Common mistakes in combining sentences

Combining sentences is a method to help you reduce sentence redundancy, avoid repeated words, shorten the length of the sentence, and make you essay more concise. However, combining sentences is sometimes tricky, and it will affect the meaning of the sentence if you combine incorrectly.

When I took a look on your homework about combining sentences practice, I found some common mistakes that most of you ever made.

1. Lack of given information

Some of you when combining sentences ignore some details that are also given. It’s not a good practice of combining because the meaning of the merged sentence may change. You can change word forms or sentence structure, but you cannot change the meaning. Since the sentence lacks of some information, your point of view/idea/perspective may not be fully expressed.

For example, when you combine these sentences:

The presentation does not need to be formal.
You do not need to provide us with an agenda or notes.
You could wear casual clothing.
You could join us for informal questions and answers.

Some of you just ignore some given details such as “You could join us for informal questions and answers.” or “You do not need to provide us with an agenda or notes.” They are the details, so they are necessary. Don’t ignore them. Try to combine everything given to you so that the meaning of the merged sentence is still the same as the given sentences.

2. Inappropriate word choice

We have so many ways to connect sentences; one of them is using conjunctions. Also, we have so many conjunctions to link the sentences, so we have to be careful of choosing the most appropriate word which is suitable for the context of the sentences.

For example, if you combine these sentences:

Radar scanning is valuable.
It will detect modern waterways lying near the surface in arid areas.
Geologists believe this.

You can see the meaning of these sentences shows the reason why geologists believe that radar scanning is valuable. Why? BECAUSE “It will detect modern waterways lying near the surface in arid areas.” So, for this case, we must use the conjunctions showing reason such as because, since, hence, etc.

However, for this example:

St. Valentine is the patron saint of lovers.
St. Valentine was never married.

This example shows the contrast in the meaning: “saint of lovers” but “never married”. Therefore, we have to use the conjunctions expressing contrast such as however, but, although, though, etc.

3. Inappropriate word form and sentence structure.

Sometimes, when you combine sentences, you have to change the form of some words for grammatical correction, for instance, verbs to nouns or verbs to gerunds. Also, you have to make sure that the sentence structure is correct when you want to use compound sentences, condition sentences, or relative clause to combine sentences.

For example:

A man stood, looking down.
He stood upon a railroad bridge.
The bridge was in northern Alabama.
He was looking down into the water.
The water was twenty fete below.
The water was swift.

Some of you when combing these sentences forgot the word form, so this is your mistake: “A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama looking down into the water…” In this sentences, there’s no main verb, and contains grammatical mistake (underline). Thus, you have to change one of the two underlined verbs into another form to make it accurate. The correct sentence will be: “A man standing upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama was looking down into the water…”

So, be careful of word form!

4. Changing the meaning of the original sentences

Some of you when shortening the sentences accidentally change the meaning of the original sentences that will total change the whole meaning of the new one. Go back to this example:

The presentation does not need to be formal.
You do not need to provide us with an agenda or notes.
You could wear casual clothing.
You could join us for informal questions and answers.

Some of you rewrite these sentences like this: “You don’t need to be formal to provide us with an agenda or notes…” Be careful! What doesn’t “need to be formal” here is “the presentation”, not “you”, so don’t change the original meaning.

5. Comma splice, run-on, fragment sentences

I think it is the most common mistake among all of you. We have the handout of comma rules and textbook to avoid run-on and fragment sentences, so please take a look on them. They are necessary sources for you to be proficient in writing.

The list above is some common mistakes I found in your homework of combining sentences. Just keep in mind that when combining sentences, you have to cut off repeated words or phrases, not all the words that you think they are not important. A correct merged sentence has correct word form, has the subject and the main verb(s), has appropriate conjunctions, has a well-organized structure, and has no repetition.

Combining sentences is an important technique in writing, especially writing essay. I hope that you can accomplish this technique someday. Good luck!

Ammie.

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