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1 Illinois Valley Community College Writing Center Writing Grammatical Sentences Workshop This packets contains handouts on the following topics: Types of sentences (p. 2) Fixing sentence fragments (p. 3) Fixing run-on sentences (p. 4) Comma use (p. 4) Combining sentences (p. 5) To learn more about any of these topics, visit the Writing Center in D-201, call , or visit our webpage to make an appointment ( The Writing Center also recommends A Pocket Style Manual, 7 th edition, by Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers. This affordable reference offers clear explanations of grammatical concepts and online practice activities. 1

2 TYPES OF SENTENCES Simple Sentence The simple sentence has a single subject-verb pair. In other words, it has only one independent clause and no dependent clause. Example 1 below is obviously a simple sentence. Example 2 s single verb gives it away. But what about example 3? Isn t it too long to be a simple sentence? 1. Jesus wept. 2. Johnny threw the ball across the street. 3. In the early morning, just before the breaking of the dawn, two lonely wanderers stretched their weary limbs and peered out of their makeshift tent. I italicized the third example s subject-verb pair so you can see that it really is just a simple sentence. The groups of words that come before the main part of the sentence are prepositional phrases, neither of them having a subject or a verb. Also, while there are two verbs in the independent clause ( stretched and peered ), they are both paired up with the same subject. Compound Sentence A compound sentence has two or more independent clauses, but it has no dependent clauses. The independent clauses can be joined by a semicolon; they can also be joined by a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, or nor, for, but, yet, so). 1. Fred wanted to play basketball, but he didn t make the team. 2. He would never eat a tomato again, nor would he throw one. Complex Sentence Although a complex sentence has only one independent clause, it may have more than one dependent clauses. 1. Nancy was thrilled to receive the shoes that she ordered through the internet. 2. I didn t know what to say when I heard the news. Compound-Complex Sentence A compound-complex sentence, which may be the most difficult type to write, has more than one independent clause, and it has at least one dependent clause. 1. While Sally washed the dishes, John swept the floor, and James wiped the counters. 2. Michael, who has been working on collaborative songwriting through the internet, thinks that the medium shows great promise, but Norah is not so sure about the quality that such an endeavor can produce. Source: Swedberg, Karl. "Writing/English Rules." English Rules. N.p., 3 Mar Web. 1 Sept

3 FIXING FRAGMENTS Sentence fragments occur when the sentence is missing a vital part, such as a subject or a verb. Because of this missing part, the sentence s meaning is incomplete. Fragment Patterns 1. A fragment sometimes begins with a preposition or a conjunctive adverb. Some common words and phrases that appear in these fragments are although, if, before, that, so that, though, unless, who, where, which, when, instead of, and therefore. Troy Maxon discourages his son Cory from trying to play college football. Although Troy himself was a professional baseball player. As part of his plan to trick Othello, Iago takes the handkerchief. That Desdemona had dropped on the ground. 2. A fragment sometimes begins with an ing verb. The town officials go to Emily s house and demand that she start to pay taxes. Forgetting the agreement that was made by Colonel Sartoris years ago. 3. A fragment may be missing a subject or a verb. Mother revolts by moving the family s furniture into the new barn. Refuses to live in her shabby house any longer. Montresor plans his crime during carnival season. A time of parties and costumes. Correcting Fragments The middle sentence in this passage is a fragment, which can be corrected by adding the necessary part or combining with another complete sentence Helmer treats Nora like she is a child. Calling her pet names. He acts more like a father than a husband. 1. Connect the fragment to the sentence that comes before or after (using necessary punctuation). Helmer treats Nora like she is a child and calls her pet names. By calling her pet names, he acts more like a father than a husband. 2. Add the missing part (subject or verb) to the fragment. Helmer treats Nora like she is a child. He calls her pet names. 3

4 FIXING RUN-ONS Run-on sentences (also known as fused sentences) occur when two or more sentences are linked with no punctuation. There are three common ways to fix this error: 1. Separate the sentences with a period. 2. Separate the sentences with a semicolon. 3. Use a comma followed by a conjunction. Use the FANBOYS mnemonic to remember common conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. Example run-on sentence: The team won the championship everyone was thrilled! Example fixes: The team won the championship. Everyone was thrilled! The team won the championship; everyone was thrilled! The team won the championship, and everyone was thrilled! COMMAS Use commas to separate items in a series. The woman bought a pink dress, purple scarf, and crystal necklace. Use a comma to combine what would otherwise be two complete sentences with a coordinating conjunction. Coordinating conjunctions= FANBOYS (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So). I raced to school, but I was still late to class. The weather was warm, so we swam all day. Independent Independent Independent Independent Use a comma to follow introductory words, phrases, or clauses. When the bell rang, the students filed into school. Because he sang well, he joined a band. Seeing the tears on his face, I realized he was hurt. Yes, I would be glad to bring a dessert. Place commas around an appositive. An appositive is a noun or phrase that renames a nearby noun. My favorite book, Where the Sidewalk Ends, makes me laugh every time I open it. Here, the speaker s favorite book is the same thing as Where the Sidewalk Ends. Use commas around a word or phrase that interrupts or contrasts with the main idea. The water, however, tasted like eggs. She invited the girls in her class, but not the boys. 4

5 COMBINING SENTENCES The way in which you construct your sentences can help clarify important points for the reader. It can also help you avoid choppy sentences and write smoothly. Methods of combining sentences with equally important ideas: 1. Use a comma plus a coordinating conjunction. Use the FANBOYS trick to help remember these: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. Example: Herb wanted to go to San Francisco. He could not afford the airfare. Combined: Herb wanted to go to San Francisco, but he could not afford the airfare. 2. Use a semicolon plus a conjunctive adverb followed by a comma (moreover, nonetheless, furthermore, however, therefore, consequently, also) Example: We were hungry. We left early for lunch. Combined: We were hungry; therefore, we left early for lunch. Methods of combining sentences to emphasize one idea over another: 1. Use a subordinating conjunction to introduce the less important idea (after, although, as, as if, because, before, even though, if, in order that, rather, since, so that, than, though, unless, that, when, while, until, whether, while, where). Example: I was riding my bike on the path. I saw a huge snake. Combined: When I was riding on the path, I saw a huge snake. Combined: I saw a huge snake when I was riding on the path. In these examples, the main point of the sentence is that I saw a snake, not that I was riding my bike. 2. Use an appositive (a word or phrase that renames a noun or pronoun) to subordinate an idea. Example: I contacted Mr. Dashell. He is the shop teacher at my college. Combined: I contacted Mr. Dashell, the shop teacher at my college. In this example, the main point of the sentence is that I contacted Mr. Dashell, not that he is the shop teacher at the college. 3. Use a participial phrase (verb + ing or verb + ed/en) and a comma to subordinate ideas. Example: The dog snapped at the woman. She was taunting him. Combined: Provoked by her taunts, the dog snapped at the woman. Combined: The dog snapped at the woman, provoked by her taunts. In these examples, the main point is that the dog snapped, not that the woman taunted. 5

6 WORKSHOPPING SENTENCES Correct the errors in the following sentences: 1. She still would not admit it. Lying straight to my face. 2. I was tired and overworked and underpaid. 3. Daria was pleased to see her uncle but disappointed he forgot her birthday. 4. He ran as fast as he could, however he could not see very well though the fog. 5. Because Lois ran out of money so quickly she had to beg her mom for a loan. Combine the following sentences: 1. Robert disliked long-distance car trips. He took a train instead. 2. I warned her the error would disrupt the whole program. The error was an incorrect calculation. 3. The little girl ran away from the clown. He was scaring her. 4. I enjoy cycling. I bought a new bike. Write a few sentences on your own using the constructions we ve discussed. When finished, meet with a partner to go over your sentences. Ask the facilitator for help, if needed. Be ready to share. 6

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