ESL students can improve the quality of writing by learning to write two kinds of sentences well: compound and complex sentences.
In this lesson, students learn to write with an exercise called sentence combining.
Before starting, there are two grammar phrases students need to know:
- coordinating conjunctions
- subordinate conjunctions
Coordinating conjunctions are used to write compound sentences.
A compound sentence is two simple sentences (two independent clauses) joined by a comma and a special joining word, often called a coordinating conjunction.
These conjunctions are small words that join two sentences without changing the sentences very much. These conjunctions go in between two sentences; they usually don’t go at the beginning or end of a sentence.
There are seven conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. This group of conjunctions is sometimes called FANBOYS. Each FANBOYS word has a different purpose.
|For tells us the reason.||They love music, for it is exhilarating.|
|And means in addition.||My father likes to drink coffee, and my mother enjoys reading the newspaper.|
|Nor is negative.||John doesn’t do his homework, nor does he want to study.|
|But and yet show contrast.||Sally is good at archery, but she prefers soccer.|
|Or gives another reason or choice.||I need to take a break, or I will go nuts.|
|So tells us the result.||My student’s family doesn’t have much money, so he dropped out of school.|
|Yet show us a contrast; similar to but.||He is very fat, yet he still eats cookies and cake everyday.|
Combine Sentences with FANBOYS
Here are some example.
The students went to school. They did not want to go to school.
The students went to school, but they did not want to.
She was thirsty after exercising. She drank a whole bottle of water.
She was thirsty after exercising, so she drank a whole bottle of water.
In both examples above, there is a comma before the FANBOYS word. A comma is used when there are two subjects and two verbs. When you have a sentence with just nouns or verbs you don’t need a comma.
I want milk and cookies.
She ran to the store and bought a loaf of bread.
Subordinate conjunctions words join two clauses to make a complex sentence. A complex sentence has an independent clause and a dependent clause.
They are similar to the coordinating conjunctions, but there are two differences.
- Subordinate conjunctions can go at the front of the sentence or in the middle.
- You have to change some words in one of the sentences.
There are lots of words which can be used to join sentences with subordination. Here are some of these words.
- after, although, as, as if, because, before, even if, even though
- for, if, if only, rather than, since, that, though, unless, until,
- when, where, whereas, wherever, whether, which, while
Here is an example of how two sentences can be combined with a subordination word.
The computer was making a loud noise. The computer was broken.
- The computer was making a loud noise because it was broken.
- Because the computer was broken, it was making a loud noise.
Download the Writing Worksheet
Click here to download the exercise sheet and suggested answers.
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