A left-branching sentence is one in which the subject and verb do not appear until the sentence has wandered around for quite some time:
“Only offering height modifications in certain areas, explicitly describing what the city wants buildings to look like in [City] Junction and charging non-residential developments a fee to pay for affordable housing are three ideas [City] planners may implement this spring…”
The subject and verb of this sentence is “…three ideas [city] planners may implement this spring,” but we must read read 32 words before we can know what this sentence is all about.
We could right-branch this sentence this way:[City] planners may implement the following three ideas this spring:
- Only offering height modifications in certain areas
- Explicitly describing what the city wants buildings to look like in [City] Junction
- Charging non-residential developments a fee to pay for affordable housing
This revision also breaks out the long series items into a bulleted list, which makes the sentence easier to scan and comprehend. No extra charge!
We should always strive to make it easier for our audiences to read our sentences.