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Sentence Combining: Coordination and Subordination
by Jennifer

Sentence variety is one important aspect of writing, and is one of the four areas assessed on the essay test at the end of the semester. Two ways you can successfully combine short sentences is by subordination or coordination. Correctly done, your ideas will flow smoothly.

An independent clause is a group of words that can stand alone as a sentence. Join two of these together with a comma and one of the following coordinating conjunctions:

for - gives a reason, e.g., I like going to school, for the classes are not too difficult.

and - adds a fact or condition, e.g., I like going to school, and I like many of the teachers.

nor - means not. Remember to invert the word order following this conjunction, e.g., I am not going out, nor am I going to lie down to rest.

but - shows a contrast, e.g., I want to go out and have fun, but I don't want to be out too late.

or - gives a choice of alternatives, e.g., We could go to a movie, or we could go for a walk.

yet - like "but", this word also shows a contrast, e.g. I want to go out with my friends, yet I noticed there's a really good movie on TV tonight.

so - gives a result, similar in use to "therefore", e.g., It's raining out, so I will take an umbrella.

The above coordinating conjunctions make an acronym: fanboys. An acronym is a word made up of the first letters of others words. "Fanboys" is an easy way to remember these seven coordinating conjunctions.

Subordinating conjunctions also join ideas together. But where fanboys joins two equal clauses together, subordinating conjunctions impose a different relationship, making one clause dependent on the other. There are many different subordinating conjunctions. Some of the most common are as follows:

if, even if, provided that - gives a condition, e.g., I will go with you if you need some help.

although, even though, though - gives contrast, e.g., Although you need help, I am too busy tomorrow morning to go with you.

because, since - show cause, e.g., I will cancel my appointment tomorrow morning and go with you since you really need some help.

after, before, when, whenever, while - give a time, e.g. I am going shopping after I leave you downtown tomorrow.

where, wherever - show place, e.g., We can go whenever you'd like to. in order that, so that - show purpose, e.g., I am going to class so that I can ask the teacher what will be on the test.


Using coordinating and subordinating conjunctions, rewrite the following paragraphs for better sentence variety, and show them to a teacher.

Paragraph 1

I am going to the gym. I need to take the bus. My car has broken down. I am going to put my runners, shorts, swimsuit, a towel and a top into my bag. I will jog to the bus stop. It will be part of the my workout. I will get to the gym by 11 am. I will do the bike for 15 minutes. I will lift weights for 30 minutes. I'll stretch for 10 minutes. I will go into the pool. I will go into the hot tub. I will go into the sauna several times. I will get changed. I will go home.

Paragraph 2

I went shopping yesterday. I was having friends for dinner. I needed a big roast of beef, two chickens, and twelve dinner rolls. I also bought two heads of romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, green pepper, celery, radishes, an orange and fresh garlic. I added baking potatoes, fresh baby carrots, snow peas, corn niblets, and cauliflower. I stopped by the florist. I picked up two bunches of deep red roses, baby's breath, and some salal. I went to the bakery for a blueberry-chocolate cheese cake. I drove to my friend's to pick up a pair of beautiful pink-and-white beeswax candles. I was pleased with my purchases. I went home to cook and decorate for that evening's dinner.

For more information view our previous features on this topic:

Weekly Feature on Subordination

Weekly Feature on Coordination

Putting it Together: Coordination and Conjunctions (worksheet)

Coordination and Subordination (worksheet)

Paragraph using Coordination and Subordination


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