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Webinar Transcripts

Mastering the Mechanics Part 2: Compound & Complex Sentences

Presented March 19, 2018

View the recording

Last updated 4/13/2018

 

Visual: The webinar begins with a PowerPoint title slide in the large central panel. A captioning pod, Q&A pod, and files pod are stacked on the right side.

The slide says “Housekeeping” and the following:

  • Recording
    • Webinar is being recorded and will be available online a day or two from now.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
  • Help
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right-hand corner of the webinar room.

Audio: Hi, everyone. Welcome to today's webinar. I hope you are having a wonderful start to your week wherever you are. I'm Claire Helakoski and I'll be facilitating this webinar today, but before we get started I'm going to go ahead and go over a few housekeeping items just to remind you if you've been to a webinar before or give you a head's up about a few of our features during the presentation and in the Connect room if you haven't. So first up is that we will be recording today's webinar, which means that the recording will be available if you need to leave for any reason or would like to review it again later. We'll be posting that in a day or two. That will be in the webinar archive. Second, we'll have some interactive components that Amy has set up for this webinar, so those might involve polls, files, and links and all of those things will be interactive if you download the slides, you can interact with the links, and then we will have some interactive components during the webinar itself as well so that you can get in some practice.

Please use the Q&A Box to ask any questions that you might have during the webinar and I will be manning that box, so I will do my best to answer you and I will save relevant questions for Amy to ask at pauses in the presentation as well if those come up. Additionally, if you have questions after the fact or if you're watching this as a recording, then you can send us your questions at writingsupport@waldenu.edu. If you’re having technical issues during the presentation, you can you go ahead and let me know in the Q&A box and I have a couple of tips and tricks for you to try. But if you're having major issues, you can also choose the Help Button in the upper right‑hand of the webinar room, and that's Adobe Support Services and they will be able to help you a little more directly than I can, but still let me know. All right, so now that I've given you all of that information, we'll go ahead and hand it over to Amy. Just checking, you're able to hear me, correct Amy?

 

Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Mastering the Mechanics of Writing: Part 2: Compound and Complex Sentences. And the speakers name and information: Amy Bakke Writing Instructor & Coordinator of International and Multilingual Student Writing Support, Walden Writing Center

Audio: Amy: Yeah. Yeah.

Claire: Thank you.

Amy: Thanks, everyone for joining me for this Mastering the Mechanics of Writing Part 2 webinar. I think Claire mentioned, my name is Amy Bakke and I’m an instructor in the Writing Center and I’m also a coordinator of international and multilingual student writing support to which means that I get to spend some of my time creating resources for students, faculty, and staff and really think about how we can better support multilingual students at Walden which I love, and I'm happy to be here with you today and excited to get into kind of the nitty‑gritty of sentence structure. And I know this can be a topic that seems a little confusing or overwhelming, and I really just hope to bring some clarity to it today. If you came in early and had a chance to answer the poll questions, that's great. We just wanted to give you an opportunity to get thinking about sentence structure before we begin.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Session Overview

  • Review: Simple sentences
  • Compound sentences: Combining independent clauses
  • Complex sentences: Combining independent and dependent clauses
  • Practice: Revising sentences
  • Proofreading tips/tools

Audio: For today's session I'll do a brief overview of simple sentences, and in our Mastering the mechanics 1 webinar we focused on the structure of simple sentences, so if you think you need a review of that information or if you find the content of this webinar a little complex or confusing, I do encourage you to watch that recording of the Mastering the Mechanics 1 and that is available in the Webinar Section of our website. Then we'll discuss two different ways to combine information in sentences to create compound and complex sentences, and then we'll have some time for practice and some tips at the very end.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Session Goals

  • Differentiate between independent and dependent clauses.
  • Identify models and punctuation for compound and complex sentences.
  • Determine whether compound and complex sentences are structured correctly.
  • Revise incorrectly structured simple sentences.

Audio: And we have a few goals for the session today as well. The first is to help you differentiate between independent and dependent clauses, and these are the technical terms that I'll use and explain in the webinar, but basically that means differentiating between complete sentences and phrases that are not quite complete sentences. We'll also identify models and punctuation for compound and complex sentences, I'll explain more about what I mean by compound and complex as well a little bit later. And then another goal is to determine then whether a compound or complex sentence are structured correctly so we'll have some time for practice, and finally do some revision practice at the end so you can check for understanding.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: What Grammar Is Not

  • An indication of the quality or importance of your ideas
  • A reflection on your intelligence or potential as a scholar
  • The sole consideration or goal of writing
  • Innate knowledge that some people have and others lack

Audio: We like to begin all of these grammar webinars by discussing a bit about what grammar is and is not. Grammar in English, it gets a bit complex and it's really just one part of language learning and use, so I'll start by discussing what it's not. First of all, grammar is not an indication of the quality or importance of your ideas. Second, grammar is not a reflection of your intelligence or potential as a scholar. Also, grammar is not the sole consideration or goal of writing, while it’s important that it brings clarity to your ideas, the actual ideas that you’re writing about and being able to communicate them clearly is key. And finally, grammar is not innate knowledge that some people have and others lack, it's learned and like any other skill it can just take some time to become an expert at grammatical accuracy.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: What Grammar Is

  • A set of rules that enables you to communicate your ideas clearly
  • A way to help establish scholarly credibility
  • Important in all scholarly and professional writing
  • Learnable!

Audio: And then let's focus on what grammar is. Grammar is a set of rules that enables you to communicate your ideas clearly. These rules have been created over time by the community of speakers of the language and may vary a bit regionally or for different contexts. For example, grammar of spoken English tends to be a bit different than the commonly used grammar in academic English. Excuse me, and knowledge and use of standard English grammar can also help improve your credibility as a scholarly writer. You might be able to relate with this one if you've read published scholarly texts with spelling or grammar errors, if you see that you might question the writer's authority or credibility, you know, if that writer overlooked some of the minor, seemingly obvious, errors. And to build on that, grammar is important in scholarly and professional writing. Readers of academic texts and professional documents expect grammatical correctness, and finally and probably most important is that grammar is learnable. It can be learned through practice and getting feedback over time.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Errors are Not the Enemy!

Errors are:

  • Evidence of learning
  • Often difficult to 100% eradicate
  • Just one way to assess writing
  • Something all writers experience

Audio: When talking about grammar, we often hear the phrase, grammar errors. However, errors are not the enemy in writing, and there are actually some really positive ways to look at grammar errors. They are evidence of learning, for example, in acquiring language, children and adults often go through a series of stages of making errors and being able to correct them by trying out different structures, sometimes incorrect structures, and then getting feedback so that they're able to fix them. Additionally, errors are really difficult to entirely eradicate because there is always a chance that we, as writers, might make errors as we're drafting and revising and changing ideas and sentences around. Focusing on errors is only one way to assess writing. Of course, there are other essential elements to effective academic writing, such as presenting ideas in a clear and logical order, meeting the requirements of the assignment, or even crafting a strong argument. And finally, errors are something that all writers experience. Even professional writers regularly work with an editor or a colleague or somebody to get feedback and catch some of the minor proofreading issues or errors.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Review: Simple Sentence Structure

Audio: So, with that we'll begin today's session with a quick review of simple sentences which I mentioned was the focus of our first webinar in the series, and you can always check that out if you'd like more information.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Simple Sentence Structure

Basic sentence structure:

Subject + Predicate.

Subject: Who or what is responsible for the action of the sentence

Predicate: What the subject does or is.

Period at the end

Audio: Simple sentences have three main elements. The first is the subject, which comes, you know, in the first part of the sentence in English. The subject is who or what is responsible for the action, and so to figure out what the subject of a sentence is, you can ask yourself who or what did the action. The next part is the predicate. The predicate explains what the subject does or is, and it always includes a verb, which is an action word like discuss or find, or a stated verb like "is" or "feel." Then at the end a sentence always needs punctuation. In academic writing, the most common punctuation is a period, but you might also use question marks for research questions or other questions in your writing. And other punctuation like exclamation points are very rare in academic writing so you probably won't use them much in your time at Walden.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Review: Simple Sentences

Subject + Predicate.

Examples:

  • I am a master’s student.
  • Tom retired after 30 years of teaching.
  • All of the employees will attend the retreat.

Audio: Let's take a look at some examples. In these examples, you can see the order of elements is always the same, subject and then predicate, and then punctuation, of course.

So, we have I am a master's student. The subject is "I" and you can use that strategy I mentioned on the previous slide and ask, who or what did the action. Who is a master's student? I am. The verb am, is underlined and then the rest of the information after the verb is part of the predicate and it explains more about what "I am."

Tom retired after 30 years of teaching, again we have three main elements, subject is Tom, predicate "retired after 30 years of teaching" and punctuation is a period at the end. The final example looks a little different, you might have noticed the subject is longer than one word and this is totally normal. Sometimes the subject is a phrase like this one, all of the employees. And you'll also see subjects that are the name of can a company or a group or include more information about the person or the thing doing the action. In this case, the group, employees, is the main subject and then there are a few more words explaining more about this group. So, all of the employees will attend the retreat.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Why Combine Simple Sentences

  • Too many short sentences in a row can seem choppy.
  • Simple sentences can be redundant.
  • Combining sentences allows your writing to become more sophisticated.

I am often busy and tired, and I struggle to

meet my deadlines. Because I also struggle to

fulfill my other obligations, I need to work on

my time management skills.

Audio: And what we'll focus on for the rest of this webinar is how to go beyond creating and using simple sentences and combining them to make compound and complex sentences, which I will introduce shortly. There are a few great reasons to go beyond simple sentences, and actually really to use a variety of sentence structures. One is that too many short simple sentences in a row can make the writing seem choppy and cause redundancy. Using a variety of sentence structures can help your writing seem more sophisticated. And then let's take a look at this example.

I am often busy and tired. I struggle to meet my deadlines. I also struggle to fulfill my other obligations. I need to work on time management skills.

So, in this case we have four simple sentences all in a row. And this is an instance where it could seem a little bit choppy or redundant. So, making just a couple of small adjustments and combining a couple of the sentences, we can really improve the flow of ideas, so I'm often busy and tired and I struggle to meet my deadlines because I also struggle to fulfill my other obligations. I need to work on time management skills.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Compound Sentences

Combining independent clauses

Audio: We will start by discussing compound sentences, which are created by combining independent clauses. If the phrase independent clause is not something that you normally use or know about, don't worry because I'll explain.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Independent Clauses

Independent Clauses

=

Complete sentences

I am often busy and tired.

I struggle to meet my deadlines.

Audio: The phrase, Independent Clause, is just kind of the technical grammatical way to refer to a complete sentence. And later we'll differentiate between independent clauses and dependent clauses, but for now we'll focus on independent clauses. So, here are a couple of examples, and they might look familiar. I am often busy and tired. I struggle to meet deadlines. So, they're independent clauses, they’re simple, complete sentences, they communicate a complete idea, which is a really important part of an independent clause. So, they don't need extra information or another phrase to make them seem complete. They can function on their own.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Compound Sentences

Combining two independent clauses:

  1. Use a semicolon

I am often very busy and tired; I struggle to meet my deadlines.

Incorrect: I am often very busy and tired; and I struggle to meet my deadlines.

Audio: To create compound sentences, we just combine two independent clauses or complete sentences in one of a few ways. One option is to use a semicolon. A semicolon can replace the period between two simple sentences. When you use a semicolon, you do not need to add any other words to the sentence other than switching out the period for a semicolon. So, in this case right now, two separate sentences, each one has a period at the end. We could swop out the period for a semicolon to create a compound sentence, so I'm often very busy and tired; I struggle to meet my deadlines. One thing to note is that semicolons are only used between two independent clauses with related ideas, so it would not be appropriate to use a semicolon between two independent clauses if the ideas are not closely related.

Also, in the box at the bottom, notice that only the semicolon is needed. We don't need to add any extra words, we don't need to add "and" or anything else and a semicolon can just swap out that period.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Compound Sentences

Combining two independent clauses:

  1. Use a comma + a coordinating conjunction

I am often very busy and tired. I struggle to meet my deadlines.

Audio: Another way to create a compound sentence is to add a comma and a coordinating conjunction. Coordinating conjunctions are connecting words like "and, but, so, or yet" and so let's take a look at an example.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Compound Sentences

Combining two independent clauses:

  1. Use a comma + a coordinating conjunction

I am often very busy and tired, and I struggle to meet my deadlines.

Incorrect: I am often very busy and tired, I struggle to meet my deadlines.

Audio: We could similarly combine these two sentences by adding a comma and a coordinating conjunction, in this case the word "and." Do note both of the pieces are needed, the comma and coordinating conjunction. Just one of them is not enough. So, in the incorrect example here at the bottom of the slide, the comma is not sufficient. A comma is really not strong enough to connect these two sentences, so it needs the help of the coordinating conjunction.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Compound Sentences

Independent clause . .                                                Independent clause

;

, for

, and

, nor

, but

, or

, yet

, so

Audio: So, here’s kind of our model or structure for creating these compound sentences like I discussed. When connecting two independent clauses, you can use a few different options. Of course, you can just use them separate if that’s what you think is most appropriate in that instance and use a period between them. Or you could use a semicolon between them to connect them, and remember the semicolon, you just need that and you don't need to add anymore words. If you use a comma though, you need to add a coordinating conjunction as well. So, there are seven coordinating conjunctions in English, for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so, and one easy way to remember them is to read the first letter from top to body it spells out Fan Boys, this is something that I learned back in 7th grade and it has served me well so that I can remember all of the coordinating conjunctions.

 

Visual:  Slide changes to the following: Practice:

Choose one of the options below. Combine

the simple sentences to form a compound sentence.

  1. The discussion post is due on Wednesday. The

reflection paper is not due until Sunday.

  1. Interviews are one way to collect data. They allow

researches to gain an in-depth understanding of participants.

Audio: All right, so let's take some time to practice making compound sentences. On the slides I have two sets of simple sentences, you can use any one of the connecting strategies we discussed for compound sentences to make the two sentences into one, and I'll just give a minute or two for you to enter into the Chat Box, and of course keep in mind that there is not just one correct answer and there are many options. So, I'm just going to mute for a minute, please do try out combining one or two of the sentence pairs.

[Pause as students type]

Great. I think everyone has a good grasp of how this works and I just pulled a few of the answers over to the Notes Pod on the bottom‑left corner so that we could just take a look at them. I think you all covered all of ‑‑ you know, the majority of the options that we have in connecting these sentences, so in Number 1, we have the "discussion post is due on Wednesday, yet the reflection paper is not due until Sunday. So, we have the comma and coordinating conjunction. The second one we have a comma and coordinating conjunction, a different one, we used yet or and. And of course, the decision for what kind of connector word, or which coordinating conjunction to use, you'll be able to decide that based on the relationship you're trying to show. So really a lot of this, you know, once you get kind of the basic structure down, is making those decisions as a writing what message you want to communicate.

And of course, we can combine them with a semicolon as well, and similarly for number two, we can do a comma and a coordinating conjunction, and we can do a semicolon. Great. Looks like everyone's got a really good handle on compound sentences.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Complex Sentences

Combining independent & dependent clauses

Audio: All right, so next then we'll talk about complex sentences. Complex sentences consist of an independent clause, which we talked about as a complete sentence and a dependent clause which is an incomplete sentence.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Dependent Clause

Independent clauses

=

Complete sentences

I am often very busy and tired.

I struggle to meet my deadlines.

Audio: So, as we discussed, an independent clause is a complete sentence, and we have our examples. I'm often very busy and tired. I struggle to meet deadlines.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Dependent Clause

Dependent clauses

=

Sentence fragments

Because I am often very busy and tired, I struggle to meet my deadlines.

*A complete sentence needs (a) a subject, (b) a verb, and (c) a complete idea.

Audio: And then when talking about complex sentences, we also need to talk about dependent clauses. We might also call those sentence fragments. Basically, they're partial sentences that cannot stand on their own. As we said in talking about complete sentences, we said they need a subject, a verb, and a complete idea. And a dependent clause is missing that part about the complete idea.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Dependent Clause

Dependent clauses

=

Sentence fragments

Because I am often very busy and tired, I struggle to meet my deadlines.

*A complete sentence needs (a) a subject, (b) a verb, and (c) a complete idea.

Audio: You can you see the example on the slide "because I'm often very busy and tired, when we read or hear that on its own, it seems incomplete. We need more information to have a complete idea. Because I'm often very busy and tired...what? And we can see in this example that it's connected to an independent clause, so it then seems complete because I'm often very busy and tired, I struggle to meet my deadlines.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Subordinating Conjunctions

Many (but not all) dependent clauses use them. They join a subordinate clause to a main clause and establish a relationship between the two.

after

Before

though

although

How

unless

as soon as

If

until

as long as

in order to

When

as though

Once

Whether

because

Since

While

*Subordinate means that the clause does not express a

complete idea, even if it contains a subject and predicate.

Audio: Dependent clauses often begin with a type of word that we call a subordinating conjunction which is different then what we talked about in the first part of the webinar with coordinating conjunctions. So, subordinating conjunctions are words that show relationships between ideas. You can see some examples on the slide. But this isn't a complete list. There are many others. Subordinate means that the clause does not express a complete idea even if it has a subject and predicate. Let's take a look at some examples.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Complex Sentence

Main (independent) clause

(simple sentence)

+

Dependent clause/phrase

(incomplete sentence)

Audio: I'm sorry, we'll take a look at some examples on the following slides. Before that, we'll just look at the structure of complex sentences. So complex sentences include a combination of independent and dependent clauses. The independent clause is sometimes what we call the main clause, and the dependent clause or phrase is the incomplete sentence that adds ‑‑ you know, helps add to the meaning of the sentence and can help show the relationship between the ideas. The main clause can come either at the beginning or the end of the sentence.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Complex Sentences: Basic Models

Introductory

Dependent phrase/clause, Main clause

Ending

Main clause Ø Dependent phrase/clause

Audio: So, there are two main structures for complex sentences, the dependent clause can come at the beginning followed by a comma followed by the main clause. Or it can be switched around, the main clause followed by the dependent clause. Do notice that in the second example, no comma is needed. So, if the dependent clause comes first, a comma is needed between the two. If it comes second or at the end, no comma is needed. And sometimes we call this, you know, introductory where the dependent clause is at the beginning or ending where the dependent clause is at the end.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Complex Sentences: Basic Models

Dependent: If I can not find the article         Independent: I will contact a librarian

If I can not find the article,                            I will contact a librarian.

I will contact a librarian                                 If I cannot find the article.

Audio: All right. So, in this case, the dependent clause is "if I cannot find the article" and the independent clause is, "I will contact a librarian." So we have the dependent clause first in the top example, if I cannot find the article, comma, I will contact a librarian. Or if an independent clause comes first, I will contact a librarian if I cannot find the article, then no comma is needed. Both options are grammatically correct. It's just one needs a comma and one doesn't.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice:

Choose one of the options below. Combine

 the independent and dependent clauses to

 form a complex sentence.

  • Because he submitted his resume after the deadline
  • The applicant was not considered for the job
  • Depending on the traffic this morning
  • Alan may be late in the meeting

Audio: All right. So, based on what I talked about, we have another practice. You can choose one or both of the options below and combine the independent and dependent clauses to form a complex sentence.

[Pause as students type]

Fantastic. I'm seeing many correct answers in the Chat Box, which is great. I copied and pulled a couple of them over to the Notes Area, so as I think most of you already figured out, we can arrange them in a couple of different ways, and depending on how we decide to arrange them, then we need to decide if we need punctuation. So, in the first example the applicant was not considered for the job because he submitted his resume after the deadline. We have our independent clause and then a dependent clause, so no comma is needed in the middle. In the second example under Number 1. Because he submitted his resume after the deadline, comma, the applicant was not considered for the job. And so again, we're just swopping those as to which one comes at the beginning and which one comes at the end. Because we started with a dependent clause, we need a comma.

And then for the second example, Allen may be late to the meeting depending on traffic in the morning. So, in that case, no comma is needed and I think somebody probably put in the Chat Area here, depending on traffic this morning, comma, Allen may be late to the meeting, and so those ‑‑ both options work just fine. Again, as we talk about which one to ‑‑ what structure we need to follow depending on which one we put first, just kind of knowing the structures, knowing what the possibilities are, allows you as a writer to kind of be strategic about those decisions that you make so there may be times where it makes more sense to start with a dependent clause and other times when it makes more sense to start with an independent clause depending on how you want the ideas to flow, or any other factors maybe to vary your sentence structure so that not all the sentences follow the exact same structure, that kind of thing. Great.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice: Revising Sentences

Audio: All right. Now we've covered both compound sentences and complex sentences, so I want to give a couple more options for practice, and that is what we'll do here.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice:

Choose one of the passages below. Revise

the sentence to avoid the sentence structure or punctuation error.

My mother and grandmother were both teachers, I have

always wanted to be a teacher too.

Hannah is moving to Australia; because she got a job teaching in Sydney.

Audio: So, choose one of the passages or both and revise to avoid the sentence structure or punctuation error. So, you could follow what we talked about for compound sentences or complex sentences.

[Pause as students type]

Great, so I see a good variety of examples. Sometimes using compound and sometimes using complex. I did copy and paste a few of them over in the notes area so we have an option of making a compound sentence with the example number 1, where we can use a comma and a coordinating conjunction or semicolon as in, my mother and grandmother were both teachers, comma, and I have always wanted to be a teacher too.

The other option if you want to kind of show a relationship or maybe a compound sentence can sometimes show a different relationship or better show a relationship is to say something like, I've always wanted to be a teacher because my mother and grandmother were both teachers. That's a great option as well.

And then for the second example, we could ‑‑ let's see, both of these are complex sentences using the subordinating conjunction because ‑‑ of course if we took out that relationship word "because" we could also say that Hannah is moving to Australia, semicolon, she got a job teaching in Sidney. Again, just kinds of depends on what you need to or want to communicate. Great.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice:

Choose one of the passages below. Revise

the sentence to avoid the sentence structure or punctuation error.

The company offers its employees 3 weeks of vacation

per year; and it also provides full health insurance.

I studied the violin as a child, I no longer remember how to play.

Audio: I think we just have one more practice, so I switched the slide and we have a couple of new examples here and I'll give a minute or two so that you can take a look and decide how you could restructure them.

[Pause as students type]

Great. Thanks again for sharing all of your ideas. There were many correct options, and I just picked a few of them to bring over to the Notes area. So, the first example we could create a compound sentence in the example presented on the slide we have both a semicolon and coordinating conjunction. But we need either just a semicolon or comma and coordinating conjunction. We don't need both semi colon and a coordinating conjunction. 

And I did see a question come in to the Q&A Area about why choose a semicolon instead of a comma or, you know, just keeping the sentences separate? And that's a great question. Semicolons are probably used more like a once in a while type of punctuation, and so it's really ‑‑ semicolons are ideal for a situation when the ideas in the two independent clauses are very much related, and so in that case, you could use a semicolon. You probably don't want to use semicolons in every paragraph or every sentence, but when there is kind of a unique situation where you're really presenting two ideas that are very much related, you want to kind of add in a little bit of a variety of sentence structure and not have compound sentences with ‑‑ or not have the same kind of sentence structure over and over again, then semicolons can be a great option.

All right, and then for Number 2, I see a number of examples that you all typed out about using a comma or coordinating conjunction like "but" I played the violin as a child, but I no longer remember how to play. Or creating a complex sentence, something like, although I studied the violin as a child, comma, I no longer remember how to play. Great. I'm seeing many correct examples. There are many option, and then we just get to decide based on what we want to communicate.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Review

  • To combine two independent clauses:
    • Use a semicolon
    • Use a comma and a coordinating conjunction

John is from Antigua; his family still lives there.

John is from Antigua, and his family still lives there.

  • To combine an independent clause and a dependent phrase/clause:
    • Use a comma after introductory clauses
    • Do not use commas before dependent clauses at the end of a sentence.

After I graduate, I hope to start my own business.

The students are in detention because they skipped class.

Audio: All right. Kind of wrapping everything up as a little bit of a review, when we have simple sentences and maybe we decide we have too many simple sentences or we need to make a change, we can combine two of them. We can combine two independent clauses using a semicolon or using a comma and a coordinating conjunction. We can also combine an independent clause and a dependent phrase or clause, and we need to use a comma after the introductory clauses when that dependent clause comes at the beginning, and we do not need to use a comma before the dependent clause if it's at the end of the sentence.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Review

Independent clause . .                                                Independent clause

;

, for

, and

, nor

, but

, or

, yet

, so

 

I have a paper due today. I also have a final project due next week.

I have a paper due today; I also have a final project due next week.

I have a paper due today, and I also have a final project due next week.

Complex Sentences

Dependent phrase (incomplete sentence), Independent Clause (complete sentence)

Independent Clause (complete sentence) Ø Dependent Clause (incomplete sentence)

Unless the rain stops soon, the festival will be canceled.

The festival will be canceled unless the rain stops soon.

Audio: I know that all of this can be a bit much to remember, and also just kind of, you know, once you're gone and are carrying on with your day, you might think back, in which case did I need to use a comma and which one not? One thing you can do is you can download, from the Files Pod here in the webinar, our handout on ‑‑ let's see which one is this one called? I think it's Compound and Complex Sentence Cheat Sheet, so you can find that there. And that way you can just have it on your computer and can you print it out if you want to have it in your office or wherever you are normally writing or working.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Tools & Tips

Audio: All right.

 

Visual: Tips

Identify the most common patterns in your writing.

1. Analyze a paragraph or two of your work.

2. Pay attention to feedback you receive from faculty or Writing Center staff.

3. Keep a grammar journal to keep track of common issues.

4. Use Grammarly.

5. Ask for help!

Audio: And then just to follow up, proofreading, a lot of the minor errors in sentence structure, we can catch during the proofreading process. So, I wanted to include a few tips to identify the most common errors in your own writing so that you are able to catch and fix them on your own.

The first is to, especially right now as you have this fresh in your mind after the webinar, open up a draft from something you recently wrote and analyze a paragraph or two of your work. You might look for things like certainly the structures that we talked about, correct compound and complex structures, and also maybe note what kind of sentence variety you have. Is it a lot of simple sentences? Do you use a lot of complex sentences? Would your work benefit from having a little bit more variety?

You can also pay attention to feedback you receive from your faculty or Writing Center Staff, you're here at one of our Writing Center Webinars so you're probably familiar with some of our other offerings. One of them is to make an appointment with one of our staff writing instructors to get some feedback on your work, and so if you do that and we definitely encourage you to try it out if you've never done it, take a look at what they comment on. Is grammar a common pattern of error, or maybe there are some other patterns of error to look out for.

Another option is to keep a grammar journal to keep track of what kinds of errors you're making. That is also available in the Files Pod under Handout Grammar Journal, and I'll talk a little bit more about that on the next slide.

Another option is to use Grammarly. Grammarly is a program that's available to all Walden students for no extra cost. It is a software tool that can help you check your writing at the sentence level so it can help identify issues with grammar and syntax or sentence structure. It's also just important to keep in mind that it's a tool and it's best used in, you know, along with other proofreading strategies. It also doesn't really have the human intuition that we have about language, so it's just important to kind of consider all of the feedback provided by Grammarly, but also keep in mind what you know about language and make decisions about changes to make. And it's best for writers who maybe only have occasional errors. If you have common sentence‑level errors in your writing, it may not actually be very helpful, it may be a bit more confusing.

You can also ask for help. You're here, which is great at one of our live webinars and we're happy to have you. You're also welcome to email us and just reach out in whatever way you think works out best for you.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Tool: Grammar Journal

Download from the files pod!

[An image of the Walden Writing Center Grammar Revision Journal: Example]

Audio: All right, I mentioned the grammar journal and it's available to download from the Files Pod, but this is just a way to keep track of any types of error that may be frequent in your writing and also for you just to have that example and record of errors to help you look back and see, okay, well I made this error and this is how I fixed it, and maybe make a note to yourself about the rule. I have talked to a number of writers who have used a grammar journal and really find it helpful just to help them notice what might be going on in their writing. And all of those files like I mentioned are kind of toward the bottom, right‑hand screen on the webinar presentation, and what you do is just click on something to highlight it and then click the Download Files Button right below.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions:

Now: Let us know!    ·          Anytime: writingsupport@waldenu.edu

Continue the conversation on Twitter with #wcwebinars

Learn more about sentence structure:

Check out the other webinars in this series: “Mastering the Mechanics Part 1: Simple Sentences” and “Mastering the Mechanics Part 3: Beyond Basics”

Audio: And with that I think I will hand it back over to Claire.

Claire: Thanks so much, Amy. And thank you for that wonderful presentation. Students, we have a few minutes left over here for questions, so if do you have any lingering questions for Amy and myself, then please go ahead and send them to the Q&A Box now. Additionally, if you have questions that come up after the webinar or if you're watching the recording, then you can write to us at writingsupport@waldenu.edu, or connect with us on Twitter and we’ve also got links for  a couple of different grammar webinars in this series, so if you enjoyed this webinar and grammar is something you want to focus on, these would also be excellent choices. Additionally, I linked out in the Q&A Box to everybody to a great webinar, Amy talked a little bit about, engaging Sentence Structure and how the same sentence structure over and over can be a little boring for the reader, and we have a whole webinar just dedicated to kind of working on that more engaging sentence structure, so once you have the grammar aspects down that's a really great place to go and learn more and get some practice in writing more engaging sentences as well.

All right, and I have a question about passive voice. I can talk about it or Amy, if you want to take a minute to talk about it, we can do that since we have some time.

Amy: Sure. I mean, we didn't cover passive voice in this webinar. Did you want to go ahead and answer the question, Claire?

Claire: Sure. So, we don't ‑‑ we do have several webinars that touch on passive voice because it's less of an issue where it's grammatically incorrect and more of a APA preference and a clarity issue because basically, passive voice means it's unclear in your sentence who is doing the action. Like the reports were filed, and we don't know who filed them, so that's what they mean when they talk about passive voice. And I believe we talk about it in several of our APA webinars, and we do have a Web Page on it which when I'm done talking here I can try to pull up the link or you can send us a question about it via the email and they will respond with a link as well. So, yeah, passive voice is much more of a APA consideration rather than something that's strictly speaking, grammatically incorrect.

Amy: Thanks, Claire. I do see another question that just came in and I think it's a great question. I'll read it here. So, I understand that a comma is optional if using a dependent clause at the end of the sentence. Are there times when it would be beneficial to use the comma when the dependent clause is at the end of the sentence? And that's a great question because it's not required, but like the question presented, would it be beneficial? So, this kind of depends on the context. Commas are also used for, you know, for other reasons. One of them being if you're kind of intending to show that you are adding on kind of an extra idea that maybe a nonessential idea to the sentence. So, it gets ‑‑ without some examples, it can seem a little bit maybe in the weeds or a little bit confusing, but kind of from a stylistic point of view, there may be times when it would be appropriate and beneficial to use a comma before a dependent clause, and it might indicate something a little subtly different to the reader. So, let's see. Kind of the difference being something like, I went to the conference because I'm interested in the topic, that's where we might have no comma. Whereas if I were communicating something like, I went to the conference, because I'm interested in the topic. Kind of almost like an add‑on or so that subtle difference may not be something that we use so much in academic writing because we tend to be a little bit more straightforward in academic writing, but I do hope that that maybe helps answer the question, and I don't mean to add more confusion but, again, it may be more of for an add‑on or stylistic kind of thing.

Claire: Thanks so much, Amy. Yeah, and that's a whole different kind of debate, is the stylistic aspects of commas. And especially in other types of writing that's not academic writing, you'll probably see them used a lot differently and while they might technically be correct, they're more for like subtle emphasis like you were just sort of talking about which isn't very common in academic writing because we're trying to be as straightforward as we possibly can be. So, my recommendation too, if you're wondering about that placement in academic writing specifically, would be to pay attention while you're reading for your coursework to how they're using punctuation and try to mimic that type of style in your own writing.

All right. Well, I don't think we have any other questions so we can go ahead and wrap up a little bit early today. I do have one final question for Amy, actually. And that is what advice would you give a writer who really feels like they're struggling with grammar and feels like it is endless?

Amy: Oh, great question. I mean, I think for such a writer, I mean, I think you would be doing something like all of you are attending are already doing, investing some time in checking out resources and getting feedback because just the nature of learning, we don't necessarily know that we're making errors when we're making them, so if I write and make a certain kind of grammar error, you know, I likely don't realize that I'm doing it so the best strategy then is to get feedback from somebody who knows better than I do, and so that can be something like making an appointment with one of our writing center professionals, one of the writing instructors, and just investing some time in, you know, resources like this. And finally, I would say keep reading. I know that all of you are reading extensively in your coursework, but really kind of noticing, even like Claire had mentioned, noticing how authors in your field use grammar and also noticing other language features, so you know, what kinds of phrases do they use to introduce ideas and what kind of grammatical structures do they use in different sections? So really the more you read, the more that you will kind of just take in and better understand how the ideas are communicated in an academic context.

Claire: Thanks so much for that great advice, Amy. And I want to be reassuring as well. Amy and I have both studied other languages, so we know how hard it is and, you know, kudos to all of you who are getting degrees in a language that might not be your first language because it can be really hard and seem like it's never going to get easier, but it really will if you're willing to put in the time and effort and we're here for you, you know, so come in and make a Writing Center appointment and watch the rest of the webinars in this series.

All right, so we're going to go ahead and wrap up a little bit early today. Thank you so much for coming everybody and thank you Amy. Again, use any of that contact information for us on this question slide if do you have additional questions. Please download and use the handouts. The recording of this will be posted in a day or two. Thank you so much for coming and have a great rest of your day.