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Grammar Tip Tuesday

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

I am currently teaching my college writing students to use more complex sentences. These are the sentences that have one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

All clauses have a subject and a verb, but a dependent clause cannot stand alone as a sentence.

Sentence variety mimics a good conversation. Using different structures effectively helps you have your best conversation on a page. Knowing how to write and punctuate a complex sentence improves your writing, clarifies your message, and strengthens your image as a good communicator.

So use your SWABI wisely.✔

SWABI is an acronym for Since, When, After, Because, and If

Some dependent clauses begin with one of the SWABI's or (subordinating conjunctions).

Once you use a subordinating conjunction, you make your clause dependent. It needs another part to express a complete idea. That second part must be able to stand on its own as a sentence.

Note: It may sound fine to use subordinating conjunctions as transitions in conversation, but if you wish to be grammatically correct in writing, only use subordinating conjunctions to connect to another clause.

The subordinating conjunction leads the clause and is used to make the connection.

Punctuating Dependent Clauses

If you begin a sentence with a dependent clause, place a comma after it.

*Example After she learned about SWABI, her whole life changed.

But, if the sentence were to end with the dependent clause, don't place a comma before it.

Ex. Her whole changed after she learned about SWABI.

Does this make sense?

If this helped you, let me know. If you have a question, leave it in the comments.

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