The Joining of Sentences


Simple Sentence: A complete sentence that expresses a single thought.


Independent Clause: A simple sentence which is combined with another simple sentence or a dependent clause to form either a compound or complex sentence.


Dependent Clause: A group of words that adds information to or modifies an independent clause. It is not a complete sentence and can not stand by itself as a sentence.


Compound Sentence: A sentence formed by the joining of two independent clauses using a coordinating conjunction, a semicolon, or a conjunctive adverb (options 1,2, and 3 below).


Complex sentence: A sentence composed of an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses joined by subordinating conjunctions (option 4 below).


Compound-Complex Sentences: A sentence containing two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. The methods of joining these clauses may include any of the options below.


Joining Sentences –The Options

Option 1 — The Coordinating Conjunction.

The most common way to join two simple sentences (independent clauses) is with a coordinating conjunction (i.e., and, or, but, nor, for, yet, so). To join sentences this way, place a comma after the first independent clause, write the coordinating conjunction, and add the second independent clause.


I went to Germany, but Bill went to Japan.


I went to Germany (independent clause),(comma) but (conjunction)Bill went to Japan (independent clause).


Option 2 — The Semicolon.


To join two closely related simple sentences (independent clauses), you may use a semicolon without a conjunction.


I went to Germany (independent clause);(semicolon) Bill went with me(independent clause).


Option 3 — The Semicolon and a Conjunctive Adverb


The third way to combine two simple sentences (independent clauses) is to use a semicolon and a conjunctive adverb (i.e., however, therefore, indeed, moreover, consequently, etc.). Conjunctive adverbs carry the thought of the first independent clause to the next one.


To join sentences using this method, write the first independent clause, add a semicolon, write the conjunctive adverb, place a comma after the conjunctive adverb, and write the second independent clause.


I wanted to become an artist (independent clause);(semicolon)therefore (conjunctive adverb),(comma) I went to Paris (independent clause).


Option 4 — Subordinate Conjunction


The final method of joining two simple sentences is the use of subordinating conjunctions (i.e., after, although, as, as if, before, because, if, since, unless, when, whenever, until, while). Example “a” below shows the more common subordinating conjunctions. When using this method one sentence remains an independent clause and the other becomes a dependent clause. The most important idea is the independent clause.


As the example below show, you can move the dependent clause to several positions within the sentence. This flexibility adds variety to your writing. Be sure you use the necessary punctuation, however.


I went to the movie although Bill went bowling.


I went to the movie (independent clause) although (subordinating conjunction) Bill went bowling (dependent clause).

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