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SentenceCombiningSkills

SENTENCECOMBINING
SKILLS

Selectfromthefollowing

TheNeedtoCombineSentences
Sentenceshavetobecombinedtoavoidthemonotonythatwouldsurelyresultifall
sentenceswerebriefandofequallength.(Ifyouhaven'talreadyreadthem,seethesections
onAvoidingPrimerStyleandSentenceVariety.)Partofthewriter'staskistoemploy
whatevermusicisavailabletohimorherinlanguage,andpartoflanguage'smusiclies
withintherhythmsofvariedsentencelengthandstructure.Evenpoetswhowritewithin
theformallimitsandsamenessofaniambicpentameterbeatwillsometimesstrikeachord
againstthatbeatandvarythestructureoftheirclausesandsentencelength,thuskeeping
thetextaliveandthereaderawake.Thissectionwillexploresomeofthetechniqueswe
ordinarywritersusetocombinesentences.

CompoundingSentences
Acompoundsentenceconsistsoftwoormoreindependentclauses.Thatmeans
thatthereareatleasttwounitsofthoughtwithinthesentence,eitheroneofwhichcan
standbyitselfasitsownsentence.Theclausesofacompoundsentenceareeither
separatedbyasemicolon(relativelyrare)orconnectedbyacoordinatingconjunction
(whichis,moreoftenthannot,precededbyacomma).Andthetwomostcommon
coordinatingconjunctionsareandandbut.(Theothersareor,for,yet,andso.)Thisisthe
simplesttechniquewehaveforcombiningideas:
MeriwetherLewisisjustlyfamousforhisexpeditionintotheterritoryofthe
LouisianaPurchaseandbeyond,butfewpeopleknowofhiscontributionsto
naturalscience.
LewishadbeenwelltrainedbyscientistsinPhiladelphiapriortohis
expedition,andhewasacuriousmanbynature.
Noticethattheanddoeslittlemorethanlinkoneideatoanotherthebutalsolinks,butit
doesmoreworkintermsofestablishinganinterestingrelationshipbetweenideas.Theand
ispartoftheimmediatelanguagearsenalofchildrenandofdreams:onethingsimply
comesafteranotherandthelogicalrelationshipbetweentheideasisnotalwaysevidentor
important.Thewordbut(andtheothercoordinators)isataslightlyhigherlevelof
argument.
Clickheretoreviewtherulesofcommausagewhenyoucombinetwoindependent
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clauseswithacoordinatingconjunction.

CompoundingSentenceElements
Withinasentence,ideascanbeconnectedbycompoundingvarioussentence
elements:subjects,verbs,objectsorwholepredicates,modifiers,etc.Noticethatwhentwo
suchelementsofasentencearecompoundedwithacoordinatingconjunction(asopposed
tothetwoindependentclausesofacompoundsentence),theconjunctionisusually
adequateandnocommaisrequired.
Subjects:Whentwoormoresubjectsaredoingparallelthings,theycanoftenbe
combinedasacompoundedsubject.
Workingtogether,PresidentJeffersonandMeriwetherLewis
convincedCongresstoraisemoneyfortheexpedition.

Objects:Whenthesubject(s)is/areactingupontwoormorethingsinparallel,theobjects
canbecombined.
PresidentJeffersonbelievedthattheheadwatersoftheMissourireachedall
thewaytotheCanadianborder.
HealsobelievedthatmeanthecouldclaimallthatlandfortheUnitedStates.
PresidentJeffersonbelievedthattheheadwatersoftheMissourimightreach
allthewaytotheCanadianborderandthathecouldclaimallthatlandfor
theUnitedStates.
Noticethattheobjectsmustbeparallelinconstruction:Jeffersonbelievedthatthiswas
trueandthatwastrue.Iftheobjectsarenotparallel(Jeffersonwasconvincedoftwo
things:thattheMissourireachedallthewaytotheCanadianborderandwantedtobegin
theexpeditionduringhisterminoffice.)thesentencecangoawry.Clickheretoreview
theprinciplesofparallelism.
Verbsandverbals:Whenthesubject(s)is/aredoingtwothingsatonce,ideascan
sometimesbecombinedbycompoundingverbsandverbforms.
Hestudiedthebiologicalandnaturalsciences.
Helearnedhowtocategorizeanddrawanimalsaccurately.
Hestudiedthebiologicalandnaturalsciencesandlearnedhowto
categorizeanddrawanimalsaccurately.
Noticethatthereisnocommaprecedingthe"andlearned"connectingthecompounded
elementsabove.
InPhiladelphia,Lewislearnedtochartthemovementofthestars.
Healsolearnedtoanalyzetheirmovementswithmathematicalprecision.
InPhiladelphia,Lewislearnedtochartandanalyzethemovementofthe
starswithmathematicalprecision.
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ORInPhiladelphia,Lewislearnedtochartthestarsandanalyzetheir
movementswithmathematicalprecision.

(Noticeinthissecondversionthatwedon'thavetorepeatthe"to"oftheinfinitiveto
maintainparallelform.)
Modifiers:Wheneveritisappropriate,modifierssuchasprepositionalphrasescanbe
compounded.
LewisandClarkrecruitedsomeoftheiradventurersfromrivertownbars.
Theyalsousedrecruitsfromvariousmilitaryoutposts.
LewisandClarkrecruitedtheiradventurersfromrivertownbarsand
variousmilitaryoutposts.
Noticethatwedonotneedtorepeattheprepositionfromtomaketheideassuccessfully
parallelinform.

SubordinatingOneClausetoAnother
Theactofcoordinatingclausessimplylinksideassubordinatingoneclauseto
anotherestablishesamorecomplexrelationshipbetweenideas,showingthatoneidea
dependsonanotherinsomeway:achronologicaldevelopment,acauseandeffect
relationship,aconditionalrelationship,etc.
WilliamClarkwasnotofficiallygrantedtherankofcaptainpriortothe
expedition'sdeparture.
CaptainLewismoreorlessignoredthistechnicalityandtreatedClarkashis
equalinauthorityandrank.
AlthoughWilliamClarkwasnotofficiallygrantedtherankofcaptainpriorto
theexpedition'sdeparture,CaptainLewismoreorlessignoredthis
technicalityandtreatedClarkashisequalinauthorityandrank.
TheexplorersapproachedtheheadwatersoftheMissouri.
Theydiscovered,totheirhorror,thattheRockyMountainrangestood
betweenthemandtheirgoal,apassagetothePacific.
AstheexplorersapproachedtheheadwatersoftheMissouri,theydiscovered,
totheirhorror,thattheRockyMountainrangestoodbetweenthemandtheir
goal,apassagetothePacific.
Whenweusesubordinationofclausestocombineideas,therulesofpunctuationare
veryimportant.Itmightbeagoodideatoreviewthedefinitionofclausesatthispointand
theusesofthecommainsettingoffintroductoryandparentheticalelements.

UsingAppositivestoConnectIdeas
Theappositiveisprobablythemostefficienttechniquewehaveforcombiningideas.
Anappositiveorappositivephraseisarenaming,areidentification,ofsomethingearlier
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inthetext.Youcanthinkofanappositiveasamodifyingclausefromwhichtheclausal
machinery(usuallyarelativepronounandalinkingverb)hasbeenremoved.Anappositive
isoften,butnotalways,aparentheticalelementwhichrequiresapairofcommastosetit
offfromtherestofthesentence.
Sacagawea,whowasoneoftheIndianwivesofCharbonneau,whowasa
Frenchfurtrader,accompaniedtheexpeditionasatranslator.
Apregnant,fifteenyearoldIndianwoman,Sacagawea,oneofthewivesof
theFrenchfurtraderCharbonneau,accompaniedtheexpeditionasa
translator.
Noticethatinthesecondsentence,above,Sacagawea'snameisaparentheticalelement
(structurally,thesentenceadequatelyidentifiesheras"apregnant,fifteenyearoldIndian
woman"),andthushernameissetoffbycommasCharbonneau'sname,however,is
essentialtothemeaningofthesentence(otherwise,whichfurtraderarewetalkingabout?)
andisnotsetoffbyapairofcommas.Clickhereforadditionalhelpidentifyingand
punctuatingaroundparentheticalelements.

UsingParticipialPhrasestoConnectIdeas
Awritercanintegratetheideaofonesentenceintoalargerstructurebyturningthat
ideaintoamodifyingphrase.
CaptainLewisallowedhismentomakeimportantdecisionsinademocratic
manner.
Thisdemocraticattitudefosteredaspiritoftogethernessandcommitmenton
thepartofLewis'sfellowexplorers.
Allowinghismentomakeimportantdecisionsinademocratic
manner,Lewisfosteredaspiritoftogethernessandcommitmentamonghis
fellowexplorers.
Inthesentenceabove,theparticipialphrasemodifiesthesubjectofthesentence,
Lewis.Phraseslikethisareusuallysetofffromtherestofthesentencewithacomma.
Theexpeditionaryforcewascompletelyoutoftouchwiththeirfamiliesfor
overtwoyears.
TheyputtheirfaithentirelyinLewisandClark'sleadership.
Theyneveroncerebelledagainsttheirauthority.
Completelyoutoftouchwiththeirfamiliesforovertwoyears,the
menoftheexpeditionputtheirfaithinLewisandClark'sleadershipandnever
oncerebelledagainsttheirauthority.

UsingAbsolutePhrasestoConnectIdeas
Perhapsthemostelegantandmostmisunderstoodmethodofcombiningideasis
theabsolutephrase.Thisphrase,whichisoftenfoundatthebeginningofsentence,is
madeupofanoun(thephrase's"subject")followed,moreoftenthannot,byaparticiple.
Othermodifiersmightalsobepartofthephrase.Thereisnotrueverbinanabsolute
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phrase,however,anditisalwaystreatedasaparentheticalelement,anintroductory
modifier,whichissetoffbyacomma.
Theabsolutephrasemightbeconfusedwithaparticipialphrase,andthedifference
betweenthemisstructurallyslightbutsignificant.Theparticipialphrasedoesnotcontain
thesubjectparticiplerelationshipoftheabsolutephraseitmodifiesthesubjectofthethe
independentclausethatfollows.Theabsolutephrase,ontheotherhand,issaidtomodify
theentireclausethatfollows.Inthefirstcombinedsentencebelow,forinstance,the
absolutephrasemodifiesthesubjectLewis,butitalsomodifiestheverb,tellingus"under
whatconditions"or"inwhatway"or"how"hedisappointedtheworld.Theabsolute
phrasethusmodifiestheentiresubsequentclauseandshouldnotbeconfusedwitha
danglingparticiple,whichmustmodifythesubjectwhichimmediatelyfollows.
Lewis'sfameandfortunewasvirtuallyguaranteedbyhisexploits.
Lewisdisappointedtheentireworldbyinexplicablyfailingtopublishhis
journals.
Hisfameandfortunevirtuallyguaranteedbyhisexploits,Lewis
disappointedtheentireworldbyinexplicablyfailingtopublishhisjournals.

Lewis'slongjourneywasfinallycompleted.
HismenintheCorpsofDiscoveryweredispersed.
LewisdiedafewyearslateronhiswaybacktoWashington,D.C.,
completelyalone.
HislongjourneycompletedandhismenintheCorpsofDiscovery
dispersed,LewisdiedafewyearslateronhiswaybacktoWashington,
D.C.,completelyalone.

First Quiz on Sentence


Combining
Second Quiz on Sentence
Combining
Third Quiz on Sentence
Combining
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Theideas(butnotthelanguage)aboutLewisandClarkusedinthissectionaretakenfromUndaunted
Courage:MeriwetherLewis,ThomasJefferson,andtheOpeningoftheAmericanWestbyStephenE.
Ambrose,Simon&Schuster,1996.Wehighlyrecommendthisbook.

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