Y'all, I get it. Remembering grammar rules is hard stuff especially when your brain is going 90 miles an hour and your fingers are typing away. However, combining sentences correctly will not only make your writing more sophisticated, but it will ultimately make it easier to read. Writing a variety of sentences, adding a semi-colon here or there, and using commas effectively will help bring professionalism to your work and keep readers coming back for more.
So how do you combine sentences?
First things first: it's all about clauses. Independent & dependent ones to be exact. Clauses contain a subject (who or what the sentence is about...aka. a noun) and a verb, and some express a complete thought. Knowing these two basic characteristics will make it easier to decide how and when to punctuate your sentences.
Independent clauses have a subject & a verb, and they express a complete thought. Essentially, an independent clause is a sentence. This is good to know for when you attempt to combine sentences. There are two ways to combine independent clauses: using a semi-colon, or using a comma + a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).
use a semi-colon:
Sprinkles just opened a new location in Atlanta at Lenox Square Mall; they have a cupcake ATM!
or use a comma + a conjunction:
I haven't made it to the storefront yet, but I am excited to try one of their many flavors.
IMPORTANT: You cannot combine two sentences with just a comma or just a conjunction. That will create a run-on, and that is a no-no.
Conversely, dependent clauses also have a subject & a verb, but they DO NOT express a complete thought. This is imperative for punctuation. If the dependent clause comes first, you add a comma after it. A comma is not needed if the dependent clause comes second. (note: the previous two sentences are prime examples of how to punctuate dependent clauses).
use a comma when the dependent clause comes first:
If I step anywhere near a J.Crew, I will certainly leave with a bag in hand.
do not use a comma when the dependent clause comes second:
This same syndrome occurs when I visit Kate Spade.
IMPORTANT: Never use a comma before or after the word because. NEVER!
Whew. Enough with the words and the rules already, right? Truly, remembering how to combine sentences will only make your writing more professional. If you forget every now and then, it's not a huge deal, but taking that extra moment to proofread is worth the tiniest bit of time, don't you think?
For more tips on better blogging, check out my posts on commonly confused words, email etiquette, and continuing your blogger education.