Every sentence pattern below describes a different way to combine clauses. When you are drafting your own papers or when you’re revising them for sentence variety, try to determine how many of these patterns you use. If you favor one particular pattern, your writing might be kind of boring if every sentence has exactly the same pattern. If you find this is true, try to revise a few sentences using a different pattern.
NOTE: Because nouns can fill so many positions in a sentence, it’s easier to analyze sentence patterns if you find the verbs and find the connectors. The most common connectors are listed below with the sentence patterns that use them.
In the descriptions below, S=Subject and V=Verb, and options for arranging the clauses in each sentence pattern given in parentheses. Connecting words and the associated punctuation are highlighted in brown. Notice how the punctuation changes with each arrangement.
One independent clause (SV.)
Try this: Look for sentences in your own text that have only one clause. Mark them with a certain color so they stand out.
Two or more independent clauses. They can be arranged in these ways: (SV, and SV.) or (SV; however, SV.)
Connectors with a comma, the FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
Connectors with a semicolon and comma: however, moreover, nevertheless, nonetheless, therefore
Example compound sentences:
One independent clause PLUS one or more dependent clauses. They can be arranged in these ways: (SV because SV.) or (Because SV, SV.) or (S, because SV, V.)
Connectors are always at the beginning of the dependent clause. They show how the dependent clause is related to the independent clause. This list shows different types of relationships along with the connectors that indicate those relationships:
Examples of complex sentences:
Two or more independent clauses PLUS one or more dependent clauses. They can be arranged in these ways: (SV, and SV because SV.) or (Because SV, SV, but SV.)
Connectors: Connectors listed under Patterns 2 & 3 are used here. Find the connectors, then find the verbs and subjects that are part of each clause.
Try this: Use a fourth color to highlight the compound-complex sentences in your text (the ones with at least two independent and at least one dependent clauses).
Look at the balance of the four different colors. Do you see one color standing out? Do you notice one missing entirely? If so, examine your text carefully while you ask these questions: