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Multiple Ways of Combining Sentences

G10 Logic

Discussion Key
The Original Sentence

They were watching the football game, and they forgot to feed the baby.
 

     The answers suggested below are the most probable, but students will probably come up with additional acceptable possibilities. Although students should probably do the exercise first on their own, the most important part is the class discussion which should lead students to see that the two ideas expressed in the compound main clause can be logically connected in a number of different ways and styles. Note that none of  the revisions is intrinsically better than the original -- unless it better conveys the meaning and style that the writer wishes to express.
     I like to include theoretical possibilities that lead to unnatural (and thus probably unacceptable) revisions. (See #'s 6, 8, and 9.) Class discussions of these can be interesting, Some teachers, however, may want to delete these, especially for students who are doing such exercises for the first time.


Combining as Main Clauses with a Colon or Semicolon

1. Rewrite the sentence using a colon, semicolon or a dash. Indicate whether your version reflects amplification (formal or informal) or contrast.

1a) They were watching the football game; they forgot to feed the baby. [Contrast]
1b) They were watching the football game: they forgot to feed the baby. [Amplification - formal]
1c) They were watching the football game -- they forgot to feed the baby. [Amplification - informal]

I would accept any of the preceding responses. The distinctions in how the colon, semicolon, and dash are used are not always observed by good writers, but they can be a way of leading the reader to see more precisely what the writer has in mind.  Individual readers always perceive texts differently, but in this case, to me, the semicolon suggests a difference between what they were doing and what they should have done. Personally, I would never use a colon or semicolon here, but I can see how some people might see the second clause as an amplification of the first. [That is why I expect students to indicate contrast, amplification -- formal,  or amplification -- informal.]


Combining Using Subordinate Clauses

Use a subordinate conjunction to combine the two sentences to establish the indicated logical connection and focus.
 

One of the signs that a writer is in the process of developing command of subordinate clauses is the introduction of a subordinate conjunction without the deletion of the coordinating conjunction:  When they were watching the football game, and they forgot to feed the baby. Students at this level sometimes need to be reminded to remember to delete the "and."

2. Focus on "were watching"; logical connection = time
 

They were watching the football game, when they forgot to feed the baby.

3. Focus on "forgot"; logical connection = time
 

When they were watching the football game, they forgot to feed the baby.

4. Focus on "were watching"; logical connection = cause/effect
 

They were watching the football game, so they forgot to feed the baby.

It would be possible to say "They were watching the football game, because they forgot to feed the baby," but it sounds awkward or improbable. 

5. Focus on "forgot"; logical connection = cause/effect
 

Because they were watching the football game, they forgot to feed the baby.


Combining Using Semi-Reduced Clauses

6. Rewrite your response to (2) [Focus on "were watching"; logical connection = time] as a semi-reduced clause.
 

They were watching the football game, and they forgot to feed the baby.

You may want to delete this one, as it doesn't work. I like to include it because it leads into a discussion of why it doesn't work.

7. Rewrite your response to (3) [Focus on "forgot"; logical connection = time] as a semi-reduced clause.
 

While watching the football game, they forgot to feed the baby.

8. Rewrite your response to (4) [Focus on "were watching"; logical connection = cause/effect] as a semi-reduced clause.
 

They were watching the football game, and they forgot to feed the baby.

You may want to delete this one also, as it doesn't work. 

9. Rewrite your response to (5) [Focus on "forgot"; logical connection = cause/effect] as a semi-reduced clause.
 

They were watching the football game, and they forgot to feed the baby.

Although this one doesn't work either [Because watching the baby, they forgot to feed the baby???], I like to include it because the temporal connection with "when" does work. 


Combining Using Gerundives

10. Rewrite your response to (6) [Focus on "were watching"; logical connection = time] as a gerundive.
 

They were watching the football game, forgettingto feed the baby.

Some students are likely to observe that a cause/effect connection can be introduced here by adding "thus" or "therefore."

11 Rewrite your response to (7) [Focus on "forgot"; logical connection = time]  as a gerundive.
 

Watching the football game, they forgot to feed the baby.