SAT Test Prep

CHAPTER 15
ESSENTIAL GRAMMAR SKILLS

Lesson 15: Coordinating Ideas

Complex and Compound Sentences

Many sentences contain more than one complete idea, or clause. These are called compound sentences (if the individual clauses can stand alone as sentences) or complex sentences (if one or more of the individual clauses cannot stand alone as sentences). The ideas in sentences must coordinate logically with each other.

Example:

As we walked in the door, Bernie jumped all over us.

This is a complex sentence because the first clause, As we walked in the door, cannot stand alone as a sentence. This is called a dependent clause. The second clause, however, Bernie jumped all over us, is an independent clause, and can stand alone as a sentence.

He was very excited to see us: we had been away for nearly a full hour!

This is a compound sentence because the two clauses are independent.

Run-On Sentences


If two independent clauses are joined only by a comma, this is an error called a run-on sentence or a comma splice. (A run-on sentence isn’t just a sentence that’s too long!) To join two independent clauses in one sentence, you must use a colon (:), a semicolon (;), or a conjunction like but, or, yet, for, and, nor, or so.(Mnemonic: BOYFANS)


Here the two clauses are joined with the conjunction but. This changes the meaning slightly from the previous version; it emphasizes the contrast between the group of courses in the first clause and the single course in the second clause.

The colon is more appropriate than a semicolon here, because the second clause explains the first.

The Colon and Semicolon


The semicolon (;) is used primarily to join two closely related independent clauses in a single sentence. When using a semicolon to join clauses, make sure they are independent; that is, they can stand alone as sentences.


A semicolon or a conjunction should be used to join the clauses, but not both.


The colon (:) is used in much the same way as a semicolon is used, but it also implies that an explanation will follow.


This sentence is a bit ambiguous: did the meeting go well because of the successful presentation, or for another reason?

This makes the relationship between the clauses clearer: the second explains the first.

Concept Review 15: Coordinating Ideas

1. When should a semicolon be used to join clauses?

2. When should a colon be used to join clauses?

3. What is a run-on sentence?

4. Name the seven conjunctions that can join independent clauses.

Write a sentence that logically and concisely incorporates the given clauses, with the first clause as the main clause.

5. Confederates in the Attic has received widespread critical acclaim. It was written by Tony Horwitz. It portrays the legacy of the Civil War in the modern South. It is poignant and funny.

6. Many of the rights given by the Constitution were bitterly contested by the Founding Fathers. Many people believe that the Founding Fathers agreed unanimously to safeguard those rights for us. The Constitution is much more a political compromise than a steadfast commitment to a set of ideals.

7. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has been largely disproven. It claims that our thoughts are guided and limited by constraints on our language. Scientists now understand that having thoughts and expressing them are very different things.

8. Corporations can effectively control the opinions of the people through the media. They can do this to a large degree because the people don’t believe they are being manipulated. This happens in free and democratic societies. Unlike totalitarian societies, free and democratic societies do not use force to ensure popular compliance.

Worksheet 15: Coordinating Ideas

Make any necessary corrections to the following sentences to coordinate the clauses logically and concisely.

1. Standardized test results can help measure the progress of individual students, and they are far less able to measure the effectiveness of entire school systems.

2. A consistent program of vigorous aerobic exercise maintains cardiovascular health, it also helps your brain to work more effectively.

3. If the Mets could just get some consistent relief pitching; they might be able to put a winning streak together.

4. We never should have bought the plane tickets, and it would have been much easier to drive.

5. The convention was not the success they had hoped it would be, their lead presenter came down with the flu; the salesman who had to fill in had never given a presentation in front of an audience.

6. Since 1998, the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been the deadliest since World War II, it has claimed over 3.3 million lives.

7. Mrs. Donovan seems to inspire every one of her students to achieve; she inspires them despite having to manage classes that sometimes number over 35 students.

8. The lab took us twice as long to complete as any of our other labs; but it was also the most worthwhile.

Answer Key 15: Coordinating Ideas

Concept Review 15

1. when the two clauses are independent and are very closely related

2. when the two clauses are independent and the second clause explains the first

3. a sentence that joins two independent clauses without a colon, a semicolon, or a conjunction

4. BOYFANS: but, or, yet, for, and, nor, so

5. Tony Horwitz’s book Confederates in the Attic, a poignant and funny portrayal of the legacy of the Civil War in the modern South, has received widespread critical acclaim.

6. Although many people believe that the Founding Fathers agreed unanimously to safeguard our rights in the Constitution, many of those rights were bitterly contested by the Founding Fathers; in fact, the Constitution is much more a political compromise than a steadfast commitment to a set of ideals.

7. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which claims that our thoughts are guided and limited by constraints on our language, has been largely disproven, and scientists now understand that having thoughts and expressing them are very different things.

8. Even in free and democratic societies, corporations can effectively control the opinions of the people not through force, as totalitarian societies do, but through the media, largely because the people don’t believe they are being manipulated.

Worksheet 15

1. Standardized test results can help measure the progress of individual students, but they are far less able to measure the effectiveness of entire school systems.

2. A consistent program of vigorous aerobic exercise maintains cardiovascular health and helps your brain to work more effectively.

3. If the Mets could just get some consistent relief pitching, they might be able to put a winning streak together.

4. We never should have bought the plane tickets; it would have been much easier to drive.

5. The convention was not the success they had hoped it would be; their lead presenter came down with the flu, and the salesman who had to fill in had never given a presentation in front of an audience.

6. Since 1998, the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been the deadliest since World War II, claiming over 3.3 million lives.

7. Despite having to manage classes that sometimes number over 35 students, Mrs. Donovan seems to inspire every one of her students to achieve.

8. The lab took us twice as long to complete as any of our other labs, but it was also the most worthwhile.