Compound sentences and compound words are an easy way to add interest to a sentence. By combining two ideas in one sentence or word you can quickly provide all the information needed in your communication.
Kinds of Sentences
Good writers will use different kinds of sentences to make their writing interesting and fluid. The text will sound choppy if too many simple sentences are used, and it will be complicated and hard to read if too many long, complex sentences are used.
Following are explanations and examples of three types of sentences: simple, complex and compound.
- A simple sentence expresses a complete thought and contains a subject and a verb. An example would be: “Mary went to the library to study.”
A simple sentence may have a compound subject, meaning more than one, but it is still considered a simple sentence. An example is: “Jose and Brittany are getting married.”
A simple sentence can also have a compound verb, like: “Meaghan makes her bed and brushes her teeth every morning.
- A complex sentence has one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. A dependent clause has a subject and verb, but is not a complete thought, so it cannot stand alone. These two clauses are joined by a marker word like: after, although, as, as if, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order to, since, though, unless, until, whatever, when, whenever, whether, and while. An example is: “He wasn't allowed to go to the party until he did his chores.”
- A compound sentence has two simple sentences, or independent clauses. The clauses are connected in one of three ways:
- With a coordinating conjunction. For example: "She ran quickly but still did not catch the escaping puppy."
Note: A comma is not necessary before the conjunction if the second clause does not have a subject before the second verb.
- With correlatives (either-or, neither-nor, not only-but also, both-and): "Either the girl will catch the puppy or the puppy will escape."
- With a semicolon. For example: "The puppy has been waiting to go outside; finally the day has arrived."
Construction of Compound Sentences
Some compound sentences are joined by a coordinating conjunction. The coordinators are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. A helpful hint to help you remember them is the first letter of each coordinator spells “fanboys.”
Examples of compounds in sentences include:
- My husband was working, so I went shopping.
- I like chocolate ice cream but don't have it very often.
- They wanted to go to Italy, for they wanted to see Venice.
- I am on a diet yet still want a cookie.
- He did not take the money, for it was not the right thing to do.
Other compound sentences are joined with a semicolon. If a semicolon is used, it may or may not have a conjunctive adverb. Some examples of conjunctive adverbs are:
- for example
- as a result
- that is
- in fact
Following are examples of compound sentences that use a semicolon or a semicolon with a conjunctive adverb.
- The moon is full; the stars are out.
- Call me tomorrow; I will give you my answer then.
- I will be glad to help you; besides, I love to cook.
- You need to pack the appropriate things for camping; for example, a sleeping bag will keep you warm.
- I have paid my dues; as a result, I expect to receive all the privileges listed in the bylaws.
Famous Compound Sentences
Here are a few examples of compound sentences spoken by well-known figures:
- "A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on." (John F. Kennedy)
- "Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one." (Lyndon B. Johnson)
- "Tell the truth, work hard, and come to dinner on time." (Gerald R. Ford)
- "I have often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can't get my wife to go swimming." (Jimmy Carter)
- "Trust but verify." (Ronald Reagan)
- "I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don't always agree with them."(George H. W. Bush)
- "You can put wings on a pig, but you don't make it an eagle." (Bill Clinton)
- "I used to be snow white, but I drifted." (Mae West)
- "I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land." (Jon Stewart)
Construction of Compound Words
A compound word is when two words are combined to form a new word or phrase. There are three types of compound words: closed form, hyphenated and open form.
- The closed form is when two words are combined to form a new word. For example: bullfrog, snowball and mailbox.
- The hyphenated form is when two words are separated by a hyphen. For example: two-fold, check-in and merry-go-round.
- The open form is when the two words remain separate but are used together to create a two-word phrase with a specific meaning. For example: attorney general, peanut butter and Boy Scouts.
Compounding Makes Communication Interesting
By adding a compound sentence or a compound word to your writing, you can make the sentence more interesting and more descriptive for the reader. The addition of too many words can be confusing; so, be sure to use compound sentences and words wisely.