanced sentence. Here, the numbers and length of the words are the same, the amount of importance in each clause is balanced, and the words of the two clauses relate to each other in the same way.

Another type of balanced sentence is a contrasting sentence. Some experts call this a sentence with an “antithesis." Here, a contrast is set up through conflict, with the conjunction, “but,” often used to separate the two ideas. Alternately, a semicolon is used. For example, a sentence like “This car is great on the highway, but it rarely does well in city traffic.” displays a balanced sentence by directly contrasting two opposite ideas.

A main distinction for a balanced type of sentence is that the great majority of these sentences can easily be split into two successive sentences. In fact, some linguists would suggest that this adaptability is a good test for establishing a balanced sentence. In these situations, writers or speakers could simply use the word “however” to break up the balanced sentence into two separate sentences. Where these connecting words are not favored, balanced sentences can be a popular way to comply with style requirements, or otherwise detail a piece of writing.

Balanced sentences also help writers who struggle with issues related to run on sentences. A run on sentence is indicated by its excessive length and use of connectors, or missing punctuation. Using a balanced sentence structure can help the writer avoid a run on sentence.

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Discussion Comments
By MissDaphne — On Oct 07, 2011

@Sunny27 - It will! It's important to use all different kinds of sentences. One thing that I like to do as a teacher was have students find and write down sentences that they came across in their own reading and that they are particularly impressed by.

It can also be helpful to look for real-life sentences of certain types (complex, compound, etc.) to see how these work for real. Grammar book sentences can be very artificial!

Another game you can play is to take two or three simple sentences and practice all the ways that they could be combined, and talk about how the meaning is slightly different based on how you put them together and what words or punctuation marks are added.

By Sunny27 — On Oct 07, 2011

My daughter is studying sentence structure in her grammar class and I reviewed all sorts of compound sentences with her. I told her that compound usually refers to the number two so she knows that a compound sentence has to have too independent sentences and are joined by a conjunction.

I played her the Schoolhouse Rock song from the DVD called, “Conjunction Function” and that really makes her understand this subject.

She was told by her teacher that she had to change her writing style and vary the types of sentences in order to make her narrative more interesting. The teacher said that she needed to use more complex sentences instead of using multiple simple sentences that only had one subject and one predicate.

The teacher said that if she does this it will improve her style of writing.

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