Sentence Structure

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  • Topic: Dependent clause, Independent clause, Punctuation
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Sentence Structure and Avoiding Run-on Sentences

Sentence Structure

Depending on the number and type of clauses they contain, sentences are classified as simple, compound, complex, compound-complex.

1. Simple Sentences

A simple sentence contains only one independent clause.
Without dancing, life would not be fun.
A simple sentence can also contain compound elements (subject, verb, object). Evil enters like a needle and spreads like an oak. (compound verb)

2. Compound sentences

A compound sentence consists of two or more independent clauses with no subordinate clauses. They are joined with a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, so, for, yet) or with a semicolon. He wanted to join the group, but the other members wouldn’t let him. Most singers gain fame through hard work and dedication; Evita, however, found another means.

3. Complex sentences

A complex sentence is composed of one independent clause with one or more subordinate clauses.

The fur that warms a monarch once warmed a bear.
Home is the place where you slip in the tub and break your neck. Talent is what you possess.
Dig a well before you are thirsty.
Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you.
Juan can run faster than I can bicycle.
When he adopts a creed, a scientist commits suicide.
The receptionist knows [that] you are here.

Subordinating Adverbs

afterbeforerather thanthoughwherealthough
even thoughsinceunlesswhetherasas if
if howso thatuntilwhilethan
whenwhybecausein order thatthatbecause
although

Relative Pronouns

thatwhowhomwhosewhich

Other words introducing subordinate clauses
whoeverwhomeverwhateverwhicheverwheneverwherever

The above is true in both Spanish and English (Hacker, 2009, 768-770).

Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences are a serious problem because they indicate that the writer does not understand basic sentence structure either in Spanish or English. Run-ons are independent clauses (a word group that can stand alone as a complete sentence) that have not been joined correctly.

There are two types of run-on sentences. When a writer puts no punctuation and no coordinating conjunction between independent clauses, the sentence is said to be fused. EX: Gestures are a means of communication for everyone they are essential for the hearing paired.

A more common run-on sentence is the comma splice—two independent clauses joined with a comma without a coordinating conjunction (and, so, but, for, yet, or, nor). EX: Gestures are a means of communication for everyone, they are essential for the hearing impaired.

In other comma splices, the comma is accompanied by a joining word that is not a coordinating conjunction. EX: Gestures are a means of communication for everyone, however they are essential for the hearing impaired.

There are four methods of fixing a run-on sentence:

1. Use a comma and coordinating conjunction:
EX: Gestures are a means of communication for everyone, but they are essential for the hearing impaired.

2. Use a semi-colon (if the clauses are related) or a colon or a dash to separate the independent clauses. EX: Gestures are a means of communication for everyone; they are essential for the hearing impaired.

Sometimes the semi-colon is accompanied by a transitional expression. EX: Gestures are a means of communication for everyone; however, they are essential for the hearing impaired. (Other common transitions: moreover, nevertheless, for example, in fact, etc.). If appropriate you may also use a colon or a dash (less formal than the colon): EX: Nuclear waste is hazardous: This is an indisputable fact.

3. Make the clauses into separate sentences.
EX: Gestures are a means of communication for everyone. They are essential for the hearing impaired.

4. Restructure the sentence so that one of the clauses becomes subordinate. EX: While gestures are a...
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