Writing is a lot like good music. Sometimes you need to mix it up. While short, concise sentences can pack a staccato punch, sometimes you need to add a little variety to the rhythm of your writing with compound and complex sentences.
A writer creates a compound sentence by joining two complete thoughts (meaning each thought has a subject and verb, and the thoughts could stand all on their own—otherwise known as “independent clauses”).
There are several ways to correctly punctuate a compound sentence (in order to avoid a comma splice or run-on sentence).
|Complete Thought||+ Comma||+ FANBOYS||+ Complete Thought|
|He came to pick her up||,||but||she wasn't ready yet.|
Side Note: The acronym FANBOYS stands for those short connecting words (technical term: coordinating conjunctions) that you use frequently: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.
|Complete Thought||+ Semicolon||+ Complete Thought|
|He came to pick her up||;||she wasn't ready yet.|
|Complete Thought||+ Semicolon||+ Conjunctive Adverb||+ Comma||+ Complete Thought|
|He came to pick her up||;||however||,||she wasn't ready yet.|
Side Note: Some other examples of conjunctive adverbs are however, moreover, therefore, thus, consequently, furthermore, and unfortunately.
You could also use a dash (which shows emphasis) or a colon in place of the semicolon as well.
Click HERE for a refresher on how to correctly use different punctuation marks like semicolons, dashes, and colons.
A writer creates a complex sentence by joining an independent clause (or “complete thought”) and a dependent clause (a.k.a. subordinate clause).
First, let’s define “dependent clause.” It cannot stand alone as a complete sentence (even though it may contain a subject and a verb), and it begins with a subordinating conjunction (because, when, while, after… and many more).
Side Note: If a dependent clause comes first, a comma should follow it. No comma needed if the independent clause comes first (unless you’re trying to show contrast between the two clauses).
|Dependent Clause||+ Comma||+ Independent Clause|
|While I checked my text messages||,||she proofread our group project.|
|Independent Clause||+ NO Comma||+ Dependent Clause|
|She proofread our group project||while I checked my text messages.|