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Using Independent Clauses



This module deals with compound sentence elements (subjects, verbs, etc.) and compound sentences (two independent clauses joined together).


Compound subjects: Mother and Father are leaving tomorrow.

Compound verbs: Mother left at noon and took a plane.

Compound direct objects: I saw a zebra and a lion.

Compound adjectives: The large but graceful dancer danced.

Any sentence element may be a compound.


Two independent clauses may be joined to become a compound sentence. The pattern is

S-V, and/or/but/nor/for/yet/so S-V.

Mother left early, but Father was late.

I knew what to do, yet I failed in my task.

He lay down on the grass, for weariness overtook him.

Notice that only a limited number of conjunctions can join compound elements or compound sentences: AND, OR, BUT, FOR, NOR, YET, SO.

These coordinate conjunctions join things of equal value. If there is a subject on the left of the conjunction, there must be a subject on the right. When coordinate conjunctions join independent clauses, a comma goes before the conjunction.


Other words that may join independent clauses are conjunctive adverbs, but these words must join independent clauses with semicolons [;], not commas [,].

Some conjunctive adverbs:

consequently for example furthermore however

instead moreover nevertheless otherwise

then therefore thus

The pattern is S-V; therefore, S-V.


however, etc.

Conjunctive adverbs are followed by a comma because they are interrupters.

Semicolons, like periods, may also separate two independent clauses when there is no conjunction. A semicolon indicates a closer relationship than a period does.

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