We will recall that the basic connectives for linking two or more grammatically equal sentence elements are the so-called coordinating conjunctions. There are seven of them, namely âfor,â âand,â ânor,â âbut,â âor,â âyet,â and âsoâ (the âfanboysâ for short). Their use creates whatâs known as a compound element, which can be in the form of a compound subject, a compound predicate, or a compound sentence.
THE 7 COORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS
Letâs start from the simplest coordinating conjunctions:
1. âAndâ to form a compound subject: âArts and sciences
are staples of Western liberal education.â âRomeo and Juliet
are star-crossed lovers in Shakespeareâs play.â
2. âOrâ to form a compound predicate: âFrom here you sail to Puerto Galera or fly to Puerto Princesa
.â Here, âorâ combines the verb phrases âsail to Puerto Galeraâ and âfly to Puerto Princesaâ to form a compound predicate.
3. âButâ to form a compound sentence: âThey find their new boss not really likable
, but they find him an improvement over their previous bumbling boss
.â Here, âbutâ connects the independent clauses âthey find their new boss not really likableâ and âthey find him an improvement over their previous bumbling bossâ to form a compound sentence.
From the preceding paragraph, we can see that forming a compound sentence isnât as simple as just forming compound subjects and compound predicates. It requires not just linking words or phrases spatially but using logic and semantics to form ideas. In particular, it needs a clear understanding of what independent clauses and dependent or subordinate clauses are, and what makes particular sentence elements coequal or parallel. We must firmly keep in mind that coordinating conjunctions can work only to combine independent clauses and coequal or parallel sentence elements
Remember now that an independent clause can stand its own as a complete sentence, while a dependent or subordinate clause canât do so and must depend on another clause to acquire meaning. Consider this first clause, âwe voted for her,â and this second one, âbelieving she was competent.â The first, which can stand on its own because it forms a complete thought, is an independent clause; the second, which must latch on to another clause to make sense, is a dependent clause. Now see what happens when we make this second clause subordinate to the first: âBelieving she was competent, we voted for her.â Combined they make a complete and logical sentence.
We will also remember that for two sentence elements to be coequal, none of them should be dependent on or subordinate to the other; and that for them to be parallel, both should have the same grammatical and structural form. This isnât the case with the two sentence elements weâve combined above; thus, they arenât coordinate elements.
We can now discuss the role of the coordinating conjunctions in compound sentence construction:
1. âAndâ to establish an additive relationship between two independent clauses: âThe feuding politicians couldnât find common ground, and
they ended up demolishing each other.â
2. âButâ or âyetâ to indicate contrast or opposition between ideas expressed by two independent clauses: âMany online trollers mercilessly bash certain personalities, but/yet
the personalities funding these trollers are often even more contemptible.â
3. âOrâ to indicate alternatives indicated by two independent clauses: âWe can leave right now, or
we can go when the rain stops.â
4. âNorâ to indicate negation of the ideas conveyed by two independent clauses: âShe doesnât want to marry her fiancĂ© nor
wish to give back their engagement ring.â (The full form of this construction: âShe doesnât want to marry her fiancĂ© nor
does she wish to give back their engagement ring.â)
5. âSoâ to indicate an outcome expressed by an independent clause: âHeâs an old hand in politics, so
heâs biding his time after his latest defeat.â
6. And last, âfor,â in the sense of âbecause,â to express a cause-and-effect relationship between two independent clauses: âThey kicked him out, for
he had obnoxious habits.â
It's important to keep in mind this general rule in compound sentence constructions: the independent clause being combined must be set apart by a comma from the other independent clause, as shown in all of the six examples given above.
Next: Getting reacquainted with the subordinating conjunctions
(April 27, 2017)This essay first appeared in the weekly column âEnglish Plain and Simpleâ by Jose A. Carillo in the Education Section of the April 20, 2017 issue of
The Manila Times (print edition only), Â© 2017 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.