Sunday, October 4, 2009

Writing sentences


SPM ENGLISH
By JUGDEEP KAUR GILL


AS promised last week, we will take a look at sentence types this week.

At the SPM level and beyond, it is crucial that you have some knowledge of the basic sentence types in English.

This is because your choice of sentence types reflects on your ability and maturity as a writer.

For example, if you use only simple sentences in your writing, your writing will not only sound monotonous but also choppy and immature.

Generally, English sentences can be categorised into four types - simple, compound, complex and compound-complex.

A simple sentence, which is also called an independent clause, contains one complete idea.

This sentence can be short or long, depending on the idea that is being conveyed.

Examples:

Vincent walks to school.
Vincent and Edward walk to school.

(This sentence is not a compound sentence as it expresses only one idea i.e. Vincent and Edward walk to school although it contains the conjunction ‘and’)

Edward met me at the train station.
Edward met me at the dilapidated train station near his house at 2 p.m.

(As you can see the second sentence is longer than the first sentence but they are both simple sentences as they express only one idea)

A compound sentence contains two independent clauses that are joined by a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so).

You may use the mnemonic FANBOYS to remember these as each letter represents the initial letter of these conjunctions.

Both the ideas in a compound sentence are related and of equal importance.

Examples:

I watched a movie and my sister did the crossword puzzle.
Kenny wanted to play football but it started raining.
Mary was very happy with the tour guide, so she gave him a big tip.

A complex sentence contains:

one independent clause and
one or more subordinate clauses.

These clauses are connected by subordinating conjunctions or subordinators such as because, although, since, after, when, despite etc. or a relative pronoun such as that, who or which

Let’s take a look at some examples.

Example 1:
I enjoyed the cake that you baked.

In the sentence above, I enjoyed the cake is an independent clause.

An independent clause is a clause that can stand on its own. In other words, it is a complete sentence by itself.

that you baked is a subordinate clause or a dependent clause. A subordinate clause cannot stand alone on its own. It is like an incomplete sentence.

Example 2:
Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was our first Prime Minister, was born in Kedah.

In the sentence above two ideas are combined together. They are:

Tuanku Abdul Rahman was born in Kedah.
He was our first Prime Minister.
Tunku Abdul Rahman was born in Kedah
is an independent clause.
who was our first Prime Minister is a
subordinate clause.

Like a simple sentence, a complex sentence can be short or long as shown in the examples below.

He felt that he was not ready for marriage.
I agreed with her that the blue dress was pretty although I personally felt that it was hideous, to say the least.

A compound - complex sentence contains at least:

two independent clauses and
one or more dependent clauses. These clauses are connected by both coordinating conjunctions and subordinators.

Example 1:
I felt guilty about lying to him, so I
apologised when I finally had the chance.

The sentence above consists of the following clauses:

I felt guilty about lying to him. (independent clause)
I apologised to him. (independent clause)
when I finally had the chance. (dependent clause)

They have been combined using a coordinating conjunction ‘and’ and a subordinator ‘when’

Example 2:
Despite our mutual dislike for each other, we had to put aside our differences and make sure the project was a success because both our careers depended on it.

In the above sentence, several ideas have been combined together. They are:

We disliked each other.
We had to put aside our differences.
We had to make sure the project was a success
Both our careers depended on it.

The ideas have been combined using the following clauses:

Despite our mutual dislike for each other (dependent clause)
we had to put aside our differences (independent clause)
(and) make sure the project was a success (independent clause)
(because) both our careers depended on it. (independent clause)

Other examples:

My sister, who looks like a film star, has won numerous beauty competitions and appeared in several television advertisements.
The proposal, which Mandy had improved on over the weekend, was presented to the directors, but it was rejected because it was too costly.

Sentence Structures

Another important aspect of writing that you should pay attention to is how to write a variety of sentence structures. To be able to do this, you need to know that there are numerous ways of organising words to form a sentence. You also need to understand some basic structures in the English Language and how to use these structures to achieve the effect you want. However, this is something which cannot be learnt overnight but you can learn this to a large extent through extensive reading.

Look at the following structures. All three convey the same idea.

My grandfather is 78 years old and he is an active man.
Although my grandfather is 78 years old, he is an active man.
Despite being 78 years old, my grandfather is an active man.

Here’s another example.

Liza was the eldest and she had to shoulder a lot of responsibilities.
Being the eldest, Liza had to shoulder a lot of responsibilities.
Liza had to shoulder a lot of responsibilities as she was the eldest.

Try to express the following ideas in as many ways as you can.

1. It had rained non-stop for three days and Amir’s village was flooded.

2. The sudden storm caused terrible destruction as many trees were uprooted and roofs of houses blown off.

3. Nazmi refused to admit that he was wrong and this only made his parents angrier.

4. Myra is a gifted child as she can solve Year Six Mathematics problems easily.

5. The movie, Terrible Teens, did very well although it projected teens negatively.

You can check your answers with your teachers or your friends.

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