How To Write Correct Sentences: Part 4-Compound-Complex Sentences

Have you ever read a sentence that seems to go on for pages and pages, yet it is entirely grammatically correct? Writers who understand how parts of sentences fit together gain the freedom to be able to construct ridiculous syntactical wonders like that. Of course, you don’t want to write like that all the time–Simple Sentences can be just as impressive if used correctly–but it’s nice to know how to do it when you need it.

Once you know how to create Simple Sentences, Compound Sentences, and Complex Sentences, you can combine the elements in these sentences to create longer, more intricate and elaborate sentences.  These are the types of sentences that can really wow your reader if you use them right–we’re talkin’ A+, college level writing that makes a person sound all smart and fancy.

Because Compound-Complex sentences are pretty much just pieces of other types of sentences that have been combined in different ways, there is practically an infinite number of ways to make them, so we’ll just show you a couple of examples.

1. Subordinating Conjunction+ Independent Clause(,) Independent Clause(,) Coordinating Conjunction+ Independent Clause(.)

Because I need an example here, I will fill in the blanks with random stuff, and then I will go back and put in real information.

Since I missed most of the movie, I decided to see it again, but this time I didn’t get the extra large soda.

2.  Independent Clause(,) Coordinating Conjunction+ Independent Clause+ Subordinating Conjunction+ Independent Clause(.)

The dog in the movie signed a million dollar contract, but the deal was worth it since the negotiations were rough.

I’ve been too lazy to get my learner’s permit, so I won’t be getting my license until I have more drive.

There are many ways to make sentences (besides just making bad jokes), but don’t get too worried about it; as long as you follow the basic rules for Simple, Compound, and Complex Sentences, then the Compound-Complex Sentences you write should turn out fine.  However, if you still have some questions, feel free to send us a comment or email.  We’ll try to post the question and any answers we can provide.

Until next time.

-The SDA Writing Lab

How to Write Correct Sentences: Part 1-Simple Sentences

During your time in school, you’ve probably seen sentences written by famous authors that have the same mistakes in them for which your teachers have marked you down.  Maybe the sentences go on too long and don’t have commas in the right places, or maybe the sentences use semicolons in a weird way, or maybe some of the sentences just don’t make sense at all.  You’ve probably thought to yourself, If they can do it, why can’t I? So how come the Hemingways and Faulkners of the world can throw a bunch of words and punctuation on a page and win a Nobel Prize while you get stuck with a C+?

It’s because they’re famous.  Kinda.

Many of us assume that famous writers already know how to write correctly and that when they do something unconventional, it’s on purpose.  It probably isn’t fair to make such an assumption, but who’s going to call those writers out?  (We’re talkin’ about freakin’ Hemingway here, man!)  Sure, just because they are famous writers doesn’t make them right, but it does mean that any one of them could probably spell his or her own name wrong and half the people in the world would call that writer a genius for doing so. (1)

Unfortunately for you, most of your teachers aren’t looking to see how creatively you can bend or break the longstanding rules that crotchety old grammatical institutions have valued for centuries; they just want to see that you know how to write correctly.  So before you can wow the world with your…::cough::…original use of commas, you have to show them that you know what you’re doing.  You have to know the basics.  It is only after you can show that you’ve learned these simple rules that teachers may start to appreciate that abstract masterpiece of a style analysis essay you skillfully threw together at 2 AM on some random Tuesday night.

So let’s begin.

The first type of sentence you should know how to put together is the most basic one.  This sentence is made up of two essential parts: the subject and the verb (or predicate).  The subject is the person/place/thing/whatever that is doing something.  The verb is the action being done.  In a simplified sense, the predicate is that part of the sentence that is not the subject that includes the verb and what the verb is governing or what is modifying it.  Sentences can get more complex and wacky than this, but let’s just start with this basic concept for now.

In the example above, ‘I’ would be the subject and ‘fly’ would be the verb.  That’s it!  That’s all it takes to make a simple sentence.  You can also have longer simple sentences, such as You got dust in my latte. ‘You’ is the subject and ‘got’ is the verb.  If you’re having trouble finding the subject (the who, or what) of a sentence, just look for the verb (action being done), and then see who or what is doing it.  Sometimes the subject is implied, such as in the sentence Stop! ‘Stop’ is the action, and it is implied that the person being told to stop is the subject, such as in “Stop, you jerk!”  (<-I like to imagine it’s probably a New Yorker yelling this)

Wow, even working on basic sentences can get pretty complicated, no?

We’ll follow up this post with the next type of sentence: the Compound Sentence.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments section.  We’ll do our best to answer them.  (To help prevent spam, all comments must be reviewed by the Lab before they will show up in the comments section, so there’s no need to stress if you send a comment and it doesn’t show up instantly.  Please give us a day or two to filter through them, or send us an email at **sdawritinglab(at)gmail.com**)

Thanks for reading!

-Your Humble SDA Writing Lab

(1)  The authors of this Writing Lab blog reserve this same right, known in our contracts as the “genius” clause (or “genious” clause), to be held completely unaccountable for any supposed mistakes that we make.  If we messed up, then we did it on purpose.  For creative reasons.  So there.