Building Blocks of English: Part II

In an earlier posting, I discussed what elements need to be present for a sentence to be born in English.  However, it’s a little misleading to say that a sentence is created whenever a subject, verb and completed thought come together.

This may sound silly, but you still need a period to make a completed grouping of words into a sentence.  When you string together subject, verb and complete thought in English, what you really end up with is called an [tag]independent clause[/tag].  Add a period to an independent clause, and it becomes a sentence.  However (and this is a pretty big however), a sentence normally contains more than just one independent clause.  It may also contain dependent clauses, various phrases, parenthetical thoughts, and yes, even more independent clauses.

Consider these four independent clauses: | I got up | I took a shower | I ate breakfast | I went to work |.  You could indeed convert each one of them into a sentence, but you’d sound like a doofus if you made every independent clause into a sentence.  More likely, the speaker/writer in this case would start combining these four independent clauses.  "I got up, took a shower, ate breakfast and went to work" would be one way to do this, but there are a slew of other possibilities.

Stay tuned.  Tomorrow we’ll study those possibilities as I present the five rules for dealing with independent clauses in English.

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