How To Write Correct Sentences: Part 2-Compound Sentences

Okay, we’re back with another post on sentence structure.  This one is going to be a little longer.  Let’s see if we’re up for it.

Ready…Set…LEARNSENTENCESTRUCTURE!!!

Compound Sentences
The Quasi-Exciting Science of Sentences!

Compound sentences are made when you combine two independent clauses (those simple sentence, subject+verb things from last time).  The word ‘compound’ can be defined as meaning “made of two or more parts.”  So a compound sentence is made of two simple sentences being joined together.  You can combine two simple sentences (or independent clauses–they’re pretty much the same thing at this point) in three different ways.

Way #1-  Independent Clause(,) Coordinating Conjunction +Independent Clause(.)

A coordinating conjunction is a word, such as and, but, or, so, for, yet, and nor, that allows you to combine two otherwise separate sentences.  That’s it.  Those are your seven coordinating conjunctions.

Here are some examples:

I like cake, and I will eat it.

My dog is named Cake, but please don’t eat him.

I don’t normally eat pets, yet my stomach groans for nourishment.

Piece of cake, right?

The Writing Narwhal Stalks Its Prey

Way #2-  Independent Clause(;) Transitional Expression(,) Independent Clause(.)

Transitional expression: These are words like therefore, nevertheless, however, as a result and so on.  They show a connection between the first sentence and the next one.  There are a bunch of these, and I probably couldn’t think of them all if I had all three-day weekend to do so.  Which I don’t.  I have stuff to do.  But you don’t need to know every single transitional expression to write a proper sentence as long as you get the general idea.

To put the same general idea in another form:

Subject +Verb(semicolon) Transitional Expression(comma) Subject +Verb.

Is this getting technical and boring, or what?  Well, if you learn it and can use it properly, I promise we’ll never talk about it again.  It will be one of those “it-which-shall-not-be-named” kinds of situations.  Let’s look at some examples:

I like cake; therefore, I will eat it.

You sure do like cake; nevertheless, I must forbid you from eating it.

I am a cake-powered robot; however, I can also run on ice cream.

Why is it so angry?

Way #3-  Independent Clause (;) Independent Clause(.)

Okay, this one is pretty simple.  You just use a semicolon to join two complete sentences that are related instead of using a period to separate them.  The semicolon indicates to the reader that the sentence after the semicolon has something to do with the sentence before it.  So why are semicolons so difficult to use?  Usually, it’s because people use them more than is necessary.  Because semicolons aren’t used as much as other types of punctuation, they are more noticeable in a sentence when they are finally used.  If you throw a lot of semicolons into a sentence, people will definitely notice; they’ll think it’s weird.  They’ll think you’re weird.  Don’t be a semicolon weirdo.

Examples:

It must be lunch time; you won’t stop talking about cake.

I don’t think we need another example; one is enough.

Compound Sentences #3
The sinister Dr. Baron Count Semicolon Strikes Again

Got it?

To recap, you can combine two simple sentences to make a compound sentences by using one of the following formats:

  1. Independent Clause(,) Coordinating Conjunction +Independent Clause(.)
  2. Independent Clause(;) Transitional Expression(,) Independent Clause(.)
  3. Independent Clause (;) Independent Clause(.)

We’ll follow up this post with the next type of sentence: the Complex Sentence (how exciting, right?)  As always, 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 always-grateful 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.