Sentence combining techniques 1

Once you have mastered the basics of correct usage in written English, you will want to express yourself in increasingly complex ways. You can combine independent clauses by using sentence connectors (coordination/grammatical term). This results in a compound sentence that can improve the formality and sophistication of your writing style. Coordination techniques for writing compound sentences are:

Use a comma + a coordinating conjunction

Coordinating conjunctions are used in compound sentences. Remember them as ‘A.B.Fonsy’—and, but, for (meaning because), or, nor, so, yet. Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction when you are writing a compound sentence.

Each coordinating conjunction is used to indicate a specific type of relationship.
The government offers students a number of options for paying their HECS fees, but students still become confused about the implications of their choices.

The coordinating conjunction determines the relationship between the first independent clause and the second independent clause.

These relationships are as follows:

Coordinating conjunction Relationship indicated
and to add an idea
but to contrast two opposing ideas
for to introduce a reason
or alternative, to show a choice
nor* to add an idea when the first clause is in the negative
so to introduce a result
yet to contrast two opposing ideas

 *Note: The use of ‘nor’ requires an inversion of the subject and the verb.

The Treasurer will not abolish the tax, nor will he reduce HECS charges.
A number of coordinating conjunctions are used in pairs.
Either students work and pay their HECS fees up-front during their studies, or they pay them off during their working lives.

The coordinating conjunction works with other words such as

Coordinating conjunction / pair Indicating
either … or alternative, to show a choice
neither … nor* to add an idea when the first clause is in the negative
not only … but also to add an idea

 *Note: The use of ‘neither … nor’ requires an inversion of the subject and the verb.

Neither of the students chose to work during their university studies, nor did they have the financial backing to pay their HECS fees.

Note: ‘Not only … but also’ should be used sparingly. Use it when you want to add emphasis.

Not only were students affected by the imposition of university fees, but also the parents of those students were financially involved.

 

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Use a semicolon + a conjunctive adverb + a comma

Conjunctive adverbs are also used in compound sentences. These conjunctions have a similar meaning to ‘A.B.Fonsy’ conjunctions, but can sound more formal and give greater emphasis to your reasoning or argument. Use a semi-colon (;) before and a comma (,) after a conjunctive adverb when you are writing a compound sentence.

Using conjunctive adverbs in compound sentences Meaning
furthermore, besides, moreover, also, in addition to add an idea
however, nevertheless, still, nonetheless, conversely, otherwise, instead, in contrast, on the other hand to contrast two opposing ideas
otherwise, instead, on the other hand alternative, to show a choice
consequently, therefore, thus, accordingly, hence, as a result, for this reason to introduce a result
likewise, similarly, in the same way to show likeness, compare
indeed, in fact, for example, in particular to give emphasis, explain, restate, to give an example
meanwhile, subsequently, then, afterwards, earlier, later to show time order

The following are all compound sentences:

The immediate effects of HECS fees on students are well documented; however, long-term effects have yet to be considered.

Many argued that higher education gives life and career opportunities to a select group in society; therefore, HECS fees were justified.

Paying HECS fees upfront means that students begin work without a HECS debt; moreover, upfront payments attract a 20 percent discount.

Most Australian students who study at university are Commonwealth supported students; consequently, they have some of the cost of their education paid by the government.

Many argue for the right to free education; otherwise, they consider that higher education fees should at least be means tested.

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Use a semicolon

A semicolon can be used to combine independent clauses to make a compound sentence. However, this technique may only be used if both clauses have similar grammatical structure or have closely related ideas.

Yes, you can use a semicolon to join these sentences:

The students objected to paying university fees; they felt that it inhibited their future economical prospects.

 

No, you cannot use a semicolon to join these sentences:

INCORRECT: The students objected to paying university fees; it was thought that the government was concerned with revenue raising when it implemented these policies.

CORRECT: The students objected to paying university fees. It was thought that the government was concerned with revenue raising when it implemented these policies.

CORRECT: The students objected to paying university fees ; in fact, it was thought that the government was concerned with revenue raising when it implemented these policies.

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