Improve Your Writing with Compound and Complex Sentences

Improve Your Writing with Compound and Complex Sentences

What are they?

I talked about simple sentences in the last blog entry.  Today, I am covering both the compound and complex sentences.

(Both video links are listed below.)

All of these are simply different kinds of sentences based on structure.

Compound sentences are basically two (or more) simple sentences combined in some manner. In other words, a compound sentence has two or more independent clauses. Of course, there are certain rules and conventions that dictate how they can be combined.

Some of the most common and useful methods are to use coordinating conjunctions.

Remember that there are seven of these:  for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. (Use FANBOYS as a mnemonic to remember them.)  Notice the comma before the coordinating conjunction when joining to independent clauses.

Examples:monster-426994_640

The creature was quiet, but it smelled like pizza, so everyone knew where it was.

Julia loves to cook, but she loves eating even more!

Often conjunctive adverbs or transitional expressions can be used to join independent clauses to make compound sentences. There are lots of conjunctive adverbs and transitional expressions, but here are a few very useful ones to get you started:  however, therefore, moreover, then, otherwise, furthermore, specifically, instead, as a matter of fact, for example, on the other hand, for instance, as a result, at any rate, at the same time.  Notice the semicolon before and the comma after the conjunctive adverb or transitional expression when joining two independent clauses.

Examples:chicago-1404489_640

Everyone enjoyed the parade; however, the weather was not pleasant.

One should eat a healthy diet; on the other hand, it is not a sin to have a treat now and again.

Complex sentences contain one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.

Reminder:     Independent clause = can stand alone

Dependent clause = cannot stand alone (requires more                                                              information or needs to be attached                                                              to an independent clause).

Examples:elephant-311102_640

After the party ended, everyone went home to bed.

The purple elephant loves to dance at night when nobody is watching.

Now you have three of the four kinds of sentences by structure: simple, compound, and complex.

Use each one in your writing to provide variety and a nice flow.  It is always easier to read text that is not stilted or boring.  Mixing it up can solve this problem.

Your writing will be easier to comprehend as well if there is some variety.  There are several ways to achieve this including using longer and shorter sentences, using varied vocabulary, and providing different kinds of sentences by structure.

Also, you will have more fun writing when you incorporate new skills and techniques.

As always, I encourage you to take a few lessons or a writing course.

I would love to be your reading / writing coach!

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

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For more tips, check out these videos.

Compound sentences

Complex sentences

 

The Simple Sentence

The Simple Sentence

What is it?

Technically, it is a complete sentence that has only one independent clause.

In other words, it has only one subject-verb combination.

It makes only one statement.

Note: The term “simple” doesn’t mean “easy.”  It is the technical term for having a sentence with one independent clause.

Note:  An independent clause contains at least one subject and one verb (predicate) and can stand (be understood) on its own.

Not always as simple as it seems!funny-2029437_640

The simple sentence should not be disrespected.  It is the clearest and most direct way to convey your thought.

There is a lot to be said for clarity.  In fact, many writers and students would benefit from making their writing more concise and more to the point.

A simple sentence can contain more than one subject and/or more than one verb.  In other words, it can have compound subjects and verbs.

A simple sentence can also have many modifiers.

So you see, “simple sentence” doesn’t have to mean boring or without variety.

(Having said this, you should still use a mixture of simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences in your writing.)

Basic simple sentences

Butterflies fly. (subject – butterflies  & verb – fly)

Damien cried.  (subject – Damien & verb – cried)

Simple sentences with a compound subject

Kyla and Carmen drove to the city.

The boys and girls sang a song.

Simple sentences with a compound predicate

Elias washed and polished the floor.

The ponies ran and jumped the fence.

Simple sentences with a compound subject and compound predicate

Ron and Gay live and work in Guelph.

The car and the truck raced and crashed.

Simple sentences with modifiersfile000532975511

Beyond the darkness, we could see a spotlight, shining like a beacon.

After the torrential rainstorm, the streets and pathways were flooded with water and detritus.

The changes in policy caused many clients to avoid or reduce purchasing from the shop.

Simple but awesome!

You can see that simple sentences don’t need to be too tedious. There are many modifiers, subjects, and verbs that you can add to create more interesting sentences even while still using the one basic structure.

When writing, try to use many sentence structures because this adds interest and makes the text easier to read.  It is never pleasant to read a longer piece of writing in which all sentences are simple or all sentences are compound-complex.  Using the same structure over and over and over and over and over and over – Okay, you get my point!

Experiment with writing simple sentences of your own or including them within your other writing tasks.

Some good, crisp simple sentences can add a lot of impact to your writing.  Don’t ignore simple sentences.  They are just as useful as all the other structures.  They should be an important part of your writing toolbox.

Do you want to improve?

For courses and lessons to improve your writing check out the website.

Reading, Writing, Math, and Online courses.

There are online courses that you can do on your own, or I can create a personalized set of lessons for you.  In this way, we can address any difficulties you are having directly.

Having your own personal coach can make a world of difference in your progress. reading-button

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

For more tips, check out this week’s video.  Simple Sentences

 

Stop Summer Learning Loss in Its Tracks!

stop sign

Stop Summer Learning Loss 

but

Don’t Stop Learning!

Studies vary concerning learning loss over the long summer holiday; however, they all do show substantial losses for those students who are struggling in the first place. Even straight “A” students tend to show some loss if not engaged over the months away from learning.

How to avoid summer learning loss

       Read  !                                  reading-button

This cannot be overstated
Reading is so important.  The choice of reading material is less a factor than the act and the follow-up.
Don’t read “blindly” – engage yourself with the material by talking about what you’ve read with others, look to learn more about the topic, write about what you’ve read, comment or blog about it.  Use any method you like to make sure that you aren’t forgetting as fast as you are reading.
Also, remember the library – often free reading material of all kinds there!

       Write !                                     web writing dark front (2)

Write a journal.
Write about what you have been reading (see above).
Start a blog about your favourite topic.
Write letters (astonish your friends and the world!).
Write some poems.

Parents

Ask for opinions and comments on T.V. shows or Internet/video games, etc.

NOTE:       Be sure to ask open questions not closed questions.
An open question invites more conversation, whereas a closed question generally elicits only a  “yes” or “no” response.

Example:

Open question –   “What did you like about the main character ?”
Closed question – “Did you like the main character?”

Don’t be too quick to judge opinions (despite the lack of logic or maturity). It is just important to keep paying attention and engaging with material.  A great deal of learning comes from talking it out and hearing one’s own ideas aloud.  Self-correction tends to happen in stages.

Of course, you can discuss any reading material and current events. It is always a great idea to get young people thinking about the world around them and how they are interconnected with everything that is going on.

In the park, talk about the animals, birds, trees.  There are lots of great guidebooks and, of course, the ubiquitous internet to help you learn about these things yourself!  The best kind of learning is “learning together.”  I always tell my students that I am learning every moment I’m with them. And it’s true!  If your mind is open to learning – the opportunities are constant.

Visit local sites (many are free).

Find out more about your local history or community.  The library is a great place to start but also information groups, historical organizations, and museums often have loads of interesting bits of information.

It is amazing what a positive effect having a solid adult role model can be for a child.  He or she will learn but also be able to use that knowledge more effectively.  Memorizing facts is relatively useless (unless you’re going on Jeopardy!) without context and connection.

Tutoring                         board-2353410_640

Of course – a little tutoring each week can work to retain past lessons and help to prepare for the next year!

Reading, writing, math, and study skills practice during the summer prepares one for the September rush of information and  new skills.

A private tutor who creates an individualized program and delivers lessons suited to the student can make all the difference.

Come see what a professional tutor and personalized program can do for you or your child.  In-person or online tutoring (or a combination).
www.tutoringcentral.com

e-mail:  tutoringcentral@inbox.com

Phone:  519 824 0982

I have been a tutor and educational coach for over twenty Ron033years.  I look forward to working with you and/or your child.

Ron Johnson

Video:  Summer Learning Loss

Avoiding Padded Language!

Avoid

Whenever you write, particularly for academic purposes, you should try to avoid using padded language.

 

What is it?

Padded language is any writing that includes unnecessary words, phrases, and even clauses that add nothing to the meaning or goal of your article.

The beast goes by different names such as inflated expressions, empty words & phrases, and wordiness.

I would include unnecessary repetition and redundancies.

Get to the point!high-quality-2054869_640

I am sure most of you have heard this exclamation.  It is often good advice.  Even in fiction writing, sometimes the author spends far too much time adding words that don’t lend anything but length to a story or book.  A good editor will do some chopping to make the text more concise.

You can be your own editor while writing your good draft.

(Don’t worry during your brainstorming or rough draft writing because you want to keep moving and get the “flow” of writing down on paper or on the screen.)

Seek out and eliminate or adjust any words or phrases that don’t give your sentences impact and meaning.

If you are writing fiction, of course you want to have descriptive words and expressions that add character and interest to your writing.  Just make sure that they actually DO provide something of value and are not simply adding to the “word count.”

Word Count!

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Many students are consumed with trying to reach the specified word count, so they add empty (and often long) phrases or repetition to help them get there faster.  Focus on your message instead.  Write quality sentences and develop your ideas with examples, anecdotes, supporting evidence, etc.  Forget about the word count until the end.  If you are focusing on quality and developing your points sufficiently, the word count will follow.

Simply having the right number of words means nothing if the writing is weak.

Still Unsure?

Here are a few examples to show you what I’m talking about. There are hundreds, so be vigilant in your good drafts.

Some empty phrases can be cut entirely:

In my opinion, the best way to improve your writing is to write!

The best way to improve your writing it so write!

There is no need for “In my opinion.” The statement is much stronger without it.  If I am writing the essay, paragraph or article, then the points are mine (unless otherwise stated).

Note:  Red means eliminate or reduce.   Green means Yes!

Here are some other empty phrases:

     As far as I’m concerned

            For the most part

            Last but not least

            More or less

Sometimes one word would suffice:

At the present time = now

            For the purpose of = for

            Until such time as = until

            For the reason that = because

            Due to the fact that = because

            In the final analysis = finally

Redundancies:

Actual fact

            Collect together

            Exact replica

            Join up

            Repeat again

            Small in size

            Unexpected surprise

            Very unique

The citizens cooperated together to bring about change.

The citizens cooperated to bring about change.

Unnecessary repetition:

Many unemployed people without a job need government support and help from the government.

Many unemployed people need government support.

Don’t get me wrong!

typewriter-584696_640

I don’t want to take away your artistic talent or your skill at being descriptive.  There are times when a bit of repetition can be helpful.  There are sentences that benefit from a redundancy for emphasis.  In general, however, once you start editing for all of this padded language, you will find that your writing is tighter and more powerful.

When writing essays or other academic work, be especially careful that you proofread and edit your work, eliminating unnecessary words and phrases.

Above all – enjoy writing!

Continue to practice and have fun with the writing process.

For more tips, check out this week’s video – there is a link there for prizes and discounts!

Video – Avoid the Padded Language Monster!

For courses and lessons to improve your writing check out the website.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

web writing dark front (2)

Ronald J. Johnson

Director – L.T.L. Tutoring Central

Sentence Fragment Monsters Coming to Destroy Your Writing!

Don’t let sentence fragments detract from your amazing message!

Avoid                                             stop sign

When writing, try to avoid using sentence fragments.

Now, they are fine for your brainstorming but you don’t want them in your final draft.

Avoiding sentence fragments in your rough draft is also a good idea because you will become accustomed to writing in full sentences and have fewer edits to make on your final copy.

emily-morter-188019

What are they?

What exactly is a sentence fragment?

Basically, a sentence fragment is part of a sentence, but only part, masquerading as a real sentence!

You are missing some essential element.  The following three examples all look like sentences, but they aren’t.  They are all sentence fragments.

  1. You might have a subject but not predicate:

My aged mother from the senior citizen’s green acres retirement centre.

  1. You might have a predicate but no subject:

Invented a new solution to the problem of inner city traffic and pedestrian interaction.

  1. You might have a subordinating word that makes the clause dependent:

After the colourful turtles crossed the road in the morning.

To have a complete sentence, you need at least one independent clause.

When the massive blue bus careened around the rocky curve at the top of Bluebird Hill.

This certainly seems to be a sentence.  It has a capital and a period for end punctuation. It has a series of words that make sense talking about one main idea; however, the thought is not complete.  What happened when the bus careened around the curve?  We don’t know.  The writer forgot to include this information in the main sentence.

You will notice that simply removing the word “When” creates a full sentence.  However, with the subordinating word “When,” the group of words is dependent, and you will need to add something to complete the thought.

When the massive blue bus careened around the rocky curve at the top of Bluebird Hill, we all thought we were doomed.

Help is on the way!

One easy (although not entirely accurate) way to tell whether a sentence is complete or a fragment is to imagine someone saying it to you.  Does it make sense?

After the party at Exhibition Park.

Drawing a line through the sand.

Screamed at the top of his lungs.

When you say these aloud to yourself – you have unanswered questions such as “What happened after the party?” and “Who screamed?”

At times this can be confusing.  For example: I can’t read it.

You might say this is a fragment because we don’t know what “it” is; however, we do have a subject “I” and a predicate “can’t read it,” and we don’t have any subordinating words.  So, although we don’t know everything at this point, the sentence itself is complete. Presumably this would be part of a series of sentences rather than a stand-alone sentence.

Technically

  1. Check to see that you have at least one subject and one predicate.
  2. Check that you have at least one independent clause.

Exceptions

Most of these points about sentence fragments apply to formal, academic writing.  There are times when a sentence fragment is helpful – particularly in fiction writing. Writing fiction or poetry breaks many of the formal rules in order to create a more realistic scene or dialogue.  We generally don’t speak or have a conversation with someone using full sentences and formal grammar at all times. Also, when giving an order or command, the subject is “implied” rather than stated.  (My two points under “Technically” are examples.)

Close the window.    (The subject is implied.  Often assumed to be “you.”)

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One more point

Don’t worry.  Keep writing.  The important thing is to keep practising and writing what you love to write about.

Getting feedback and direction can be essential if you need to, or want to, improve your technique, style, and final product.

Here is one place to start:

Paragraph Writing Lessons

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

Video: Sentence Fragments

Ron

 

Don’t Miss Out on the Awesome Benefits of Online Tutoring!

Is online tutoring right for me?

Is online tutoring right for my child?

Can online tutoring be anywhere near as good as an in-person tutor?

There are many questions when it comes to tutoring online.  Today, I am going to point out some the many advantages there are to online tutoring.  You might think of more. Please feel free to add on in the comments section.

The most important – and most obvious – is the learning.  You can retain lessons learned over the year, practise current assignments, and learn something new to prepare for the future.

Don’t you agree that this is already looking awesome!  

Online tutoring can often accelerate learning.  There are so many resources at the tip of your fingers with videos, texts, and live discussions to name a few.

The learning process can be so much more dynamic.

There is no travelling back and forth to the tutor, saving you time, avoiding traffic jams, and allowing the instructor and learner to be from different provinces, states, or even countries.

Geography is no longer an issue.

andrew-neel-117763  Andrew Neel

You can learn in the comfort of your own home – or at a café, at the beach, at grandma’s house – wherever there is an internet connection, you can learn.  (Actually some of the tasks don’t even require the connection for some assignments, particularly asynchronous exercises.)

Comfort and access to all your own amenities.

You can take asynchronous lessons which are primarily done offline or at least without a lot of intervention from the instructor.

You can take synchronous lessons which are real-time interactions with the instructor.

I like to do a combination in a kind of “flipped” classroom style in which the student takes care of his/her business independently (after some instruction / direction of course) and then we can spend time on the essential business of assessment and focused instruction to make those all-important improvements.

Learn independently; learn together; learn in combination!

You still have the opportunity to meet your instructor and to discuss assignments, math problems, etc. by using platforms such as Zoom and Skype.  These are FREE to use for both instructor and student.  Bonus!

Sometimes, you can even meet other students from all over the world.  You can collaborate or simply provide suggestions.  When one student has a question or problem that he or she can’t solve, you can be sure that many others have the same issue.  You can help them, and they can help you.

Using a whiteboard such as BitPaper (in my case replacing Ron’s famous scrap paper), you can work together on problems, draw diagrams, pictures, and so on.

You can upload and download files; so, even though you might be doing a lot of work online, you still have the option to print and work on paper.  In fact, I encourage students to use paper for brainstorming when preparing to write and for scribbling out math problems and rough work in all arenas.  Although you can do this on the computer, research has shown that the good “old-fashioned” writing things out on paper can be even more beneficial in wiring the brain effectively.

No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater! (Please don’t do this.)

Online tutoring can be treated as an “add-on” to in-person tutoring or as a replacement.  Again, there is no reason why the old and the new cannot work together and be friends.

LTLTutoring_eighth_gueAUG16-01

If you are ready to get started, so am I.  Click on the website link below or e-mail for further information or to set up a free information meeting.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

Online Lessons

E-mail:  tutoringcentral@hotmail.com

Video: The Awesome Benefits of Online Tutoring

Writing in English

Keep it simple

When you write, particularly when you are writing a finished product such as an essay, book report, or speech, etc., use the structures you know.

Remember the old adage, “Write about what you know.”  Well, this works with technical aspects as well.

There is no need to artificially complicate your sentences just to seem more academic or “more intelligent.”

To be honest, when writers do this, they tend to reduce the quality of their writing rather than enhance it.

I have seen students who spend a great deal of time trying to “perfect” very weak arguments or assertions with complicated language and massive (and unreadable) sentences.  This method does not work!  But don’t worry, as you learn a wider variety of sentence structures and paragraph structures, you will be able to effectively incorporate them into your finished products.

In the meantime, write well with the tools you have.

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Focus on the goal

Keep your mind on your goal.

What do you want the reader to gain from your article?

If it is an essay, you are arguing for a certain point of view or supporting your opinion.

If you are writing a speech, you might be informing the reader or trying to persuade him/her to take a certain action.

(Often written work can have more than one purpose, but there is generally a dominant one.)

If you need to write an essay or report for a grade – again, keeping your mind on the goal is important.  Don’t worry about the grade.  If your writing is well done and you have conveyed the message you intended, then the grade will follow.

Remember that the goal is the whole point of your writing!  Don’t let it slip through the cracks.  Your message is far more important than fancy language and complexity.

evan-dennis-75563

But how do you improve?

You might be asking this question, “How do I improve if I don’t try to write in a more complicated manner?”

There are multiple answers, but let’s start with the improvement bit.

With each new article, you can “stretch” yourself.  While working on rough copies or drafts, you can experiment with longer sentences or new structures.  Always read your work aloud to “hear” if it sounds right. You can also ask yourself this question: “If someone walked up to me and said this, would I know what he/she was talking about?”  (If the answer is “no,” then you still have some work to do.)

Of course, reading to someone or having someone else read your efforts can be helpful. If the person has no idea what your sentence means, then it is generally the wrong way to write that sentence.

(I have read many students’ articles for courses or information that I have never studied myself.  Of course, I might not understand very technical details of an obscure course; however, the sentences and language should still be understandable.  Basically, anyone should be able to read your paper and gain some insight from it.)

Another great idea is to record yourself and then listen to your article with your eyes closed.  Does everything make sense to you?  Do the sentences move smoothly from one idea to the next?  Is there a satisfying conclusion that leaves you feeling that your main point has been adequately explored?

Your journal writing is another awesome place to experiment.  It isn’t so important if your sentences fall apart or if they lack the finesse of a finished product if the writing is just for yourself.

Reading back over old journal entries you can see how much you’ve improved but also how much you might still need to improve.  I know people who have read their old writing and have no idea what a particular sentence means!

Of course, you can take courses that specifically address writing skills.

Ron033    Ron – well, a slightly younger version!  🙂

You could hire a tutor to give you some specific direction and help along the way. A good tutor will assess your current abilities and then provide you with a program that will bring you the results you desire.

Here is a great place to start:  Paragraph Writing Lessons

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

Video: Writing – Keep it simple!

 

Ronald J. Johnson

Director – L.T.L. Tutoring Central