Techniques of SENTENCE COMBINATION

DISCOURSE MARKERS in ENGLISH SENTENCES

Christine Bauer-Ramazani

 

DISCOURSE MARKERS are used to combine clauses or to connect sentence elements.  Each discourse marker indicates a particular meaning relationship between two or more clauses.

 

Four types of DISCOURSE MARKERS are used in combining English sentences:

1.      COORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS (see I. below),

2.      CONNECTORS (adverbials, conjunctive adverbs; see II. below),

3.      SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS (see III. a + b below),

4.      PHRASE LINKERS (prepositions; or ADJ + PREP; see IV. below).

 

Sentences consist of COMPOUND and COMPLEX sentences:

COMPOUND SENTENCES 1.  using CONJUNCTIONS (coordinating conjunctions, double conjunctions) --see I. and II.
  2.  using CONNECTORS (adverbials, conjunctive adverbs) -- see II. A., B., C.
COMPLEX  SENTENCES 3.  using SUBORDINATORS (subordinating conjunctions) -- see III. a + b

                         

Prepositions or Adjective + Preposition combinations introduce PHRASES (see IV. below)

 

I.  COORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS (coordconj.): informally known as the FANBOYS or BOYFANS

Conjunction Meaning Conjunction Meaning
       F  =   for       
       A  =  and  
       N  =  nor
REASON
ADDITION

NEGATIVE ADDITION
      B  =  but
      O  =  or
      Y  =  yet
      S  =  so
CONTRAST, CONCESSION
CHOICE
CONCESSION;
unexpected result
RESULT, CONSEQUENCE

 

Coordinating conjunctions are discourse markers that join two INDEPENDENT clauses, which are set off by a comma.

 

      independent clause 1      , coordconj  independent clause 2       .

     S + V                                                 S + V

 

     EX.:  We arrived late, so we waited in the hall.

                                          (coordconj)


II.  CONNECTORS (Adverbials, conjunctive adverbs)

     Connectors are discourse markers that also join two INDEPENDENT clauses, but with a semicolon (;) or a period (.).  They can occur in three positions in a sentence: initial (beginning) position, medial (middle) position, and final (end) position.  Good writers/speakers use the position of discourse markers to give particular emphasis to the element that immediately precedes the connector.  They also make sure that they vary the position of the discourse markers to avoid monotony.  The punctuation is different, depending on the position of the connector.

     A.  INITIAL (BEGINNING) POSITION: The connector is positioned at the beginning of the second clause.

 independent clause 1   ; connector,  independent clause 2  .

     S + V                                           S + V

 

 independent clause 1   Connector,  independent clause 2 .

     S + V                                            S + V

EX.:     We were late for the lecture; therefore, we waited in the hall.
            We were late for the lecture.  Therefore, we waited in the hall.

     B.  MEDIAL (MIDDLE) POSITION: The connector is positioned in the middle of the second clause, usually between subject and verb.  In this case, the subject is emphasized and contrasted.
 

          independent clause 1       ;  S  , connector, V + C     .

 EX.:    George and Harry are best friends.  George spends his free time reading twentieth century American short stories; Harry, on the other hand, is more interested in sports and physical exercise.

     C.  FINAL (END) POSITION: The connector is positioned at the end of the second clause.

      independent clause 1       ;  S + V + C      , connector.

EX.:     George spends his free time reading twentieth century American short stories; Harry is more interested in sports and physical exercise, on the other hand.

    MEANING RELATIONSHIPS expressed by connectors:

1.  RESULT  2.  CONTRAST 3.  ADDITION 4.  EMPHASIS
 ______; therefore, ____   ______; however, ______ ______; in addition, ______     ______; in fact, _______
 ; thus,  ; in contrast,  ; furthermore,      ; as a matter of fact,
 ; consequently,  ; on the other hand,  ; moreover,  ; indeed,
 ; as a result,  ; instead,  ; besides,             
 ; hence, ; rather,  ; additionally,  
5.  CONCESSION
(unexpected result)
6.  TIME 7.  SIMILARITY 8.  NEGATIVE CONDITION
______; however, _____  _______  .  First, _______  ______; similarly, ______  _____; otherwise, ____
 ; nevertheless,   .  Second,  ______; likewise, ______  
 ; nonetheless,   .  Afterward,    
 ; still,   .  After that,    
    .  Later,    
                      .  Then / Next,  
9.  NEGATIVE EMPHASIS 10.  MAIN IDEA 11.  EXAMPLE 12.  CONCLUSION 13. RESTATEMENT
 ____; on the contrary, ____ On the whole, For example, In conclusion,  ____; in other words, _______
  In general, For instance, To conclude,   ; that means (that)
  Generally, To illustrate, In summary,  
  Generally speaking,   To summarize,  
      As we have seen,  
      In short,  

III.  SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS (SUB)

Subordinating conjunctions are discourse markers that join a dependent (subordinate) clause to an independent (main) clause.  There are two patterns (a. and b.) for positioning the dependent clause and therefore two patterns of punctuation.

 

     a.   independent clause        SUB  dependent clause        .
       S + V                              S + V
OR

     b.   SUB + dependent clause   ,  independent clause         .
           SUB + S + V                    ,  S + V

EX.:  a.  We waited in the hall because we arrived late for the lecture.

         b.   Because we arrived late for the lecture, we waited in the hall.

 

NOTE: With because it is recommended to identify the REASON and the RESULT first in order to avoid a mix-up (incorrect meaning relationship):

         a.        RESULT           because + REASON   .

 

         b.   Because + REASON     ,      RESULT       .

 

     Again, the SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS are used to signal different MEANING RELATIONSHIPS.

1.  REASON/CAUSE 2.  CONTRAST 3.  CONCESSION (unexpected result) 4.  TIME 5.  PURPOSE
because , while although after so that
since , whereas even though before  
as (usually used with a comma in front in Pattern a.) even if when  
due to the fact that   despite the fact that while  
now that   (though) since  
CAUSE/ EFFECT   in spite of the fact that as  
so...that   (often used with a comma in front in  Pattern a.) as soon as  
such...that     until   
such a...that     by the time that  
      whenever  
      the next time  
6.  CONDITION/RESULT 7.  SIMILARITY 8. DESCRIPTION/
IDENTIFICATION
(Relative Pronouns)
9. EMBEDDED STATEMENTS/QUESTIONS
If..., (then) just as who that
whether (or not)   whom what
when   that how (much/many, often, long)
In case that   which who(m), which, whose
Provided that   whose when
Unless   when where
    where whether (or not), if

IV.  PHRASE LINKERS (prepositions or ADJ + PREP combinations)

Phrase linkers are transitions that are often used at the beginning of a sentence.

_____________________  .  PHRASE LINKER   (NP)    ,  S  +  V  +  C  .
                (item #1)                                                   (item #2)
 

1. CONTRAST 2.REASON 3. ADDITION
In contrast to _____, _____ Because of _____, _____

In addition to _____, _____

different from due to  
unlike as a result of  
4. SIMILARITY 5. CONCESSION
(
unexpected result)
6. TIME
Similar to _____, _____ Despite _____, _____ Before / after _____, _____
like in spite of until
    since
    during

EX.:  Due to our late arrival at the lecture, we had to wait in the hall.
                           
(NP)

In contrast to western societies, eastern societies stress the importance of community.
                              
(item #1)                 (item #2)

Before Sigmund Freud, psychology was not considered an academic subject.
                   
(NP)

Practice using discourse markers: Grammar Check -- Transitions, Connectors
Problems that occur with sentence combination: Comma splices, run-on sentences, and fragments More practice: Fragments--Recognizing Complete vs. Incomplete Sentences, Identifying a Dependent Clause, and Edit the Sentences.

2005: Christine Bauer-Ramazani; last
updated: January 4, 2013