compound sentences module - Universidad de Puerto Rico en Arecibo

Geissa R. Torres, Ph.D
Compound Sentences
Varying Sentence Structure
Do writers want their readers to fall asleep in the middle of a sentence? Of course not.
When a writer tells a story, he or she uses words to create a variety of interesting
sentences. Read the following paragraphs. Which one sparks your interest more?
Paul Revere waited in Charlestown. He looked for a light at the Old North
Church. He saw a light. He saw a second light. He leaped on his horse. He
warned villagers of a British attack.
While Paul Revere waited in Charlestown, he looked for a light at the Old North
Church. He saw one light, and then he saw a second light. He leaped onto his
horse and warned villagers of a British attack.
The second paragraph contains a mixture of simple, compound, and complex
sentences that makes the writing more interesting. A simple sentence has one
independent clause.
A compound sentence has two or more independent clauses. A complex sentence
has one independent clause and at least one subordinate clause.
SIMPLE SENTENCE: Paul Revere pats his horse. [one independent clause]
NOTE: Simple sentences may have compound subjects, compound verbs, or both.
COMPOUND SENTENCE: Paul looked up at the church, and he waited for a signal.
[two independent clauses joined by the conjunction and]
What is a compound sentence?
A compound sentence is a sentence that contains two complete ideas (called
clauses) that are related. These two clauses are usually connected in a compound
sentence by a conjunction.
Compound Sentences
- A compound sentence has two independent clauses. An independent clause is
a part of a sentence that can stand alone because it contains a subject
and a verb and expresses a complete thought.
- Basically, a compound contains two simple sentences.
- These independent clauses are joined by a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or,
yet, so).
There are three methods of combining two independent clauses (two simple sentences)
Method one:
1. The shoplifter had stolen clothes, so he ran once he saw the police.
Both sides of the conjunction “so” are complete sentences. “The shoplifter had
stolen clothes” can stand alone and so can “he ran once he saw the police.”
Therefore, this is a compound sentence.
2. They spoke to him in Spanish, but he responded in English.
This is also a compound sentence that uses a conjunction to separate two
individual clauses.
The English language has seven coordinating conjunctions, and they’re easy to
remember if you can just remember FANBOYS:
For - Explains reason or purpose (just like “because”)
I go to the park every Sunday, for I love to watch the ducks on the lake.
And - Adds one thing to another
I go to the park every Sunday to watch the ducks on the lake and the shirtless men
playing soccer.
Nor - Used to present an alternative negative idea to an already stated negative
I don’t go for the fresh air nor really for the ducks. Honestly, I just like the soccer.
But - Shows contrast
The soccer in the park is entertaining in the winter, but it’s better in the heat of
Or - Presents an alternative or a choice
The men play on teams: shirts or skins.
Yet - Introduces a contrasting idea that follows the preceding idea logically (similar
to “but”)
I always take a book to read, yet I never seem to turn a single page.
So - Indicates effect, result or consequence
I’ve started dating one of the soccer players, so now I have an excuse to watch the
game each week.
Method two:
This method may seem like a really easy way to combine two sentences; it is. In fact,
you can use a semicolon the way you would use a period. The only difference is that
with a semicolon, there should be an obvious connection between the two sentences. In
this method, you don’t have a coordinating conjunction to establish the relationship
between the two ideas; the connection must be so clear that it does not need to be
Method Three:
Example: I am disgusted with your behavior; however, I will give you another chance.
This is a more formal way of combining two independent clauses. The formality is
created by the use of conjunctive adverbs. In the example above, however is the
conjunctive adverb. It means the same thing as the coordinating conjunction but. Many
of the coordinating conjunctions have corresponding conjunctive adverbs that work well
in writing for college, the workplace, and other formal occasions