Lessons on Writing Effective Sentences Part III: Subordination Adapted from The Writer’s Options (3rd ed.) by Donald Daiker, Andrew Kerek, and Max Morenberg Instruction Imagine, if you can, that you are writing a research paper and you want to make these two observations: Some species of whales are nearing extinction. Many countries refuse to accept even a partial ban on whale hunting. How can you combine these two sentences? As we saw in an earlier lesson, you could use simple coordination: (1) Some species of whales are nearing extinction, and yet many countries refuse to accept even a partial ban on whale hunting. But if you want to suggest that one sentence is more important than the other, you can make one clause a subordinate clause: (2) Although some species of whales are nearing extinction, many countries refuse to accept even a partial ban on whale hunting. [OR] (3) Because many countries refuse to accept even a partial ban on whale hunting, some species of whales are nearing extinction. Subordinate clauses (underlined above) are introduced with subordinating conjunctions like after, although, as long as, as soon as, because, before, even though, if, provided that, since, so that, though, till, until, when, whenever, whereas, while. Subordinating conjunctions do three things for us: they give adverbial information (like time, place, condition, reason, manner, etc.), they help us emphasize certain things more than others, and they help us write economically. As an example of this last point, watch how subordination changes the writing in passage (4) into the less wordy and more stylistically pleasing sentence (5): (4) Nuclear plants are a clean and economical way of producing much-needed energy. Their existence, however, depends on whether local residents are willing to put up with them. (5) Nuclear plants are a clean and economical way of producing much-needed energy, if local residents are willing to put up with them. Because subordinate clauses can be moved around, subordination is an excellent way to add your own style and creativity to your writing. Exercises 1. As a class, practice adding subordinate clauses before and/or after the simple sentences below. Then discuss how the order of the clauses adds emphasis. a. She threw her shoe at him. b. My mom and dad grounded me for a month. c. We may never end the cycle of violence in Africa. 2. In groups of three or by yourself, combine the sentences below into one sentence using subordinating conjunctions. Rearrange and revise the sentences any way you want. a. Some people think reality television shows exploit their contestants. Many contestants on reality TV receive fame and prizes for participating. b. Adultery has never been more popular. The injunction not to cheat on your spouse has been in Western culture for at least 2500 years. 3. Revise a passage of your writing by adding subordinate clauses or subordinating conjunctions to give adverbial information, to emphasize one thing over another, and to combine sentences to make your writing less wordy. Note: as you revise, you can make your sentences interesting and complex by combining what you learned in this lesson about subordination with what you learned in Lesson I about coordination. In other words, your sentences can combine a subordinate clause with two independent clauses combined with a coordinating conjunction, as in this example from The Market Revolution by Charles Sellers: and As Indians stepped up their harvest of animal pelts to exchange, taboos broke down overkilling disrupted the Indian ecology. In this example, the subordinate clause is underlined, the two independent clauses are in bold, and the coordinating conjunction is in italics.