Compound Sentences


Independent clauses are basically complete sentences. They are simple sentences. Now, we call them independent clauses, it’s just kind of another name for that structure. We’re just going to focus on independent clauses, which are those complete sentences.

So, here are a couple of examples: “I am often busy and tired. I struggle to meet my deadlines.”

They have a subject, a predicate, meaning a verb, and extra information, and a period at the end. They are complete ideas.

If we decide that it’s appropriate to combine independent clauses, there are a few ways to do it. The first one is to use a semicolon. So in this case, “I’m often very busy and tired; I struggle to meet my deadlines.” Rather than separating them into two separate sentences, I could use a semicolon to show that the ideas are connected into a compound sentence. Notice that I do not add any other words, no “and” or other words to the sentence. It’s not needed. A semicolon is a strong connector, so it doesn’t really need any other words or extra information to connect the ideas.

Notice here that I have an incorrect example of the semicolon. This sentence has an “and,” the one on the bottom, do not need the “and.” And also, just remember, a semicolon should really only be used to connect two sentences or two ideas that are very closely related. It would be inappropriate to use a semicolon to connect two independent clauses that are kind of unrelated where the meaning is unrelated.

Another option is to use a comma and a coordinating conjunction. So, coordinating conjunction, that might be a new phrase to some people. I’ll explain those as well. So, here’s my example again: “I’m often very busy and tired. I struggle to meet my deadlines.” Here’s an example where I used a comma and a coordinating conjunction. So, coordinating conjunctions are words like and, so, but, or. Those words work along with a comma to connect two independent clauses. So notice that the comma comes first after the first independent clause, and then we have the coordinating conjunction, in this case, “and,” and then the second independent clause.

Notice in the incorrect example that only a comma here is problematic. The comma’s not really, I guess, strong enough in this case to hold the two sentences together. This actually creates what we call a run-on sentence or a comma splice, meaning that there are two independent clauses connected by a comma but the comma is not strong enough on its own, it needs to work along with one of those coordinating conjunctions.

So here’s kind of the basic formula that you can use when combining compound sentences. On the formula, there are independent clauses on either side, and then the ways that you could connect them are by using a period, so, that would not be connecting them, but they would stand next to each other and they would be grammatically correct. You could use a semicolon. Or, you could use a comma and a coordinating conjunction, of course, choosing the coordinating conjunction that’s appropriate to show the relationship between the two ideas.

And I have all seven of the coordinating conjunctions listed here. If you read down, the first letter of each word, it spells out “FAN BOYS,” and that was kind of a little trick that I use to remember them when I learned about them, so if you ever kind of forget, what are those seven words that can function as coordinating conjunctions, think about the acronym “FAN BOYS,” and that might help you remember what they all are.

[Source: Walden University. ]


See also:

Types of Sentences
Simple Sentences
Complex Sentences
Combining Sentences
Common errors in structuring sentences

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