Saturday, December 30, 2006

Combining Sentences

“What makes a sentence a good sentence?”

“What are the characteristics of a good sentence?”

You might answer: “Sentences are good if they are descriptive,” or “A sentence is a good sentence if it contains a complete thought,” and finally, after thinking about and remembering past lessons, "Short sentences are good sentences."

Sometimes the best sentence for the purpose is a short sentence. Also, a short clear sentence is better than a long, confusing one. However, research shows that as students progress, their sentence length grows in direct proportion. Beginners write very short sentences, intermediates write longer sentences, and advanced students and skilled native speakers write even longer ones. Professional writers writers the longest sentences of all.

But how are those mature sentences structured?

Professionals use what are called sentence modifiers like verbal and appositive phrases, and adjective clauses. These descriptive modifiers allow writers to develop the complete thoughts but to do it in a way that makes writing flow with a rhythm that engages the readers’ attention and keeps readers from getting lost in clause.

Working with a variety of structures has the additional advantage of helping you work through grammar and syntax problems that convince many teachers to counsel students to simplify their lives by chopping up their sentences.

Research shows that sentence combining is the most effective technique to teach sentence level maturity.

In brief
• Too many short sentences in a paragraph will make it sound choppy and keep the ideas expressed in the paragraph from flowing properly.
• Too many clauses combined using coordinating conjunctions, such as and, but, and so, can make your paragraph repetitious. Over-coordinating might also result in the grouping of too many unrelated ideas.
• To fix these problems, use a variety of sentence combining techniques.

About Sentence Combining
(some with exercises)

  • Sentence Combining Page (comprehensive!)

  • Combining Sentences for Variety and Clarity

  • Sentence Combining Slideshow

  • Sentence Combining Patterns and Exercises

  • Sentence Sense

  • Examples of Sentence Combining

  • Non-interactive exercises

  • Sentence Combining Activity

  • Printable Sentence Combining Exercise

  • Interactive Exercises

  • ESL Matching Quiz

  • Combining Quiz #1

  • Combining Quiz #2

  • Combining to Improve Style

    1. Combining sentences is not as easy as I though. I have studied most of the links and done some exercises, but it still not easy to applied. I have to think what I want to express firt, then use the teniques they taught. I just can't write a clear, expressive mixed combining sentense. It's so tough. I need study more and practice more. This is the most difficult lesson I have studied.

    2. Sentence combining takes time and practice. If the exercises seem tough, spend more time on simple combining exercises. Get comfortable using coordinating conjunctions before worrying about dependent clauses with coordinating conjunctions and relative pronouns.

      Here are some to practic with. Bear in mind that there is no single "right way" to combine sentences. Here's another tip: combine them in stages. Don't try to do all the combining in one shot.

      My doctor warned me about trying to lose weight too fast.
      My coach reminded me of the danger involved.
      My mother told me the same thing.

      Breakfast cereals contain fiber.
      Oat bran may reduce cholesterol.
      Advertisers stress the health benefits of their products.

      Jogging is a popular sport.
      A person should wear the right type of clothing to run.
      The cost of running shoes is escalating.
      Most people are very selective about the kind of running shoe they buy.

      Scientists use guinea pigs in their laboratory experiments.
      They inject them with a disease.
      They observe their behavior.
      They dissect them.
      They examine the effect of the disease on their organs.


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