Compound sentences and compound words are an easy and fun way to add interest to a sentence. By combining two thoughts in one sentence or word, you can add to the information you provide in your communication.
Kinds of Compound 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 all 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 cleans her room and brushes her teeth every day.
- A complex sentence has one independent clause (sentence) 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 went to the party after he did his chores.”
- A compound sentence has two simple sentences, or independent clauses. The clauses are connected one of two ways: with a coordinator or coordinating conjunction, or with a semicolon. Two examples are “Han waited for the bus, and it arrived on time” and “You have waited very patiently; finally the day has arrived.”
Construction of Compound Sentences
Some compound sentences are joined by a coordinating conjunction, which usually has a comma before it unless the sentence is very short. 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 my friend likes strawberry.
- They wanted to go to Italy, because they wanted to see Venice.
- I am on a diet yet I really 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 compounds in 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 all the things you will need; for example, a sleeping bag will keep you warm.
- I have paid all of the 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 presidents and some other well-known people:
- "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 such as bullfrog, snowball and mailbox.
- The hyphenated form is when two words are separated by a hyphen such as 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 such as 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 also be confusing; so, be sure to use compound sentences and words judiciously.