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Sentences: linking clauses

As described in the section on clauses, sentences can become longer and more complex by adding extra information. Another way of developing a variety of sentences and thereby improving our writing style is by joining one or more clauses together. In order to understand these two methods we need to understand two important ideas: coordination and subordination.

If we remember that 'co' means 'with' (like in co - operation), and 'sub' means under (like sub - marine), the difference between coordination and subordination in sentences may become clearer. Look at the different ways you can change a simple sentence, like the first example below.

1 People read books quickly.



2 People read books quickly so they can meet their deadlines.

In sentence 2, the group of words, 'they can meet their deadlines', could be a sentence by itself. It is therefore called an independent clause and the relationship between the two parts is an example of co-ordination.

3 People who have to write academic essays read books quickly.

In sentence 3, the group of words, 'who have to write academic essays', could not be a sentence by itself. This group of words needs a main clause, and therefore is called a dependent clause. We need to know what the word 'who' is joined to. This is an example of sub-ordination. Linking words like 'although' and 'because' are also used in dependent (subordinate) clauses.

3a Although students have write many academic essays, they usually manage to meet all of their deadlines.

4 People who have to write academic essays read books quickly so they can meet their deadlines.

Sentence 4 has 3 clauses and combines subordination and co-ordination.

Task: Sentences

Question about types of sentences

Good writing makes use of simple (1), compound (2), complex (3) and compound-complex (4) sentences.

For lists of words which can join clauses together, look at this site on conjunctions.

 

 

   
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