Long sentences

You should always try to avoid long sentences. Below are two examples, as well as some facts about long sentences in general.

In 2005, Halton Borough Council put up a notice to tell the public about its plans to move a path from one place to another. Quite astonishingly, the notice was a 630 word sentence, which picked up one of our Golden Bull awards that year. Here is it in full.

630 words

'A path from a point approximately 330 metres east of the most south westerly corner of 17 Batherton Close, Widnes and approximately 208 metres east-south-east of the most southerly corner of Unit 3 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street, Widnes, proceeding in a generally east-north-easterly direction for approximately 28 metres to a point approximately 202 metres east-south-east of the most south-easterly corner of Unit 4 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street, and approximately 347 metres east of the most south-easterly corner of 17 Batherton Close, then proceeding in a generally northerly direction for approximately 21 metres to a point approximately 210 metres east of the most south-easterly corner of Unit 5 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street, and approximately 202 metres east-south-east of the most north-easterly corner of Unit 4 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street, then proceeding in a generally east-north-east direction for approximately 64 metres to a point approximately 282 metres east-south-east of the most easterly corner of Unit 2 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street, Widnes and approximately 259 metres east of the most southerly corner of Unit 4 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street, then proceeding in a generally east-north-east direction for approximately 350 metres to a point approximately 3 metres west-north-west of the most north westerly corner of the boundary fence of the scrap metal yard on the south side of Cornubia Road, Widnes, and approximately 47 metres west-south-west of the stub end of Cornubia Road be diverted to a 3 metre wide path from a point approximately 183 metres east-south-east of the most easterly corner of Unit 5 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street and approximately 272 metres east of the most north-easterly corner of 26 Ann Street West, Widnes, then proceeding in a generally north easterly direction for approximately 58 metres to a point approximately 216 metres east-south-east of the most easterly corner of Unit 4 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street and approximately 221 metres east of the most southerly corner of Unit 5 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street, then proceeding in a generally easterly direction for approximately 45 metres to a point approximately 265 metres east-south-east of the most north-easterly corner of Unit 3 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street and approximately 265 metres east of the most southerly corner of Unit 5 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street, then proceeding in a generally east-south-east direction for approximately 102 metres to a point approximately 366 metres east-south-east of the most easterly corner of Unit 3 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street and approximately 463 metres east of the most north easterly corner of 22 Ann Street West, Widnes, then proceeding in a generally north-north-easterly direction for approximately 19 metres to a point approximately 368 metres east-south-east of the most easterly corner of Unit 3 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street and approximately 512 metres east of the most south easterly corner of 17 Batherton Close, Widnes then proceeding in a generally east-south, easterly direction for approximately 16 metres to a point approximately 420 metres east-south-east of the most southerly corner of Unit 2 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street and approximately 533 metres east of the most south-easterly corner of 17 Batherton Close, then proceeding in a generally east-north-easterly direction for approximately 240 metres to a point approximately 606 metres east of the most northerly corner of Unit 4 Foundry Industrial Estate, Victoria Street and approximately 23 metres south of the most south westerly corner of the boundary fencing of the scrap metal yard on the south side of Cornubia Road, Widnes, then proceeding in a generally northern direction for approximately 44 metres to a point approximately 3 metres west-north-west of the most north westerly corner of the boundary fence of the scrap metal yard on the south side of Cornubia Road and approximately 47 metres west-south-west of the stub end of Cornubia Road.’


The sentence below was found in a legal contract, and was until recently the longest sentence we had seen in an official document.

516 words

'In the event that the Purchaser defaults in the payment of any instalment of purchase price, taxes, insurance, interest, or the annual charge described elsewhere herein, or shall default in the performance of any other obligations set forth in this Contract, the Seller may: at his option: (a) Declare immediately due and payable the entire unpaid balance of purchase price, with accrued interest, taxes, and annual charge, and demand full payment thereof, and enforce conveyance of the land by termination of the contract or according to the terms hereof, in which case the Purchaser shall also be liable to the Seller for reasonable attorney's fees for services rendered by any attorney on behalf of the Seller, or (b) sell said land and premises or any part thereof at public auction, in such manner, at such time and place, upon such terms and conditions, and upon such public notice as the Seller may deem best for the interest of all concerned, consisting of advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city in which the security property is located at least once a week for Three (3) successive weeks or for such period as applicable law may require and, in case of default of any purchaser, to re-sell with such postponement of sale or resale and upon such public notice thereof as the Seller may determine, and upon compliance by the Purchaser with the terms of sale, and upon judicial approval as may be required by law, convey said land and premises in fee simple to and at the cost of the Purchaser, who shall not be liable to see to the application of the purchase money; and from the proceeds of the sale: First to pay all proper costs and charges, including but not limited to court costs, advertising expenses, auctioneer's allowance, the expenses, if any required to correct any irregularity in the title, premium for Seller's bond, auditor's fee, attorney's fee, and all other expenses of sale occurred in and about the protection and execution of this contract, and all moneys advanced for taxes, assessments, insurance, and with interest thereon as provided herein, and all taxes due upon said land and premises at time of sale, and to retain as compensation a commission of five percent (5%) on the amount of said sale or sales; SECOND, to pay the whole amount then remaining unpaid of the principal of said contract, and interest thereon to date of payment, whether the same shall be due or not, it being understood and agreed that upon such sale before maturity of the contract the balance thereof shall be immediately due and payable; THIRD, to pay liens of record against the security property according to their priority of lien and to the extent that funds remaining in the hands of the Seller are available; and LAST, to pay the remainder of said proceeds, if any, to the vendor, his heirs, personals representatives, successors or assigns upon the delivery and surrender to the vendee of possession of the land and premises, less costs and excess of obtaining possession.'


Some facts about long sentences

  • Jonathan Coe's novel, 'The Rotters' Club', contains a sentence of 13,955 words. This is generally considered to be the longest sentence in English literature.
  • One of Molly Bloom's soliloquies in James Joyce's epic novel 'Ulysses' features a sentence of 4,491 words.
  • The Guinness Book of Records lists the longest proper sentence as one from William Faulkner's novel 'Absalom, Absalom!' (1,287 words).
  • Some ancient languages, such as Sanskrit and Greek, did not have any punctuation. So all their sentences were long!
  • A Polish novel, 'Bramy Raju', contains a 40,000-word sentence.
  • There is a Czech novel, by Bohumil Hrabal, called 'Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age' which is one long sentence.
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