This section will provide suggestions as well as a description of the combining technique. Generally, a pair of sentences will be provided which include a transformational rule. The rule may consist of a word, phrase, or punctuation mark which can be inserted into the sentence.
Teachers of the elementary grades may find this technique helpful for several reasons. First of all, this technique can be used to illustrate the manipulation of sentences to achieve greater expression of thoughts and experiences. Secondly, the teacher can prepare the student for complex sentence structures in their textbooks and outside readings. Third, teachers can relate the use of the rules of grammar to students’ actual writing without the drawbacks of the text.
Teachers have the option of employing this technique during a reading, English, or Language Arts class. It is recommended, however, that teachers set aside time preceding or directly following the exercises for oral and silent reading. The readings could be teacher-developed or taken from the reading material appropriate for the student’s reading level. Students with learning disabilities may benefit from choral reading of the exercises, but may find the written exercises difficult.
Evaluation of student mastery can be measured by correctness of daily worksheets or weekly texts which require the combining process. An elaborate form of evaluation may include a composition wherein the student uses the technique to include complex sentence structures. It is suggested that the composition be descriptive or expository. The teacher should look for examples of sentence combining, and more specifically the use of subordinate clauses. The number of combined sentences may indicate mastery of this technique.
Ideally, teachers should develop a compositional program which would include many writing assignments and a check list of writing skills to be mastered during the course of the school year. The sentence-combining technique could be only one aspect of the compositional course. Students, therefore, should be able to incorporate this technique as a supplement to already established writing objectives. Such a technique would provide a syntactically mature writing sample. Of course, students write more proficiently with time and practice and sentence-combining enhances that growth process; yet it is unreasonable to expect the type of expansion associated with older and more able students. Research has shown that as students mature, their writing form becomes more complex. Sentence-combining can have an immediate effect on student writing performance when coupled with a thoughtful reading program which provides contexts for the use of the language and illustrates the use of complex structures by accomplished writers.
The following is a list of rules which can be used to teach students the mechanics of sentence-combining. All of the different types of exercises should be worked out orally first and then transferred to paper after students become confident with the technique.
Initially, teachers should teach the constituent parts of a sentence (i.e., doer, action, receiver of action, or subject and verb phrases). Students should then practice combining simple sentences by matching the subjects and predicates. For example: NP = Noun Phrase + VP = Verb Phrase.
John + hit the ball = John hit the ball. Once students are able to see the constituents that make up sentences, they are able to move on to the next step. (Note: Teachers may use the parts of the unit which aid in the development of specific writing skill objectives.) Students should be given practice in combining subjects (NPs) and predicates (VPs).
For example: 1) John lived in that house. 2) Mary lived in that house. 3) John and Mary lived in that house; or 1) Mary fixed the engine. 2) Mary changed the oil. 3) Mary fixed the engine and changed the oil.
The rule in these sentences may be either one of the connecting words found to be most appropriate. A more advanced example would be: 1) John is tired; 2) John cleaned the garage; 3) John is tired, but he cleaned the garage. The referent pronoun
, and conjunction
One of the easiest ways to combine sentences is to put them together with a joining word between. The joining word establishes a relationship between the two constituents of the entire structure. The relationships usually are: 1) cause-effect, 2) time, and 3) comparison or contrast.
Here is an example: He was pleased
his work was completed.
his work was completed.
He was pleased
He was pleased, but somehow disappointed.
Note that a comma is used before the conjunction which can be stressed as a rule applicable to the completion of each item in the exercise. In addition, the semicolon is a punctuation mark which can be used to establish a relationship and connect two base sentences, yet reveal no particular relationship.
For example: He was pleased; his work was completed.
Other connecting words are before, although, after, just when, as soon as, if, and since. The mechanism for including any of the various mentioned here is quite simple. The rule will be seen as a mere instruction to insert that word/words at the end of the first sentence, or beginning of the result or second sentence.
For example: The men went back to work.
The lunch break was over. (When)
the lunch break was over.
The men went back to work
Or students can be taught to put the connecting word before the base sentence, then add the result to the end of the first sentence.
For example: When the men went back to work, the lunch break was over.
Note the comma which was inserted after the base sentence.
Teachers may find it helpful to the student to include as part of the rule, the punctuation mark in addition to the connecting word (when ,).
Another example using
as a joining word is as follows:
1. I am crying. (If) (,)
2. Something is wrong.
3. There is a problem. (;)
If I am crying , something is wrong ; there is a problem.
Note the semicolon is used before the final phrase and that a comma is inserted after ‘crying.’ The comma could just as easily be inserted as a rule after the second sentence.
1) He makes his foul shots.
They are important. (Just when)
2) He makes his foul shots just when they are important.
1) You are aware of all literary devices employed by writers.
2) Reading poetry is more appreciable.
Once you are aware of all literary devices employed by writers, reading poetry is more appreciable.
When / Long before
The rules -ing and with
1. Rain clouds appeared. (When) (,)
We ran into the house.
It was time to end the cookout. (Long before)
2. When rain clouds appeared, we ran into the house long before it was time to end the cookout.
The -ing technique involves changing a word to its -ing form and inserting that word at the beginning of the base sentence.
For example: Terry kicked the door off the hinges. (ing) (,)
Terry was able to go in and put out the fire.
Kicking the door off the hinges, Terry was able to go in and put out the fire.
Note that ‘kicked’ was changed to ‘kicking’ and it began the base sentence. Also, the word ‘Terry’ was left out in the second sentence. Teachers may find it helpful to the student if some notation (i.e., circle, underscore, italics) were used to point out the word/words to be omitted in the combining process. Another means to accomplish this result would be to underscore the part of the base sentence which will be transformed.
For example: Terry
kicked the door off of the hinges
The line indicates that ‘Terry’ is not to be used in the combining process. Another example of the -ing can read as follows:
1. The chunky football player
pounced on the loose ball
. (ing) (,)
2. The chunky football player jumped to his feet, and was quickly tackled.
3. Pouncing on the loose ball, the chunky football player jumped to his feet, and was quickly tackled.
Note that a comma is used before the conjunction
. This is standard practice and should be covered at the outset, otherwise it will be necessary to insert the rule.
The with rule does two things in these sentences dependent upon the sentence it follows. Look at these examples:.
1) She was an intelligent student.
2) She received good grades. (With)
3) She was an intelligent student with good grades.
Note that the words ‘she’ and ‘received’ are omitted. Again notation may be included to advise the student to omit those particular words. Here is another example of how
can be used:
1) His feet
implanted in the mud. (With)
2) He found it was impossible to catch the frog.
3) With his feet implanted in the mud, he found it was impossible to catch the frog.
is at the beginning of the sentence and the form of
(were) is omitted because it is not needed.