English / Sentence Structure
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Autor: anton 02 November 2010
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Independent Clause (IC)
An independent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought. An independent clause is a sentence.
Example: Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz. (IC)
Dependent Clause (DC)
A dependent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought. A dependent clause cannot be a sentence. Often a dependent clause is marked by a dependent marker word.
Example: When Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz . . . (DC)
Dependent Marker Word (DM)
A dependent marker word is a word added to the beginning of an independent clause that makes it into a dependent clause.
Example: When Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz, it was very noisy. (DM)
Some common dependent markers are: after, although, as, as if, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order to, since, though, unless, until, whatever, when, whenever, whether, and while.
Connecting dependent and independent clauses
There are two types of words that can be used as connectors at the beginning of an independent clause: coordinating conjunctions and independent marker words.
1. Coordinating Conjunction (CC)
The seven coordinating conjunctions used as connecting words at the beginning of an independent clause are and, but, for, or, nor, so, and yet. When the second independent clause in a sentence begins with a coordinating conjunction, a comma is needed before the coordinating conjunction:
Example: Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz, but it was hard to concentrate because of the noise. (CC)
2. Independent Marker Word (IM)
An independent marker word is a connecting word used at the beginning of an independent clause. These words can always begin a sentence that can stand alone. When the second independent clause in a sentence has an independent marker word, a semicolon is needed before the independent marker word.
Example: Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz; however, it was hard to concentrate because of the noise. (IM)
Some common independent markers are: also, consequently, furthermore, however, moreover, nevertheless, and therefore.
Proper Punctuation Methods
This table gives some examples of ways to combine independent and dependent clauses and shows how to punctuate them properly.
IC. IC. I went to the store. I didn't buy any bread.
IC; IC. I went to the store; I didn't buy any bread.
IC, CC IC. I went to the store, but I didn't buy any bread.
IC; IM, IC. I went to the store; however, I didn't buy any bread.
DC, IC. When I went to the store, I didn't buy any bread.
IC DC. I didn't buy any bread when I went to the store.
Some Common Errors to Avoid
A comma splice is the use of a comma between two independent clauses. You can usually fix the error by changing the comma to a period and therefore making the two clauses into two separate sentences, by changing the comma to a semicolon, or by making one clause dependent by inserting a dependent marker word in front of it.
Incorrect: I like this class, it is very interesting.
Correct: I like this class. It is very interesting.
(or) I like this class; it is very interesting.
(or) I like this class, and it is very interesting.
(or) I like this class because it is very interesting.
(or) Because it is very interesting, I like this class.
Fused sentences happen when there are two independent clauses not separated by any form of punctuation. This error is also known as a run-on sentence. The error can sometimes be corrected by adding a period, semicolon, or colon to separate the two sentences.
Incorrect: My professor is intelligent I've learned a lot from her.
Correct: My professor is intelligent. I've learned a lot from her.
(or) My professor is intelligent; I've learned a lot from her.
(or) My professor is intelligent, and I've learned a lot from her.
(or) My professor is intelligent; moreover, I've learned a lot from her.
A coordinating conjunction connect words, phrases or clauses that are of equal importance or have the same grammatical structure within a sentence
â€¢ A coordinating conjunction may connect compound subjects.
o Economists and policy-makers argue about how to ensure fair competition and continued innovation in the high-technology sector.
o Oil or railways can offer insight into the differences between traditional companies and technology companies.
â€¢ A coordinating conjunction may connect compound objects
o The troubled company is not considering selling all nor part of its business.
 ALL and PART are objects of the verbal SELLING.
o Some analysts say the odds are stacked against Netscape and any other rival that dares to challenge Microsoft.
 NETSCAPE and RIVAL are objects of the preposition AGAINST.
â€¢ A coordinating conjunction may connect compound phrases
o Manufacturers must be free to develop their ideas and to package their products.
 AND connects two infinitive phrases.
o He reappeared a few minutes later looking embarrassed yet appearing otherwise unruffled.
 YET connects two participial phrases.
o The activists lodged frequent complaints against the barge industry and for its customers, including farmers
 AND connects two prepositional phrases.
â€¢ Independent Clauses
o Members of Congress are eager to bring home projects, and special interests are eager to reap the benefits.
o Congress has to decide whether it wants to continue to be part of the problem, or if it wants to be part of the solution.
o On balance, it has not been a liberal presidency, yet conservatives tend to underestimate the heat Clinton took within his own party on some of these issues.
o The prince has abandoned his kingdom for no army remains to do his fighting.
Six MOST COMMON coordinating conjunctions
For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet (FANBOY)
â€¢ Two LESS COMMON coordinating conjunctions
o While is a coordinating conjunction when its meaning is during the time that or throughout the time that.
 The owl paddled, while the monkey slept.
(The owl paddled during the time the monkey slept.)
o While is a subordinating conjunction when its meaning is although or on the one hand.
 While he was not poor, he had no ready cash.
(Although he was not poor, he had no ready cash.)
o To avoid problems, use while for time and although or whereas to show subordination.
 Will you buy a carton of milk while you are at the store?
 Although you may disagree with the conclusion, please keep your opinions to yourself.
o So is a coordinating conjunction when its meaning is during the time NOT as a result.
 The owl paddled, so the monkey slept.
o So is a subordinating conjunction when its meaning is in order that, with the purpose that. (It is usually followed by that)
 The owl paddled, so that the monkey might sleep.
o So is a conjunctive adverb when its meaning is therefore)
 The owl paddled; so, it made sense for the monkey to sleep.
Subordinating conjunctions introduce dependent (subordinate) clauses and join the dependent clause to the independent or main clause in a sentence. (A dependent clause has a subject and verb, but it depends on the independent clause for context and meaning.)
Common Subordinating Conjunctions:
After* Rather than
As if Than
As long as That
As though Though
Even if When
Even though Whenever
If only Wherever
In order that While
*These subordinating conjunctions can also act as prepositions, but as subordinating conjunctions they introduce a clause not a prepositional phrase.
Subordinate clauses modify the independent clause in some way or act as parts of speech in relation to the independent clause.
[In the following examples, the subordinating conjunction is bold and the subordinate clause is underlined.]
â€¢ Subordinate clause as an adverb clause.
o He was the first president to serve when the popular culture had merged with politics in a celebrity-obsessed culture.
 The subordinate clause answers the question when about the independent clause.
o The recession was over for a year and a half before Clinton took office.
 The subordinate clause answers the question when about the independent clause.
o Clinton was criticized for failing to push negotiating authority for trade agreements, because he didn't want to alienate organized labor.
 The subordinate clause tells why or the condition under which the independent occurred.
â€¢ Subordinate clause as a noun clause.
o Many prominent Democrats conceded that the catalog contained enough truth to mean the party had to change.
 The subordinate clause tells us what the Democrats concede. It is a direct object.
o James Carville said he considers it the low point of the Clinton presidency.
 The subordinate clause tells us what the James Carville said. The subordinating conjunction THAT between SAID and HE is implied.
â€¢ Subordinate clause as an adjective clause.
o The announcers claimed this was the product that we could all count on.
 The subordinate clause tells us what kind of product it is.
o This is the plan until the captain arrives with a better one.
 The subordinate clause describes the plan.
* NOTE: Usually no comma is needed before a subordinating conjunction if the dependent clause follows the independent clause.
To see the difference between subordinating conjunctions and prepositions, please go to the next page.
The Simple Sentence
The most basic type of sentence is the simple sentence, which contains only one clause. As noted in the sections on phrases and clauses, simple sentences can be as short as one word but rarely are.
All of the following are simple sentences, because each contains only one clause. They are the first four sentences of A Christmas Carol and it is interesting that Dickens begins the story in this way.
â€¢ Marley was dead: to begin with.
â€¢ There is no doubt whatever about that.
â€¢ The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner.
â€¢ Scrooge signed it.
As you can see, a simple sentence can be quite long -- it is a mistake to think that you can tell a simple sentence from a compound sentence or a complex sentence simply by its length.
â€¢ The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.
This is a simple sentence because, although it has a number of verbs, it has only one subject.
In writing, simple sentences can be very effective for grabbing a reader's attention or for summing up an argument, but too many simple sentences can make your writing seem immature.
The Compound Sentence
A compound sentence consists of two or more independent clauses (or simple sentences) joined by coordinating conjunctions like "and", "but", and "or."
â€¢ Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
â€¢ The wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile.
â€¢ My unhallowed hands shall not disturb it.
â€¢ The wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for.
â€¢ This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story.
â€¢ Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names.
A compound sentence is especially effective when use to create a sense of balance or contrast between two (or more) equally important pieces of information:
â€¢ He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas. (Note: a semi-colon takes the place of the conjunction and in this sentence.)
The Complex Sentence
A complex sentence contains one independent clause and at least one dependent (subordinate) clause.
â€¢ He couldn't replenish it.
â€¢ He couldn't replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room.
A complex sentence is very different from a simple sentence or a compound sentence because it makes clear which ideas are most important. When you write:
â€¢ He lived in chambers. They had once belonged to his deceased partner.
â€¢ He lived in chambers, and they had once belonged to his deceased partner.
The reader will have trouble knowing which piece of information is most important to you.
When you write:
â€¢ He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner,
You make it clear that the fact that the chambers had once belonged to his deceased partner is not as important as the fact that he lived in the chambers.
The Compound-Complex Sentence
A coordinating conjunction sometimes links two complex sentences, or one simple sentence and one complex sentence. In this case, the sentence is called a compound-complex sentence.
Compound: The clerk promised, and Scrooge walked out with a growl.
Complex: The clerk promised that he would.
Compound-complex: The clerk promised that he would, and Scrooge walked out with a growl.
Compound: This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story.
Complex: Nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.
Compound-complex: This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.
In the above sentences the dependent clauses are in bold and the second independent clause is in italics.
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