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

web writing dark front (2)

For more tips, check out these videos.

Compound sentences

Complex sentences

 

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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

 

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.

darts-155726_640

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