Wednesday, August 1, 2007

2.11--The beauty, perfection, and symmetry of the subordinating conjunction!

A. Here’s the problem:
Beware—this is an advanced lesson and contains some technical grammar terms. But don’t be intimidated, since the basic idea isn’t that difficult. Not all the information or ideas in a sentence are of equal importance. But if the only conjunctions you use are and, but, and or, you fail to suggest the relative emphasis of the ideas you’re stating. Compound sentences are useful, just as simple sentences are, but at times you need to place emphasis where it belongs by subordinating one part of a sentence to another.

B. What to do:
Many of you overuse relative clauses—those beginning with who, which, and especially that—but don’t use enough subordinate adverbial clauses. The best way to solve the problem is to use an appropriate subordinating conjunction, either at the beginning of the sentence, at the end of the main clause, or between two sentences to combine them. You probably memorized these conjunctions once—although, since, because, if, unless, while, as, and others—but you need to train yourself to use the right one for the situation at hand.

C. Example: Austen is not as critical as Wharton. Austen shows that social conventions can interfere and get in the way of relationships.
Corrected Version: While Austen is not as critical as Wharton, she shows that social conventions can interfere with relationships.

D. Now you try—write corrected versions of the following sentences.
1. Elizabeth reads Darcy’s letter of explanation, she retains a “strong prejudice against every thing he might say.”
2. She realizes that she may have been in the wrong and her sense of pride is replaced by “astonishment, apprehension, and even horror.”

E. For more information or additional practice, check the following sources: