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The Writer’s Reference Book


Module 3 – Using Independent Clauses – Hint Sheet

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

Compound Sentence Elements

  • 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.

Compound Sentences

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.

Conjunctive Adverbs

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, etc. The pattern is:

S-V; therefore, S-V.

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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