Five Ways to Lengthen your TOEFL Sentences

These five ways to lengthen your TOEFL sentences will help to improve your speaking and writing proficiency.

Five Ways to Lengthen your TOEFL Sentences


Why do I need to lengthen my sentences during the speaking and writing sections of the TOEFL exam?

  • During the speaking and writing sections of the TOEFL exam, you will be judged on your language use. Speech rater, an artificial intelligence that evaluates your TOEFL speaking tasks, will closely scrutinize your sentence structure and grammar. E-rater, Educational Testing Service’s artificial intelligence, will make similar judgments about your writing.
  • In either case, too many 10 to 20-word sentences will indicate to these scoring engines that you are using mostly basic grammar and sentence structure as you complete your speaking and writing tasks.
  • Therefore, lengthening your sentences to 20 to 30 words will show both the scoring engines and the iBT human raters that you have advanced grammar and sentence structure.

What are the five ways to lengthen my TOEFL sentences?

Below are five types of sentence structures that will help you to increase the length of your TOEFL sentences:

  • Introductory prepositional and infinitive phrases
  • Complex sentences with introductory and post-nominal clauses
  • Appositives
  • Present and past participial phrases
  • Adjective, Noun, and Adverb clauses at the end of the sentence

Five Ways to Lengthen your TOEFL Sentences: Introductory prepositional and infinitive phrases

Prepositional phrases consist of a preposition and a noun phrase.  They can be placed at the beginning of a sentence. In some cases, these prepositional phrases are restrictive and should not be followed by commas. In other cases, however, prepositional phrases are non-restrictive and should be followed by commas.

  • Restrictive introductory prepositional phrase: Next to the meandering river in the hidden wilderness was an old log that was worn from many years of weathering from the harmful rays of the sun.
  • Non-restrictive introductory prepositional phrase: At the bank last week, I deposited several thousand dollars from the paychecks I had received from my sales efforts with Toyota, with which I have worked for more than 25 years.

A restrictive prepositional phrase is needed to complete the grammar/meaning of the sentence. A non-restrictive prepositional phrase, on the other hand, can be removed from the sentence without disrupting the grammar or without any loss of meaning.

Complex sentences with introductory and post-nominal adjective, adverb, and adjective clauses

Noun and adverb clauses can occur in the beginning and at the end of the sentence. In these cases, a comma is placed after introductory adverb clauses. In contrast, no comma is needed with introductory noun clauses. However, commas are usually not needed when dependent clauses occur at the end of sentences.

  • Introductory adverb clauseAlthough the students needed more time to complete their research projects, the professor refused to grant them an extension.
  • Introductory noun clause: That several students missed the final exam concerned the professor since they would all fail the course.
  • Post-nominal adjective clause: Last week, after I completed my homework in my physics class, I went to Los Angeles and visited Thomas Reigns, who was my roommate last year when I was attending UCLA.
  • Post-nominal adverb clause: Many cities in the United States are enacting laws to combat climate change because greenhouse gases are causing global warming.
  • Post-nominal noun clause:  The professor made it mandatory that all attending students complete the final research project before the deadline.


Appositives are noun phrases that modify other noun phrases. These adjectival modifiers can occur directly after or before the nouns they modify. A comma(s) usually accompanies these grammar structures.

  • An appositive at the beginning: A student of integrity, respect, and intelligence, English major Rika Tuniko won the praise of faculty, staff, and fellow classmates after her powerful presentation on race and equity.
  • An appositive after the subject: Several students, all residents of San Bernardino, were invited to attend the White House in which United States president Joe Biden honored them for their contributions to green energy and climate change
  • An appositive after the object: Two years ago, I participated in the Carlsbad 5000, a 5K race attended by more than 30,000 runners.

Present and past participial phrases

Present and past participial phrases act as adjectives.  Therefore, they modify nouns.  These adjectival phrases can be placed in various parts of the sentence directly after or before the nouns they modify.

  • Present participial phrase at the beginning: Having waited for more than three hours, the student was finally able to discuss her grade with the professor.
  • Past participial phrases after the subject:  The Apple Smartphone, broken after being dropped repeated by the user, will need to be replaced.

Compound sentences with the FANBOYS

Creating compound sentences essentially doubles the length of a sentence. To create, this type of sentence, you need to connect two independent clauses together using one of the FANBOYS:

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

Below are examples of two compound sentences.

  • Compound sentence using “for“:  Most students taking the TOEFL iBT registered at least one month in advance, for they want to make sure they will be guaranteed a seat during the exam.
  • Compound sentence using “but”: Becoming familiar with TOEFL test-taking skills and strategies is important, but students also need to concentrate on improving their academic English language proficiency if they want to get a higher score.


Teaching Experience

TOEFL Speaking and Writing Feedback Service

TOEFL Private Lessons

Online TOEFL Courses


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.