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5.6: Coordination and Subordination

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    In the previous section, we learned how to use different patterns to create sentence variety and to add emphasis to important points in our writing. Next, we will examine two ways in which we can join sentences with related ideas:

    Coordination. Joining two related ideas of equal importance.

    Subordination. Joining two related ideas of unequal importance.

    Connecting sentences with coordinate or subordinate clauses creates more coherent paragraphs, and in turn, produces more effective writing. In this section, you will read excerpts from Naomi’s classmate named Joshua, who drafted an essay about wine production. Read this excerpt from Joshua’s essay:

    When the red grapes arrive at the winery, they are destemmed and crushed. The liquid that is left is made up of skins, seeds, and juice. The stems are removed. They contain harsh-tasting tannins. Once the grapes are destemmed and crushed, the liquid is pumped into a fermentation container. Here, sulfur dioxide is added. It prevents the liquid from becoming oxidized. It also destroys bacteria. Some winemakers carry out the fermenting process by using yeast that is naturally present on the grapes. Many add a yeast that is cultivated in a laboratory.

    This section examines several ways to combine sentences with coordination and subordination, using Joshua’s essay as an example.

    Coordination

    Coordination joins two independent clauses that contain related ideas of equal importance.

    Original sentences: I spent my entire paycheck last week. I am staying home this weekend.

    In their current form, these sentences contain two separate ideas that may or may not be related. Am I staying home this week because I spent my paycheck, or is there another reason for my lack of enthusiasm to leave the house? To indicate a relationship between the two ideas, we can use the coordinating conjunction so:

    Revised sentence: I spent my entire paycheck last week, so I am staying home this weekend.

    The revised sentence illustrates that the two ideas are connected. Notice that the sentence retains two independent clauses (I spent my entire paycheck; I am staying home this weekend) because each can stand alone as a complete idea.

    Coordinating Conjunctions

    A coordinating conjunction is a word that joins two independent clauses. The most common coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Note that a comma precedes the coordinating conjunction when joining two clauses.

    Table \(\PageIndex{1}\): Coordinating conjunction

    Independent Clause

    Coordinating Conjunction

    Independent Clause

    Revised Sentence

    I will not be attending the dance.

    for (indicates a reason or cause)

    I have no one to go with.

    I will not be attending the dance, for I have no one to go with.

    I plan to stay home.

    and (joins two ideas)

    I will complete an essay for class.

    I plan to stay home, and I will complete an essay for class.

    Jessie isn’t going to be at the dance.

    nor (indicates a negative)

    Tom won’t be there either.

    Jessie isn’t going to be at the dance, nor will Tom be there.

    The fundraisers are hoping for a record-breaking attendance.

    but (indicates a contrast)

    I don’t think many people are going.

    The fundraisers are hoping for a record-breaking attendance, but I don’t think many people are going.

    I might go to the next fundraising event.

    or (offers an alternative)

    I might donate some money to the cause.

    I might go to the next fundraising event, or I might donate some money to the cause.

    My parents are worried that I am antisocial.

    yet (indicates a reason)

    I have many friends at school.

    My parents are worried that I am antisocial, yet I have many friends at school.

    Buying a new dress is expensive.

    so (indicates a result)

    By staying home I will save money.

    Buying a new dress is expensive, so by staying home I will save money.

    Tip

    To help you remember the seven coordinating conjunctions, think of the acronym FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. Remember that when you use a coordinating conjunction in a sentence, a comma should precede it.

    Conjunctive Adverbs

    Another method of joining two independent clauses with related and equal ideas is to use a conjunctive adverb and a semicolon. A conjunctive adverb is a linking word that demonstrates a relationship between two clauses. Read the following sentences:

    Original sentences: Bridget wants to take part in the next Olympics. She trains every day.

    Since these sentences contain two equal and related ideas, they may be joined using a conjunctive adverb. Now, read the revised sentence:

    Revised sentence: Bridget wants to take part in the next Olympics; therefore, she trains every day.

    The revised sentence explains the relationship between Bridget’s desire to take part in the next Olympics and her daily training. Notice that the conjunctive adverb comes after a semicolon that separates the two clauses and is followed by a comma.

    Review the following chart of some common conjunctive adverbs with examples of how they are used:

    Table \(\PageIndex{2}\): Conjunctive Adverb

    Function

    Conjunctive Adverb

    Example

    Addition

    also, furthermore, moreover, besides

    Alicia was late for class and stuck in traffic; furthermore, her shoe heel had broken and she had forgotten her lunch.

    Comparison

    similarly, likewise

    Recycling aluminum cans is beneficial to the environment; similarly, reusing plastic bags and switching off lights reduces waste.

    Contrast

    instead, however, conversely

    Most people do not walk to work; instead, they drive or take the train.

    Emphasis

    namely, certainly, indeed

    The Siberian tiger is a rare creature; indeed, there are fewer than five hundred left in the wild.

    Cause and Effect

    accordingly, consequently, hence, thus

    I missed my train this morning; consequently, I was late for my meeting.

    Time

    finally, next, subsequently, then

    Tim crossed the barrier, jumped over the wall, and pushed through the hole in the fence; finally, he made it to the station.

    Take a look at Joshua’s essay on wine production and identify some areas in which he might use coordination.

    When the red grapes arrive at the winery, they are destemmed and crushed. The liquid that is left is made up of skins, seeds, and juice. The stems are removed. They contain harsh-tasting tannins. Once the grapes are destemmed and crushed, the liquid is pumped into a fermentation container. Here, sulfur dioxide is added. It prevents the liquid from becoming oxidized. It also destroys bacteria. Some winemakers carry out the fermenting process by using yeast that is naturally present on the grapes. Many add a yeast that is cultivated in a laboratory.

    Now look at Joshua’s revised essay. Did you coordinate the same sentences? You may find that your answers are different because there are usually several ways to join two independent clauses.

    When the red grapes arrive at the winery, they are destemmed and crushed. The liquid that is left is made up of skins, seeds, and juice. The stems are removed, for they contain harsh-tasting tannins. Once the grapes are destemmed and crushed, the liquid is pumped into a fermentation container. Here, sulfur dioxide is added. It prevents the liquid from becoming oxidized and also destroys bacteria. Some winemakers carry out the fermenting process by using yeast that is naturally present on the grapes; however, many add a yeast that is cultivated in a laboratory.

    Writing at Work

    When writing an essay or a report, it is important that you do not use excessive coordination. Workplace documents should be clear and concise, so only join two clauses that are logically connected and can work together to make one main point. If you repeat the same coordinating conjunction several times in a sentence, you are probably including more than one idea. This may make it difficult for readers to pick out the most important information in each sentence.

    Subordination

    Subordination joins two sentences with related ideas by merging them into a main clause (a complete sentence) and a dependent clause (a construction that relies on the main clause to complete its meaning). Coordination allows a writer to give equal weight to the two ideas that are being combined, and subordination enables a writer to emphasize one idea over the other. Take a look at the following sentences:

    Original sentences: Tracy stopped to help the injured man. She would be late for work.

    To illustrate that these two ideas are related, we can rewrite them as a single sentence using the subordinating conjunction even though.

    Revised sentence: Even though Tracy would be late for work, she stopped to help the injured man.

    In the revised version, we now have an independent clause (she stopped to help the injured man) that stands as a complete sentence and a dependent clause (even though Tracy would be late for work) that is subordinate to the main clause. Notice that the revised sentence emphasizes the fact that Tracy stopped to help the injured man, rather than the fact she would be late for work. We could also write the sentence this way:

    Revised sentence: Tracy stopped to help the injured man even though she would be late for work.

    The meaning remains the same in both sentences, with the subordinating conjunction even though introducing the dependent clause.

    Tip

    To punctuate sentences correctly, look at the position of the main clause and the subordinate clause. If a subordinate clause precedes the main clause, use a comma. If the subordinate clause follows the main cause, no punctuation is required.

    Subordinating Conjunctions

    A subordinating conjunction is a word that joins a subordinate (dependent) clause to a main (independent) clause. Review the following chart of some common subordinating conjunctions and examples of how they are used:

    Table \(\PageIndex{3}\): Subordinating Conjunction

    Function

    Subordinating Conjunction

    Example

    Concession

    although, while, though, whereas, even though

    Sarah completed her report even though she had to stay late to get it done.

    Condition

    if, unless, until

    Until we know what is causing the problem, we will not be able to fix it.

    Manner

    as if, as, though

    Everyone in the conference room stopped talking at once, as though they had been stunned into silence.

    Place

    where, wherever

    Rita is in San Jose where she has several important client meetings.

    Reason

    because, since, so that, in order that

    Because the air conditioning was turned up so high, everyone in the office wore sweaters.

    Time

    after, before, while, once, when

    After the meeting had finished, we all went to lunch.

    Take a look at the excerpt from Joshua’s essay and identify some areas in which he might use subordination.

    When the red grapes arrive at the winery, they are destemmed and crushed. The liquid that is left is made up of skins, seeds, and juice. The stems are removed. They contain harsh-tasting tannins. Once the grapes are destemmed and crushed, the liquid is pumped into a fermentation container. Here, sulfur dioxide is added. It prevents the liquid from becoming oxidized. It also destroys bacteria. Some winemakers carry out the fermenting process by using yeast that is naturally present on the grapes. Many add a yeast that is cultivated in a laboratory.

    Now look at Joshua’s revised essay and compare your answers. You will probably notice that there are many different ways to subordinate sentences.

    When the red grapes arrive at the winery, they are destemmed and crushed. The liquid that is left is made up of skins, seeds, and juice. Because the stems contain harsh-tasting tannins, they are removed. Once the grapes are destemmed and crushed, the liquid is pumped into a fermentation container. Here, sulfur dioxide is added in order to prevent the liquid from becoming oxidized. Sulfur dioxide also destroys bacteria. Although some winemakers carry out the fermenting process by using yeast that is naturally present on the grapes, many add a yeast that is cultivated in a laboratory.

    Key Takeaways

    • Coordination and subordination join two sentences with related ideas.
    • Coordination joins sentences with related and equal ideas, whereas subordination joins sentences with related but unequal ideas.
    • Sentences can be coordinated using either a coordinating conjunction and a comma or a conjunctive adverb and a semicolon.
    • Subordinate sentences are characterized by the use of a subordinate conjunction.
    • In a subordinate sentence, a comma is used to separate the main clause from the dependent clause if the dependent clause is placed at the beginning of the sentence.

    Exercise

    1. Combine each sentence pair into a single sentence using either a coordinating conjunction or a conjunctive adverb. Then copy the combined sentence onto your own sheet of paper.
      1. Pets are not allowed in Mr. Taylor’s building. He owns several cats and a parrot.
      2. New legislation prevents drivers from sending or reading text messages while driving. Many people continue to use their phones illegally.
      3. The coroner concluded that the young man had taken a lethal concoction of drugs. By the time his relatives found him, nothing could be done.
      4. Amphibians are vertebrates that live on land and in the water. Flatworms are invertebrates that live only in water.
      5. Ashley carefully fed and watered her tomato plants all summer. The tomatoes grew juicy and ripe.
      6. When he lost his car key, Simon attempted to open the door with a wire hanger, a credit card, and a paper clip. He called the manufacturer for advice.

    Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

    1. Combine each sentence pair into a single sentence using a subordinating conjunction and then copy the combined sentence onto your own sheet of paper.
      1. Jake is going to Mexico. There are beautiful beaches in Mexico.
      2. A snowstorm disrupted traffic all over the east coast. There will be long delivery delays this week.
      3. My neighbor had his television volume turned up too high. I banged on his door and asked him to keep the noise down.
      4. Jessica prepared the potato salad and the sautéed vegetables. Ashley marinated the chicken.
      5. Romeo poisons himself. Juliet awakes to find Romeo dead and stabs herself with a dagger.
    2. Copy the paragraph from Joshua’s essay onto your own sheet of paper. Then edit using the techniques you have learned in this section. Join the underlined sentences using coordination or subordination. Check your revised sentences for punctuation.

    The yeast is added to the must. Alcoholic fermentation then begins. Here, the red wine production differs from the method used in white wine production. Red wine is fermented for a shorter time. It is fermented at a higher temperature. Whereas white whines may ferment for over a month, red wines typically ferment for less than two weeks. During fermentation, contact between the skins and the juice releases tannins and flavor compounds into the must. This process is known as maceration. Maceration may occur before, during, or after fermentation. The fermentation process is completed. The next stage is pressing. Many methods are used for pressing, the most common of which is basket pressing.

    1. Use the coordinator or subordination technique in brackets to combine each pair of independent clauses.
      1. Jackie Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947 to 1956. He was so loyal to the Dodgers that he refused to be traded to their archrival the New York Giants. [Use a comma and a coordinating conjunction].
      2. In 1947, Robinson was the first African American player to play Major League Baseball. Previously, African Americans had only played in segregated, black-only baseball leagues. [Use a semicolon]
      3. Robinson frequently faced racist abuse from opposing teams. Pitchers often pelted him when he was at bat. [Use a semicolon and the transitional phrase furthermore]
      4. In 1948, this abuse eased somewhat. Robinson was no longer the only African American player in the league. [Use a subordinating conjunction of your choice]
      5. To this day, Robinson is honored for his achievement. He is the only player whose jersey number is retired for all players. [Use as semicolon]

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