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Punctuation and Sentence Building Help (page 3)

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Sep 14, 2011

Compound-Complex Sentences

You will understand why compound-complex sentences require punctuation after you read some examples. Begin by noting that compound-complex sentences contain at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. For example:

    Though Rachel usually prefers watching tennis on TV, she watched the World Series, and she enjoyed it very much.

According to the previous definition, you should be able to find two independent clauses in the sentence:

  1. she watched the World Series (independent clause)
  2. she enjoyed it very much (independent clause)

You also should find at least one dependent clause.

    Though Rachel usually prefers watching tennis on TV (dependent clause)

Now, what about the punctuation? The introductory, dependent clause requires a comma. As you know, a compound sentence formed by combining two independent clauses with a conjunction also requires a comma. So this compound-complex sentence required two commas. Look at another example:

    I had planned to drive to work on good weather days, but I couldn't drive on any day, because my car was in the repair shop for so long.

In this case, the word because follows a negative verb phrase, couldn't drive. The because clause explains why the event didn't occur. The comma before because clarifies that because refers to couldn't and not to drive.

Find the two independent clauses:

  1. I had planned to drive to work on good weather days
  2. I couldn't drive on any day

Find the dependent clause.

    because my car was in the repair shop for so long

Mike, who walks to the corner each morning for his newspaper, rarely has his newspaper delivered; however, on very rainy days, he regrets that good habit.

Find the two independent clauses.

  1. Mike rarely has his newspaper delivered
  2. on very rainy days, he regrets that good habit

Find the dependent clause.

    who walks to the corner each morning for his newspaper

Why did the original sentence require a semicolon? Recall that when two independent clauses are joined by a longer, transitional word, called a conjunctive adverb, you use a semicolon before the conjunction and a comma after it.

    Road building in the West was dangerous; consequently, when construction began in the nineteenth century, many construction workers died in climbing accidents.

Find the two independent clauses.

  1. Road building in the West was dangerous
  2. consequently, many construction workers died in climbing accidents

Find the dependent clause.

    when construction began in the nineteenth century

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at: Punctuation and Sentence Building Practice

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