|LEO: Literacy Education Online|
Combining Sentences for Variety and Clarity
A paper containing sentences of one short pattern bores both the writer and the reader for two reasons:
If you read through a paper you've written and notice that you've written sentences in a single, short pattern, ask yourself the following questions. Your answers can help you revise the sentences to express your ideas more clearly and to add variety to your paper.Do adjacent sentences contain ideas of equal importance?
- Repetition of a single, simple sentence pattern draws attention to itself, not to the ideas in the paper.
- Simple, short sentences cannot show the reader the many relationships that exist among ideas of different importance.
- If so, use coordination.
- Join the sentences with a coordinating conjunction preceded by a comma. The seven coordinating conjunctions create different relationships between two ideas.
- and shows addition; it has the same meaning as in addition, along with
- The strike divided the town, and it strained labor-management relations.
- but shows contrast; it has the same meaning as however, except, on the other hand
- Negotiators resolved the strike, but the town remained divided.
- for shows logical consequence; it has the same meaning as because, the reason why
- Coping with environmental issues is a necessary part of industrial studies, for industries affect the environment.
- so shows logical consequence; it has the same meaning as as a result, therefore
- Industries affect the environment, so coping with environmental issues is a necessary part of industrial studies.
- nor shows addition of a negative point
- The environment cannot sustain constant resource depletion, nor can it recover quickly from wide-scale resource extraction.
- or shows choice
- Businesses can design their own programs for recording statistical data, or they can use purchased, pre-designed programs.
- yet shows contrast
- More secondary schools are implementing programs designed to increase teenagers' awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, yet alcohol-related traffic accidents continue to be one of the leading causes of death for people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-two.
- Join the sentences with a semicolon. A semicolon needs complete sentences on either side of it that have complete meaning and can stand by themselves. Use a semicolon when you want to keep two closely related ideas in one sentence.
|Original||Ethnobotanists study plants and plant products that contribute to human culture. They study past, present, and potential uses of such plants.|
|Revision ||Ethnobotanists study plants and plant products that contribute to human culture; they study past, present, and potential uses of such plants.|
- Join the sentences by using a semicolon with a transitional word and a comma. Some common transitional words are:
- however has the same meaning as but
- The actress's performance electrified the audience; however, lighting and sound problems diminished the play's overall impact.
- furthermore has the same meaning as in addition
- The project required extensive research; furthermore, budget cuts reduced the available funds.
- instead has the same meaning as rather
- Neither bold colors nor heavy lines made the painting striking; instead, the sheer size of the canvas drew attention.
- consequently has the same meaning as as a result
- The speech required preparation and an in-depth analysis of the situation; consequently, the student surveyed the population on the issue.
- nevertheless has the same meaning as however
- The recently established bio-social theory helps us see the evolution of human behavior with a new perspective; nevertheless, few scientists endorse it.
- Do adjacent sentences contain ideas of unequal importance?
- If so, you can join them by subordination, making one or more ideas in a sentence depend on the idea that is most important to you.
- Join a statement that expresses a complete thought and can stand on its own (an independent clause) with a statement that cannot stand on its own (a dependent clause) and that depends on the independent clause to complete its meaning.
- An Aside: Use the following punctuation rule when combining dependent and independent clauses. You can use a subordinator to make one clause dependent upon another.
If you place the dependent clause before the independent clause, use a comma.
Do not use a comma if you place the dependent clause after the independent clause.
Subordinators can be used to signal one of the following relationships between two ideas:
- when, until, after, as soon as, before, ever since, as, and while show a relation that indicates time
- because, since show a relation that indicates causality
- though, although, even though, and while express concession and contrast of ideas
- of, as if, provided that, unless, as though show condition
- where indicates place
- so that shows result
- whichever, whenever, wherever, whoever indicate general possibility
- more or less than shows comparison of ideas
|Original||The two countries reached an agreement on trade policies. They then were able to complete their peace treaty. |
|Revision||After the two countries reached an agreement on trade policies, they were able to complete their peace treaty.|
|Original||The statistics in the proposal were inaccurate. It was this that made the proposal fail.|
|Revision||The proposal failed because its statistics were inaccurate.|
|Original||Equipment failures and labor strikes delayed the submarine's completion. Naval engineers continued the project.|
|Revision||Although equipment failures and labor strikes delayed the submarine's completion, naval engineers continued the project.|
|Original||Video game manufacturers plan to impose a rating system to indicate violence. The ratings system will be ineffectual without an accompanying plan for reinforcement.|
|Revision||Unless video game manufacturers issue an accompanying plan for enforcement, their ratings system will be ineffectual.|
|Original||The author wanted people of all income levels to be able to read her book. To achieve this, she stipulated that the book be sold for under five dollars.|
|Revision||So that people of all income levels would be able to read her book, the author stipulated that the book be sold for under five dollars.|
|Original||The male hornbill builds a nest for his mate. He chooses a nest site that will protect her and her chicks from predators.|
|Revision||The male hornbill builds a nest for his mate where she and her chicks will be protected from predators. |
|Original ||The program's format allows individual users to make changes. This can be done each time users encounter problems in implementing the program.|
|Revision||The program's format allows individual users to make changes whenever they encounter problems implementing the program.|
|Original||The beginner's manual contains few technical terms. However, the advanced manual contains several.|
|Revision||The advanced manual contains more technical terms than the beginner's manual.|
- Use which, that, who, whom, where, and when to subordinate one set of facts to another set or to add information about a person, place, thing, or concept in your sentence.
- who, whom, whose, and that are used for one or more persons
- that and which are used for one or more things
- which is used to introduce an entire explanatory clause
- where and when are used for a place or time respectively
|Original||Peter Tchaikowsky, a Russian composer, lived from 1840 to 1893. He composed Peter and the Wolf.|
|Revision||Peter Tchaikowsky, a Russian composer who lived from 1840 to 1893, composed Peter and the Wolf.|
|Original||Peter and the Wolf is often performed for audiences of children. The composition uses different instruments to represent different characters.|
|Revision||Peter and the Wolf, which uses different instruments to represent different characters, is often performed for audiences of children.|
|Original||The judges scored the performances using a new set of standards. This different method of scoring resulted in unanticipated victories for several new competitors.|
|Revision||The judges scored the performance using a new set of standards, which resulted in unanticipated victories for several new competitors.|
|Original||A press conference is an ideal place to find out information. Many journalists meet, discuss, and question current political issues at a press conference.|
|Revised||A press conference, where many journalists meet, discuss, and question current issues, is an ideal place to find out information. |
For more information about recognizing and punctuating independent and dependent clauses, see Write Place handouts "Punctuation Pattern Sheet" and "Punctuating ICs and DCs ." For more information about transitional words, see "Transitions: Common Cues for the Reader."
© 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 The Write Place
The print handout was revised and then redesigned for the Web by Maggie Escalas for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, and may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.
Last update: 5 October 1999