Compound Sentences Share More Than One Related Idea

They Help You Polish Your Writing

Simple sentences contain just a single subject and predicate. While you’ll use simple sentences in a large amount of your writing, you’ll find that using only these short statements can cause your written work to sound choppy.

There are also some times when you have more information to share than a simple sentence can convey. In these cases, you’ll want to use compound sentences, which require you to make a few minor adjustments to the structure and punctuation you use.

compound sentences - FANBOYS rule

What Is a Compound Sentence?

Sentences are made up of clauses, which are a group of words that have a relationship to each other along with a subject and a verb. Compound sentences contain two or more independent clauses that share related ideas. You can often quickly spot a compound sentence by looking for connecting words such as “and” that join the two clauses together. Sometimes, a semicolon is used to communicate that the next clause is beginning.

What Are Some Examples of Compound Sentence?

Looking at compound sentence examples helps you to start recognizing how you use them in your writing. Most likely, you’ll find that you’ve been using these types of sentences on your own, but being able to know when you are makes it possible to avoid common mistakes, such as using the wrong type of punctuation.

Read through these examples of a compound sentence to see if you can spot the independent clauses along with their coordinating conjunctions.

  • I really need to go to school, but I’m too sick to sit in class.
  • I am trying to save my money, yet I really want to go to the movies.
  • He had a car accident, so he had to spend all of his money on repairs.
  • She was busy, so I told her I would call back later.
  • Dogs are excellent pets, for they are loyal and obedient.

What Is the Difference Between a Compound and Complex Sentence?

It’s pretty easy to confuse compound and complex sentences with each other because they both contain multiple clauses. The easiest way to tell these two sentences apart is to remember that compound ones have two independent clauses. A complex sentence has one clause that is dependent upon the other. Here’s an example of a complex sentence

  • Because I am busy right now, we will proofread your paper later.

In this sentence, the clause, “because I am busy right now,” wouldn’t make any sense without the following portion of the sentence. With a compound sentence, both clauses should be able to make sense on their own.

How Do You Use Coordinating Conjunctions?

Coordinating conjunctions are simply words that help to create a smooth transition between the two independent clauses. You’ll often hear people use the mnemonic FANBOYS to help them remember when and how to use coordinating conjunctions. FANBOYS stands for the words for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so.

What Is The FANBOYS Rule?

There is also an interesting rule regarding FANBOYS that you can use to help you know how to punctuate these sentences. The general rule that you want to follow is to always put a comma before the before the conjunction when there are two independent clauses.

Sometimes, you’ll see these words used in sentences that aren’t compound ones. In those cases, you can leave the comma out. For instance, you don’t need a comma in the following simple sentence.

  • My mom and dad are both coming to the choir concert.

How Do You Use Semicolons Instead of Conjunctions?

You also have the option of joining the two independent clauses without using a conjunction. If you opt out of using one of the FANBOYS, then you’ll need to join them with a semicolon.

You can read these compound sentence examples to get familiar with how a semicolon works between the two conjunctions.

  • Ahmed made a birthday cake; Josiah helped decorate it.
  • Libraries are my favorite place to look for books; They have the latest bestsellers there.
  • He paid the bill today; His monthly subscription would have ended otherwise.

What Are Conjunctive Adverbs?

When you use semicolons in compound sentences, you have the additional option of using conjunctive adverbs to make an even smoother transition. Conjunctive adverbs include the following words.

  • however
  • meanwhile
  • therefore
  • besides
  • afterward
  • at least
  • for example

A conjunctive adverb comes after the semicolon. Then, you’ll place a comma after the word that you choose. Here are a few examples of conjunctive adverbs in action.

  • It was a grueling marathon; however, Hayley was up to the challenge.
  • There were heavy rainstorms in the area; therefore, no one could drive on the flooded roads.
  • You’ll need to pack several important pieces of clothing; for example, you’ll need a heavy coat.

How Do You Create Polished Compound Sentences?

When written right, these types of sentences have the ability to make your writing clearer and more succinct. However, you can get carried away with using too many clauses, which makes your sentences seem like run-ons.

You’ll also want to make sure that the coordinating conjunctions that you choose make sense in the sentence. For example, the conjunction “and” works well for connecting two similar ideas. The word “nor” compares a negatively contrasting idea, which is a lot like the opposite of “and”. Substituting one of these words for the other could lead to confusion for the reader.

You naturally form compound sentences as you speak, but it helps to brush up on the grammar rules for writing them properly. Many declarative sentences fall within the compound category, since you might need to use two independent clauses to make a full statement. You can also use compound ones to create an imperative sentence that has further clarification or more than one command.

Now that you understand how these sentences work, try finding them in a book or news article that you are reading. While you will often find ones with coordinating conjunctions scattered throughout most written works, ones that use semicolons tend to be more rare. Have fun on your compound sentence hunt, and remember to check out how other writers use conjunctive adverbs and punctuation to create smooth transitions as they share their ideas.