ENGL1121:  Sentence Combining Exercises:


  1. Coordination and Subordination

·   Remember:  Coordination and subordination are ways of showing the exact relationship of ideas within a sentence.  Through coordination we show that ideas are of equal importance.  When we coordinate, we use the words and, but, for, or nor, so yet. Through subordination we show that one idea is less important than another.  When we subordinate, we use dependent words like when, although, since, while, because, and after.  (WR:E6)

·   Keep in mind that often the relationship among ideas in a sentence will be clearer when subordination rather than coordination is used.


Comma Hints:

·   Use a comma at the end of a word group that starts with a dependent word (as in “Because my car is not starting on cold mornings,…”)

·   Use a comma between independent word groups connected by and, but, for, or not, so, yet (as in “I already had it recharged once, so…”)


Directions: Use coordination and subordination to combine the following groups of simple sentences into one or more longer sentences.  Omit repeated words.  A variety of combinations is possible.


  1. My car is not starting on cold mornings.  I think the battery needs to be replaced.  I already had it recharged once.  I don’t think it would help to charge it again.
  2. Louse used a dandruff shampoo.  She still had dandruff.  She decided to see a dermatologist.
  3. Al’s parents want him to be a doctor.  Al wants to be a salesman.  He impresses people with his charm.
  4. The teacher conducted a discussion period.  Jack sat at the desk with his head down.  He did not want the teacher to call on him.  He had not read the assignment.
  5. Lola wanted to get a quick lunch at the cafeteria.  All the sandwiches were gone.  She had to settle for a cup of yogurt.
  6. Ed skimmed through the help-wanted ads.  Nothing was there for him.  He desperately needed a job.  He would have to sell his car.  He could no longer keep up the payments.
  7. The meat loaf didn’t taste right.  The mashed potatoes had too much salt in them.  We sent out for a pizza.  It was delivered late.  It was cold.
  8. My car was struck from behind yesterday.  I slowed suddenly for a red light.  The driver of the truck behind me slammed on his brakes.  He didn’t quite stop on time.
  9. I ate too quickly.  My stomach became upset.  It felt like a war combat zone.  I took two Alka-Seltzer tablets.
  10. Midge is always buying plants and flower seeds.  She enjoys growing things.  Not many things grow well for her.  She doesn’t know why.


II. Other patterns that Add Variety

·   -ing Word Groups

Example:  The doctor examined the x-rays.  He hoped for the best.

       The doctor, hoping for the best, examined the x-rays.

Combine each pair of sentences below into one sentence by using an –ing word and omitting repeated words.  Use a comma or commas to set off the –ing word group from the rest of the sentence.


  1. Ginger refused to get out of bed.  She pulled the blue blanket over her head.
  2. Dad is able to forget the troubles of the day.  He putters around in his basement workshop.
  3. The crowds of dancers moved as one.  They swayed to the music.


·   -ed Word Groups

Example:  Mary was amused by the joke.  She told it to a friend.

                  Mary, amused by the joke, told it to a friend.


Combined each pair of sentences below into one sentence by using an –ed word and omitting repeated words.  Use a comma or commas to set off the –ed word group from the rest of the sentence.


  1. I called an exterminator.  I was bothered by roaches.
  2. Sam grew silent.  He was baffled by what had happened.
  3. I tried to stifle my grin.  I was amused but was reluctant to show how I felt.


  1. Complex Sentence Structures


·   A complex sentence structure is used when you want to emphasize one idea over another in a sentence.   Example:  Because I forgot the time, I missed the final exam.

·   Use logical dependent words to combine the following pairs of simple sentences into complex sentences.  Place a comma after a dependent statement when it starts a sentence.

Example:  I obtained a credit card.  I began spending money recklessly.

          When I obtained a credit card, I began spending money recklessly.


Writers Reference, p. 453:   Example of common dependent words (subordinate conjunctions) Note differences between subordinate conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs.


1.      The teacher announced the quiz.  The class groaned.

2.      Gene could not fit any more groceries into his cart.  He decided to go to the checkout counter.

3.      Your car is out of commission.  You should take it to Otto’s Transmission.

4.      I finished typing the paper.  I proofread it carefully.

5.      We owned four cats and a dog.  No one would rent us an apartment.


Exercises:  Rewrite the following sentences, using subordination rather than coordination.  Include a comma when a dependent statement starts a sentence.


Example:  The hair dryer was not working right, so I returned it to the store.

                        Because the hair dryer was not working right, I returned it to the store.


1.      Ruth turned on the large window fan, but the room remained hot.

2.      The plumber repaired the hot water heater, so we can take showers again.

3.      I washed the sheets and towels, and I scrubbed the bathroom floor.

4.      You should go to a doctor, for your chest cold may get worse.

5.      The fish tank broke, and the guppies were flopping all over the carpet.


  1. Parallel Construction:

Example:  -ing words:  Fran spends her free time reading, listening to music, and working in the garden.

      -series of descriptive words: After the camping trip I was exhausted, irritable, and hungry.

      -to verbs: My hope for retirement is to be healthy, to live in a comfortable house, and to have plenty of money.

      -verbs and word order:  Nightly, Fred puts out the trash, checks the locks on the doors, and turns on the burglar alarm.  (verb-object order)


Rewrite the unbalanced part of the following sentences so that your correction matches the other item or items in the sentence.

      Example:  I enjoy watering the grass and to work in the garden.  ____working__


  1. Our production supervisor warned Jed to punch in on time, dress appropriately for the job, and he should stop taking extra breaks.
  2. On his ninetieth birthday, the old man mused that his long life was due to hard work, a loving wife, and because he had a sense of humor.
  3. The philosopher’s advice is to live for the present, find some joy in each day, and by helping others.
  4. Freshly prepared food, an attractive décor, and having prompt service are signs of a good restaurant.
  5. Martha has tickets for reckless driving, speeding, and she parked illegally.
  6. Washing clothes, cooking meals, and to take care of children used to be called “women’s work.”
  7. Our compact car provides better mileage; more comfort is provided by our station wagon.
  8. As the first bartender to arrive each day, Eileen must slice lemons, get ice, and she has to check the inventory.
  9. Last week I finished my term paper, took all my final exams, and an interview for a summer job.
  10. On our ideal vacation, I enjoy lazing in the sun, eating delicious food, and to be with special friends.


Sample Paragraphs:  Exercises in “consistent person,” and “parallelism.”


    1. Job hunters can increase their chances of landing a job by carefully preparing for an interview.  First, he should research the company so that he can make suggestions or ask questions that show his interest.  To increase your confidence, you might even rehearse the interview with a counselor or a friend beforehand.  You should have neat, professional-looking clothes all ready before the interview day.  They should allow plenty of time to get there so they will not feel rushed.  Thus prepared, you can relax at the interview and even enjoy it.



    1. (Parallelism)  Our local flea market is always lively and one has fun there.  Every Sunday sellers, buyers, and just plain lookers get together in the parking lot of the Starlite Drive-In.  Everything imaginable is for sale—from fine jewelry to worthless junk.  I can find old clothes, plastic dishes, pistols that are antique, and fake fur seat covers for my car.  The sellers call me over, are offering me a treasure, and will promise me a special price.  Eagerly or cautious, the buyers look over the merchandise.   Sometimes they bargain, and sometimes they buy.  The food is terrific, whether it’s homemade bean pies, eating chili dogs, or purple Kool-Aid.   No matter what, there is always a lot of talking, laughing, and people socialize.