Level - 6.3 Style - Sentence-Combining
Sentence-combining exercises can be very frustrating
(and therefore harmful) to some older students who are suddenly asked to
do such exercises with complicated sentences. Even many adults view written
sentences as set in stone. Thus the very idea of changing them opens an
entirely new perspective. Such exercises are both more comfortable and
more effective if they are introduced early and done at least once or twice
every year (with increasingly more sophisticated sentences. Currently,
KISS introduces them in Level 1.4 - Coordinating Conjunctions and Compounds.
The exercises in this section on combining with adjectives were originally
in KISS Level 1.2, but were removed in the process of a reorganization.
Perhaps they should be put back there. They may be particularly helpful
for primary school students.
KISS uses two types of sentence-combining
exercises. "Directed" exercises require students to combine sentences
using a specific construction. Some of these exercises are in the booklets
on the construction. You will also find this type of exercise in KISS Level
6.2 --"Style- Focus, Logic, and Texture." In
that collection, students use combining exercises to explore how different
combinations affect focus, logic, and texture. The objectives of "directed"
exercises are 1.) to stretch students into using combinations that they
may not have previously, and 2.) to get students thinking of the stylistic
implications of the different ways of saying basically the same thing.
This booklet contains "free" combining
exercises, based on passages from texts. Normally for these exercises,
the original text has been chopped into shorter sentences. The students
are asked to rewrite the passage "in a better way" without changing the
basic information in the text. The objective of these exercises is also
twofold. First, they are intended to give students practice with combining,
but combining in a way that suits their own sense of style. Second, if
the students' revisions are shared in class, students can again see stylistic
Both Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, two highly
respected child psychologists, have argued that cognitive mastery entails
the ability to reverse a mental process. Thus KISS also contains decombining
exercises. Having students create combining exercises by decombining
sentences in passages and correctly punctuating their new versions
is an excellent activity. [If you think decombining is easy, just
ask students to do it and see what happens.]
Note that some of these exercises include
some sentences to be combined, and some to be decombined. Another excellent
way to use many of these exercises is to give students the decombined version,
have them combine it, then discuss and analze the original. Then have them
rewrite it for readers at different age levels, for example, sixth gradrs
and high school seniors. Or you could have them rewrite it so that it sounds
best to them (readers at their own level).
A green background in the
right (grade-level) column indicates that the exercise is in the printable
Combining and Decombining Exercises
Level 1 - Adjectives
| Some exercises need to be revised to a format
of 5 sentences to combine and 5 to de-combine.
Level 1 - Combining Finite
3 - Combining Clauses
|Don't forget that these de-combining exercises can also be used as
challenging analysis exercises.
"Free" Combining Exercises
Fanu, J. Sheridan. "Squire Toby’s Will"
|These are part of a model study of syntax, texture, and literary interpretation.
For more details, see the Table of Contents.