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Master the Use of SWABI in English Grammar -Essential Tips from an Expert

There are plenty of acronyms in the English language, and when I began teaching grammar and writing to college students, I also had to teach them about the common acronyms used in grammar, especially if I wanted them to use more complex sentences. SWABI in English grammar are conjunctions that help you correctly vary the types of sentences you use in your writing.

What is SWABI in English grammar?

SWABI is an acronym for so, when, after, because, and if (words that help connect a dependent clause to an independent one).

Here's a quick review of the definition of an independent and dependent clause:

An independent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought. Essentially, an independent clause can stand alone as a sentence.

A dependent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb but cannot stand alone as a sentence.

When joining a independent clause with a dependent one, use a SWABI

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Grarmmar Tip Tuesday Featuring SWABI

Remember: SWABI in English is an acronym for the words Since, When, After, Because, and If that are used as conjunctions (connecting words) in a sentence.

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

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

For example:

complete simple sentence: "I went home."

sentence fragment: "When I went home."

complex sentence using SWABI: "When I went home, I took my dog out for a walk."

How do you know if a sentence is simple, compound, or complex?

If you can recognize the subject and verb in a sentence, you can easily determine if your sentence is simple, compound, or complex.

Can't recognize the subject and verb in a sentence? No problem.

Let's think of sentences as mini-scenes. There will always be an actor and an action in a scene. The clearer the connection between an actor and the action, the clearer the scene.

In a piece of writing, some sentences are simple (one actor and one action).

While others can be compound (two actors and two actions), or complex

(two actions that are interdependent).

*Note: There are also sentences that are both compound and complex.

You will find one of the subordinating conjunctions (SWABI) in a complex or compound-complex sentence.

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Essential Tip for using SWABI in English

Don't use subordinating conjunctions as transitions

A subordinating conjunction will be the first word in a dependent clause. It helps make the connection to an independent one. 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 in the same sentence.

For example you might say, "I'm going to the gym. After I get a coffee." In a piece of writing, you might revise to this: "After I go to the gym, I'm going to grab a coffee."

How to correctly punctuate dependent clauses

Rule #1: If you begin a sentence with a dependent clause, place a comma after it.

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

Rule #2 : If the sentence ends with a dependent clause, don't place a comma before it.

Ex. Her whole life changed after she learned about SWABI.

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.✔


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