sojourner truth

by faith

"One of the marks of a skilled writer is the ability to use sentence structure to enhance meaning; helping students develop that ability is the purpose behind sentence combining."

~Deborah Dean, Sentence Combining: Building Skills through Reading and Writing

What is Sentence Combining?

Sentence combining is the process of joining two or more short, simple sentences to make one longer sentence in order to enhance meaning and increase sentence variety.

Rationale for Sentence Combining

Sentence combining activities provide opportunities for students to manipulate written text in order to increase their understanding of grammar and syntax, vary sentence structure, learn punctuation, practice revision skills, and enhance meaning.
"Once students understand the concept of combining sentences, sentences can be varied and specific skills targeted." ~Bruce Saddler

First Things First: Understanding the Basics of Grammar

Four Sentence Structures

Join simple sentences using words.

1) A rainbow appeared in the sky.

2) The rainbow was beautiful.

3) The sky is clear and blue.


A beautiful rainbow appeared in the clear, blue sky.

Join two simple sentences using a prepositional phrase.

1) The cardboard box is filled with books.

2) The cardboard box is on the table.


The cardboard box on the table is filled with books.

Join two simple sentences using a verbal phrase.

1) The boy is my best friend.

2) The boy is standing in the corner.


The boy standing in the corner is my best friend.

Join two sentences using an appositive phrase.

1) Mrs. Johnson is one of the best teachers at our school.

2) She is a math teacher.


Mrs. Johnson, a math teacher, is one of the best teachers at our school.

Join two simple sentences to create a compound sentence.

1) Miguel was falling behind in his geometry class.

2) He decided to work with a tutor.


Using a coordinating conjunction:

Miguel was falling behind in his geometry class, so he decided to work with a tutor.

Using a conjunctive adverb:

Miguel was falling behind in his geometry class; therefore, he decided to work with a tutor.

Using a semicolon:

Miguel was falling behind in his geometry class; he decided to work with a tutor.

There Are Only Three Ways To create A Compound Sentence:

Join two simple sentences together with the conjunctions listed below:


1) Coordinating Conjunctions

2) Conjunctive Adverbs

3) Semicolons

Join two simple sentences to create a complex sentence.

A complex sentence consists of one independent clause plus one dependent or subordinate clause.


1) I can improve improve my grades.

2) I will start taking better notes in class.

  • I will start taking better notes in class so that I can improve my grades.
  • Unless I start taking better notes in class, I will never improve my grades.
  • I will never improve my grades unless I start taking better notes in class.
  • I improve my grades when I take better notes in class.
  • When I take better notes in class, I improve my grades.
  • I will not improve my grades until I begin taking better notes in class.
  • Until I begin taking better notes in class, I will not improve my grades.

Combine two sentences to create a compound subject.

1) Working out is a great way to keep in shape.

2) Lifting weights is a great way to keep in shape.


Working out and lifting weights are two great ways to keep in shape.

Compound-Complex Sentences

Two simple sentences joined together with a coordinating conjunction, conjunctive adverb, or a semicolon and at least one dependent or subordinate clause:


  • Even though efforts had been made to make our neighborhood safe, crime in the neighborhood increased, so police began patrolling the streets more often.
  • Crime in the neighborhood increased even though efforts had been made to make our neighborhood safe, so police began patrolling the streets more often.