Compound sentences can be formed in three ways:
(1) using coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet);
(2) using the semicolon, either with or without conjunctive adverbs;
(3) on occasion, using the colon.
- Exercise in Identifying Sentences by Structure
- Sentence-Imitation Exercise: Compound Sentences
- Balanced Sentence
- Basic Sentence Structures
- Clausal Coordination
- Coordinating Words, Phrases, and Clauses
- Sentence Variety in Gilbert Highet's "Diogenes"
Examples and Observations:
- "They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom."
(Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart, 1995)
- "The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended."
(Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968)
- "Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't go to yours."
- "Feasts must be solemn and rare, or else they cease to be feasts."
- "Arguments are to be avoided: they are always vulgar and often convincing."
- Messages Sent by Compound Sentences
"The structure of a compound sentence sends certain messages to readers, no matter how you fill in the blanks. First, it tells readers that the sentence contains two relatively important ideas, each one deserving its own independent clause. Second, it tells readers that these two ideas are approximately equal in importance, since they are balanced as a pair. And third, it alerts readers to the relationship between the two ideas, depending on the connector. For example, and suggests that the two ideas are being added together, but indicates that they are being contrasted, and or tells us that they are alternatives. A semicolon suggests balance between two similar or sharply contrasting statements."
(Diana Hacker and Betty Renshaw, Writing With a Voice, 2nd ed. Scott, Foresman, 1989)
- "It was dawn outside, a glowing gray, and birds had plenty to say out in the bare trees; and at the big window was a face and a windmill of arms."
(David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, 1996)
- "The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the teacup opens
A lane to the land of the dead."
(W. H. Auden, "As I Walked Out One Evening")
- "I used to be snow white, but I drifted."
- "A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on."
(John F. Kennedy)
- "Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one."
(attributed to both Lyndon B. Johnson and Sam Rayburn)
- "Tell the truth, work hard, and come to dinner on time."
(Gerald R. Ford)
- "I have often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can't get my wife to go swimming."
(attributed to Jimmy Carter, among others)
- "Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them."
- "I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don't always agree with them."
(George H. W. Bush)
- "You can put wings on a pig, but you don't make it an eagle."
- "The tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free."
(George W. Bush)
- "Money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference."