Sentence Writing – Step 4 (Compound and Complex Sentences)

 

Introduction

In Step 1 we looked at simple sentences with subject, verb, indirect object, and direct object.

In Step 2 we added adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases.

In Step 3 we added dependent relative clauses using relative pronouns.

In Step 4 we will use coordinating conjunctions to convert simple sentences (one independent clause) into compound sentences (two or more independent clauses).

Coordinating Conjunctions

To join two independent clauses, we must use one of seven possible coordinating conjunctions, easily remembered using the acronym FANBOYS:

  1. For (means “because”; forms a cause-and-effect relationship between two clauses)
  2. And (joins two equal clauses, either both positive or both negative)
  3. Nor (joins a negative clause to another negative clause)
  4. But (joins a negative qualifying clause to a positive clause or vice versa)(e.g., it presents a bad side to a good side)
  5. Or (joins equally acceptable clauses or choices)
  6. Yet (expresses an unexpected result)
  7. So (expresses an expected or natural result or consequence of the condition in the other clause)

Okay, let’s build some compound sentences to see how FANBOYS work!


FOR

  1. He’s my dad. I have to love him. => I have to love him, for he’s my dad. (for = because)
  2. Nobody can deny (refuse) him, for he’s a jolly good fellow. (for = because)

    Well-known congratulatory singing refrain:
    For he’s a jolly good fellow,
    For he’s a jolly good fellow,
    For he’s a jolly good fellow,
    Which nobody can deny.

  3. He cannot go back to his church, for he was excommunicated by the Pope himself.

Notes on “For”

  1. “For” means “because” when it is used as a coordinating conjunction. Therefore, it expresses a cause-and-effect relationship between its two clauses. The “For” clause is the cause. The other clause is the effect or result.
  2. “For” is almost always used in the second clause –rarely in the first clause. The singing refrain is the only exception I am aware of.
  3. As with all FANBOYS conjunctions, it is always preceded by a comma when it appears between two independent clauses. (readability)

AND

  1. I have been working all day. I am tired. => I have been working all day, and I am tired.
  2. Well, there’s confidential information, and then there’s confidential information. (1st confidential said w/rising tone, 2nd w/falling tone)
  3. You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine. (can refer to any two items; often used teasingly with a naughty insinuation)

Notes on “And”

  1. “And” joins two clauses of equal weight or importance. Typically the two clauses are either both positive or both negative, hence “equal”.
  2. There must be some kind of relationship between the two clauses in order to combine them together into one sentence. We would not use “and” to join two sentences that are totally unrelated to each other.
  3. “And” can join two parts of speech, two phrases, or two clauses. When joining two clauses, it is always preceded by a comma. This is true of all coordinating conjunctions.

NOR

  1. He is not my colleague. He is not my friend either. He is not my colleague, nor is he my friend.
  2. I don’t have the money to buy a ticket to go to Iceland, nor am I inclined to do so.
  3. I haven’t told anyone about my personal medical condition, nor am I going to tell you either.

Notes on “Nor”

  1. “Nor” is used to add an additional negative declaration to a sentence. This means (that) the first clause must be negative also.
  2. Note that subject-verb inversion is required in the “Nor” clause. (This is a case of a negative word at the beginning of a clause.)

BUT

  1. He is a very wealthy man, but that also means he has to pay a lot of taxes to the government.
  2. She loves to eat peanuts, but she has an allergy to them and must avoid them at all costs.
  3. He is a strong, muscular fellow, but he has to exercise constantly to maintain his physique in that condition.

Notes on “But”

  1. “But” is usually used when something good is presented but there is also a negative or detracting aspect that comes along with it. Conversely, something bad may be presented but there is also a good or positive aspect that comes along with it. Similar to “Every cloud has a silver lining” but it works both ways.
  2. In other words, this part of it is great but that part of it is not so great (has a problem).

OR

  1. I can drink tea. I can drink coffee. I can drink tea, or I can drink coffee.
    Whichever you have is fine with me.
  2. Would you like to go to a movie, or would you like to go to a concert?
  3. We are out of money, which presents us with two options: We can cancel the project, or we can try to get a loan so we can continue it.
    (“So” is a coordinating conjunction that adds a third independent clause to this sentence.)
  4. We are out of money, which presents us with two options: Either we cancel the project, or we try to get a loan so we can continue it.
    (With “Either”, omitting “can” seems to add a slight emphasis to the verbs. That’s my perception anyway.)

Notes on “Or”

  1. “Or” is used to present choices or equally acceptable conditions, options, actions, etc.
  2. “Or” can also be used with “Either”. When used with “Either”, the auxiliary/modal verbs (can) verbs are often omitted but can be retained. I’m not sure why.

YET

  1. He is wealthy. He eats in low-class restaurants. He is wealthy, yet he eats out in low-class restaurants.
  2. She seems to be very intelligent and level-headed, yet she always seems to pick losers as boyfriends.
  3. Richard Cory was a handsome, well-to-do gentlemen who was the envy of all the young women in the town, yet one night he went home and shot himself in the head.

Notes on “Yet”

  1. “Yet” is used to express an unexpected result based on what was said in the first clause.
  2. Do not confuse this usage with the adverb, as in “He hasn’t done it yet.” These are totally different applications of the word “Yet”.

SO

  1. He was tired. He went to bed. He was tired, so he went to bed.
  2. She is my mother, and I am only fifteen years old, so I still have to obey her. (“And” is also a coordinating conjunction, so there are three independent clauses here.)
  3. Donald Trump has been elected as the next president of the United States, so 2017 promises to be a roller-coaster ride.

Notes on “So”

  1. “So” introduces a clause that is an expected or natural result or consequence of the other clause.
  2. Do not confuse this usage with other uses of “so”. The test is to ask yourself if Note #1 is true. If it is, then that “So” is a coordinating conjunction.
  3. As you can see from Example #2, “So” is often used with two or more “condition” clauses that together may lead to the expected result.

Self-Assessment

Instructions: Insert the most appropriate coordinating conjunction in the blanks.

  1. Electricity is dangerous, _____ one should be careful when working with it with wet hands.
  2. Ravens and crows are both large black birds, ____ both have similar eating habits.
  3. People have viewed the moon thousands of times in their lifetime, ____ they probably can’t name a single feature on its surface.
  4. The moon is sometimes very bright in the sky, _____ one might think that it must produce its own light, _____ it doesn’t.
  5. I can call you, _____ you can call me.
  6. My ISP had to escalate my connection problem to a higher tier in their Help Desk, _____ the lower tier was unable to figure out what the problem was.
  7. I would go with you, _____ I have no money.
  8. He wouldn’t call us, _____ would he email us. He refused to contact us at all.
  9. Obama was an ineffective president, _____ Clinton just wants to continue his policies, _____ the disenchanted voters in America decided to elect a non-politician for a change.
  10. He wanted to go, _____ he had the money to go, _____ he had a schedule conflict, _____ he couldn’t go.
Answers - DO NOT PEEK until you try to answer these yourself!
  1. Electricity is dangerous, so one should be careful when working with it with wet hands.
  2. Ravens and crows are both large black birds, and both have similar eating habits.
  3. People have viewed the moon thousands of times in their lifetime, yet they probably can’t name a single feature on its surface.
  4. The moon is sometimes very bright in the sky, so one might think that it must produce its own light, but it doesn’t.
  5. I can call you, or you can call me.
  6. My ISP had to escalate my connection problem to a higher tier in their Help Desk, for the lower tier was unable to figure out what the problem was.
  7. I would go with you, but I have no money.
  8. He wouldn’t call us, nor would he email us. He refused to contact us at all.
  9. Obama was an ineffective president, yet Clinton just wants to continue his policies, so the disenchanted voters in America decided to elect a non-politician for a change.
  10. He wanted to go, and he had the money to go, but he had a schedule conflict, _____ he couldn’t go.

4 comments

    1. Electricity is dangerous, so one should be careful when working with it with wet hands.
    2. Ravens and crows are both large black birds, and both have similar eating habits.
    3. People have viewed the moon thousands of times in their lifetime, but they probably can’t name a single feature on its surface.
    4. The moon is sometimes very bright in the sky, so one might think that it must produce its own light, but it doesn’t.
    5. I can call you, or you can call me.
    6. My ISP had to escalate my connection problem to a higher tier in their Help Desk, for the lower tier was unable to figure out what the problem was.
    7. I would go with you, but I have no money.
    8. He wouldn’t call us, nor would he email us. He refused to contact us at all.
    9. Obama was an ineffective president, and Clinton just wants to continue his policies, so the disenchanted voters in America decided to elect a non-politician for a change.
    10. He wanted to go, and he had the money to go, but he had a schedule conflict, so he couldn’t go.
      1. I think you used ‘yet’ in those sentences because the later sentences are contradictory to the first sentence.

        In the case of Clinton, ‘yet’ is more appropriate than ‘and’ because she is supposed to change policies yet she doesn’t.

  1. Exactly.  That was my reasoning.  That doesn’t make your answers wrong.  Just letting you know about the subtle differences in their usage, and that’s why I chose “yet”.  Some Americans might use “yet” like me and some might use “but” and “and” like you.  😎

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