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Richard Nordquist

Coordination: Practice in Building, Combining, and Revising Sentences (Part Two)

By December 28, 2012

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Welcome to part two of our series on sentence combining. (If you missed part one, see Language Legos.) The focus this month is on coordinating words, phrases, and clauses.

As usual, the "sample answers" at the end are just that--examples of satisfactory combinations and revisions. You, of course, can do better.


  1. Combining With Coordinating Conjunctions
    Combine these two sentences using an appropriate coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, so, or yet).
    Most people regard the computer as an electronic marvel.
    The principle on which it operates is relatively simple.

  2. Combining With Correlative Conjunctions
    Combine these two sentences using the correlative conjunction not only . . . but.
    The tides advance and retreat in their eternal rhythms.
    The level of the sea itself is never at rest.

  3. Coordinating Sentences With Semicolons
    Combine the short sentences in each set below (a and b), and then join the two main clauses with a semicolon to create a balanced sentence.
    a) She stood upright.
    She stood with the strength of an oak.
    She stood like this when strength was needed.

    b) She bent with grace.
    She bent with the ease of a willow.
    She bent like this when her help was needed.

  4. Reducing Coordinated Constructions
    Make the following sentence more concise by replacing the semicolon with an appropriate coordinating conjunction and then omitting the words in italics.
    Writing is not a way of escaping from life; writing is another way of experiencing it.

  5. Coordinating Items in a List
    Combine these five sentences into a single sentence, using a colon to separate the list of items from the rest of the main clause.
    The typical modern car can be divided into four main component systems.
    There is the engine.
    There is the transmission.
    There is the electrical system.
    There is the chassis.

  6. Reducing and Rearranging Coordinated Constructions
    Make the following sentence more concise by reducing the italicized clause to a phrase and then inserting it between the words effective and means.
    Humor is a most effective means of handling the difficult situations in our lives, yet it is a frequently neglected means.

  7. Reducing Sentences With Ellipses
    Make this sentence more concise by omitting the words in italics.
    Neville plays the piano loudly, but he does not play the piano well.

Sample Answers:

  1. Most people regard the computer as an electronic marvel, yet the principle on which it operates is relatively simple.

  2. "Not only do the tides advance and retreat in their eternal rhythms, but the level of the sea itself is never at rest."
    (Rachel Carson, The Edge of the Sea, 1955)

  3. "She stood upright with the strength of an oak when strength was needed; she bent with grace and the ease of a willow when her help was needed."
    (Wilma Dykeman, Look to This Day, 1968)

  4. Writing is not a way of escaping from life but another way of experiencing it.

  5. The typical modern car can be divided into four main component systems: the engine, the transmission, the electrical system, and the chassis.

  6. Humor is a most effective, yet frequently neglected, means of handling the difficult situations in our lives.

  7. Neville plays the piano loudly but not well.

Stop back on January 28 for additional practice in building, combining, and revising sentences. Or if you can't wait, try the exercises below.

Further Practice in Coordinating Words, Phrases, and Clauses:

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