The Printable KISS Grammar Workbooks The KISS Workbooks Anthology

Sentence-Combining (Compounds)
from Heidi by Johanna Spyri

     In the 1970's and 80's sentence-combining became an educational fad. The idea was to get students to write longer main clauses (w/mc -- words per main clause). The fad has basically died out because the exercises were not geared to an understanding of natural syntactic development. As a few educators finally pointed out, students understood the idea of "longer," but they could not control the grammatical constructions that they were being asked to use. As a result, they made more fundamental errors in sentence structure and punctuation.
     KISS avoids this problem by emphasizing sentence-combining in the context of constructions that students are actually learning to identify. Note the difference in w/mc in the following sentences, based simply on compounding. Spreading a few such sentences through a student's writing not only increases average words per main clause, but it may also add more details -- students may begin to create compounds not just by combining what they would normally write -- they may begin to add new ideas as compounds.

Example: The little Fawn drew near. | She looked at the Prince quietly. | [5.5 w/mc]

The little Fawn drew near and looked {at the Prince} quietly. | [11 w/mc]

Probable Responses

1. He did not speak. | But he kept his eyes fastened [#1] {on the ground}. | [6.5 w/mc]

He did not speak, but kept his eyes fastened [#1] {on the ground}. | [12 w/mc]
2. The grandfather milked a full bowl [#2] {from the white goat}. | He cut a piece (DO) {of bread} {for the child}. | And he told her (IO) to eat [#3]. | [8.3 w/mc]
The grandfather milked a full bowl [#2] {from the white goat}, cut a piece (DO) {of bread} {for the child}, and told her (IO) to eat [#3]. | [23 w/mc]
3. The grandfather put {into the bag} a piece (DO) {of bread}. | And he put in a slice (DO) {of cheese}. | [9 w/mc]
The grandfather put {into the bag} a piece (DO) {of bread} and a slice (DO) {of cheese}. | [15 w/mc]
4. Her face was as red (PA) {as a lobster} [#4]. | Her neck was as red (PA) {as a lobster} [#4]. | And her arms were as red (PA) {as a lobster} [#4]. | [8.3 w/mc]
Her face, neck and arms were as red (PA) {as a lobster} [#4]. | [11 w/mc]
5. She has Adelheid's fine limbs (DO) and black eyes (DO), | and she has curly hair (DO) {like Tobias and the old man} [#5]. | [9.5 w/mc]
She has Adelheid's fine limbs (DO) and black eyes (DO), and curly hair (DO) {like Tobias and the old man} [#5]. | [17 w/mc]
6. Sunshine had come again {into the blind woman's life}, | and it made her days less dark and dreary [#6]. | [9 w/mc]
Sunshine had come again {into the blind woman's life}, and made her days less dark and dreary [#6]. | [17 w/mc]
7. The days are so long (PA), | and they are dreary (PA). | [4.5 w/mc]
The days are so long (PA) and dreary (PA). | [7 w/mc]
8. Miss Rottenmeier yawns {behind her book}. | And Mr. Candidate yawns {behind his book}. | [6.5 w/mc]
Miss Rottenmeier and Mr. Candidate both [#7] yawn together {behind their books}. | [11 w/mc]
9. A boy had a barrel-organ (DO) {on his back}. | And he had a curious animal (DO) {on his arm}| [8.5 w/mc]
A boy had a barrel-organ (DO) {on his back} and a curious animal (DO) {on his arm}. | [15 w/mc]
10. She has curly hair (DO). | She has black eyes (DO). | And she talks {in a funny way}. | [5 w/mc]
She has curly hair (DO), black eyes (DO) and talks {in a funny way}. | [12 w/mc]

Notes
1. One can explain "eyes" as the direct object of "kept" and "fastened" as a gerundive that modifies "eyes." (See KISS Level 4.) At KISS Level 5.8, some people will prefer to see "eyes fastened" as the core of a noun absolute that functions as the direct object of "kept."
2. The best way to explain "bowl" may be as a Noun Used as an Adverb, but I would also accept it as a direct object of "milked." (It depends upon whether one sees it as meaning "how much" or "what.")
3. "To eat" is a verbal (infinitive) that functions as the direct object of "told." "Her" functions simultaneously as the indirect object of "told" and as the subject of "to eat."
4. Some grammarians will probably claim that "as a lobster" is actually an ellipsed subordinate clause -- "as a lobster *is red*." Either way, the construction connects to the previous "as." Note how the uncombined version is more emphatic.
5. Some people will see this prepositional phrase as adjectival to "hair," and others will see it as adverbial to "has." Reasons here can become very technical, so KISS accepts either explanation.
6. Expect students to be confused here. They will sense that the direct object of "made" is "days less dark and dreary," but will not know how to explain that phrase. In KISS Level Four they will learn that "days" is the subject of and "dark" and "dreary" are predicate adjectives to an ellipsed infinitive "to be" -- "made her days *to be* less dark and dreary." The ellipsed infinitive construction is the direct object of "made."
7. Some grammarians will consider "both" to be an adjective, and others will see it as an appositive. [See KISS Level 5.4.]