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Coordination & Subordination

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Coordination and coordinating conjunctions...
Coordinating conjunctions allow us to connect
independent clauses of the same level of importance in a
single sentence and avoid paragraphs composed of many
short, repetitive simple sentences. Seven different
coordinating conjunctions allow us to create distinct
relationships between clauses:
and (the most common coordinating conjunction), is
used to combine two similar ideas together:
The mechanic fixed the broken tail-light, and he replaced
the brakes, too.

Note that the above sentence could also be written as a


single clause by leaving out the pronoun "he" and using
the coordinating conjunction "and" to connect, or
coordinate, the two verbs in the sentence as follows "The
mechanic fixed the broken tail-light and replaced the
brakes, too." A coordinating conjunction can connect
words, phrases, and clauses.
but is used to join two contrasting ideas together:
I thought my tail-light was broken, but it was simply
disconnected from the plug.

yet is similar to "but," in that it is used to join two


contrasting ideas; however, "yet" is used instead of "but"
to really emphasize a contrast:
She finally booked a trip to Paris, France, yet she only
plans to stay four days.

or joins two alternative ideas together:


We can go out to dinner with my parents, or we can go to
the movies with Mike and Sumi.

nor joins two negative alternatives together:


My boyfriend does not want to go out to dinner with my
parents, nor does he want to go the movies with Mike and
Sumi.

so is used to join clauses in a cause and effect


relationship, and is similar in meaning to the
subordinating conjunction "hence." Both words indicate
an effect or result of something. However, "hence" has a
more formal tone and subordinates one idea to the other,
while "so" is more casual in tone and maintains equal
importance of the clauses.
At the ticket counter, Manny discovered he had forgotten
our concert tickets, so we had to miss half the show while
we went home to get them.

for is also used to join clauses in a cause and effect


relationship and indicates a reason why something
happens. Thus, "for" is similar in meaning to "because,"
"as," or "since." However, "because," usually suggests
that the reason is the most important part of the idea: "I
got rid of my television because it was destroying my
brain cells." "As" and "since" are usually used to show
that the reason why something happened is not as
important as the main clause, or that the reason is wellknown already: "As you have a television and I don't,
how about I come to your house to watch the NBA

playoffs?" "For" is usually used to indicate that the reason


is an afterthought, an idea that emerges once the first
idea is stated.
I hated listening to her talk, for she spoke in a high nasal
voice.
She refuses to admit she hates her boss, for she dislikes
conflict with anyone.

Coordination creates rhythm and balance, and improves


coherence in a writer's sentences. Compare the following
paragraphs to see how coordination improves the writing:
The realities of the land and its inhabitants obviously color
the fiction of any area, but there is also a literary style that
thrives on exaggeration. The exaggerations of the Texan
comprise a distinct body of folk material, but nowhere has
exaggeration been more artfully cultivated than in
contemporary fiction. (Max Apple, from his Introduction
toSouthwest Fiction, 1980).
Without coordination: The realities of the land obviously
color the fiction of any area. The realities of the people
color the fiction as well. There is also a literary style that
thrives on exaggeration. The exaggerations of the Texan
comprise a distinct body of folk material. Nowhere has
exaggeration been more artfully cultivated than in
contemporary fiction.

Coordination in a series...

Coordinating conjunctions are also used to connect items


in a series. These items can be phrases or single words
(nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs). In any series the
items must be parallel, or coordinate (like) items. For
example,

Mark brought steak, lettuce, tomatoes, and charcoal to our


bar-b-que.
To surprise her mom, Nellie washed the dishes, took out
the trash, and vacuumed the living room.
Michelle liked to eat well but hated to exercise.

Coordination shows that each item in a series is of equal


importance and similar structure. Coordination also
makes the writing easy to follow; having read the first
one or two items in a series, a reader assumes the writer
will follow the established pattern until the conclusion of
the sentence. Notice how coordination makes the
sentences below easy to follow:
Whether the chase involves a car, a horse, a wife, or a
fortune, the quest itself often sbustitutes in Southwestern
literature for the close observation of manners that is
characteristic of a more settled society.

And in the following example, notice how coordination is


used effectively throughout the paragraph to develop the
main idea that Southwestern fiction has its own peculiar
"rhythms and cadences" influenced by Spanish culture:
The story is told in repetitious rhythms and cadences that
are peculiar to the area. There is a touch of the Southern in
this rhythm but the Southwest is, on the whole,
remarkably separate from the literary territory of the
South. The South has the Civil War and slavery as its
unique heritage; the Southwestern motif is distinctly
Spanish. The Indian occupies the tragic center of
Southwestern history and fiction, but it is the Spanish
culture that marks the area with its particular regionalism.

Spanish words are a part of Southwestern language;


Mexican food is almost as pervasive as pizza and
hamburgers. "Remember the Alamo" is still the ringing
phrase of the Southwest, and school children in Texas
celebrate the victory over Mexico on San Jacinto
Day, but the Mexican culture has not been destroyed. . . .
(Max Apple, from his Introduction to Southwest Fiction,
1980).
Subordination...

A subordinate clause depends upon another clause, the


independent clause, to complete its meaning. For this
reason, the subordinate clause is sometimes called a
"dependent" clause. The subordinate clause is identifiable
by the presence of a subordinating conjunction such
as after, although, before, once, and whenever, although
there are many more to choose from. Each subordinating
conjunction establishes a specific relationship between
the clauses, often with subtle and important distinction.
In addition, a subordinate clause can create movement
and style in a piece of writing by directing the reader's
attention ahead in anticipation of the main clause, as in
the following sentence:
Once Simone finishes the final exam, she will join us at the
graduation party

A subordinate clause can also direct the reader's


attention backwards, as in this sentence:
I ate the Col. Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken, extra crispy,
for lunch, although my doctor recommends that I avoid
fried food.

This ebb and flow movement adds variety and emphasis,


helping a writer get away from repetitive and boring
sentences.

Common subordinating conjunctions...

Some common subordinating conjunctions are shown


below and on the next few tabs, along a description of
how they are used:
Cause
"Because," "as" and "since," can all be
used to begin a clause giving the reason
for something happening. However, subtle
differences between these words should
shape how you use them:
"Because" should be used when the reason
because,
as, since

is the most important part of the sentence:


I arrived late because I had a flat tire and
had to call AAA to come and fix it.
"As" and "since" are used when the reason
has already been established:
Since you don't like scary movies, then you
probably shouldn't come with us to
seeSawz.

so that

"So that" is used to indicate the effect or


outcome of something:

So that she wouldn't be late for work, she


set her alarm clock for 6:00 a.m., giving
her an extra half hour to get ready.

ubordinating conjunctions: concession and comparison...

Concession
and
Comparison
although,
though, even
though, as
though

"Though" is the most casual of these


terms used to show contrast. Use
"even though" when you want to
show strong surprise (the word
"even" adds emphasis and is used in
combination with subordinators like
"when," and "if")
Even though the particular causes of
global warming are not clear to me, I
do understand the consequences.
"As though" is used to suggest that
something is highly unlikely to
happen, or should not even be
considered reasonable. It is used in
casual rather than formal writing:
Gabriel asked me out last night, as
though I had shown any interest in

him at all.
"As" is used to show similarities
between things:
As sand falls through an hourglass,
as

so fall the days of our lives.


As a thesis is the controlling idea of
an essay, a topic sentence is the
controlling idea of a paragraph.
"While"and "whereas" can both be
used to show contrast, but not
contradiction. For example,
I have always liked the Rolling
Stones, whereas T.J. only likes their
old stuff.

while, whereas

While white wine is good with fish


and chicken, red wine is better with
meat.
versus
Though I like to go out to eat, I don't
like to go to crowded restaurants.

Condition
even though,
though,
although

Each of these three subordinating


conjunctions is used to indicate a
contrasting condition. "Though" is the

least formal of the three. "Even


though" means "despite that fact
that" and is stronger than "though"
and "although" in emphasizing a
condition for something.
Even though I am exhausted, I have
to study for my biology exam tonight.
"Even if" points to particular
conditions and means "whether or
not." This subordinator is interesting
if, even if

in that it suggests a hypothetical


situation as a condition.
Even if you were rich, I would not go
out with you.
"As long as" is a slightly less formal
version of "provided that." Both

provided that,
as long as

subordinators are used to indicate a


condition for something happening:
As long as you pay your own way,
you are welcome to come along.

unless

"Unless" is used to specify a negative


condition; in other words, unless at
the beginning of a clause describes a
condition that would prevent
something from happening. It is
usually used with verbs in the

present tense to discuss a future


conditional:
We will meet at the soccer field,
unless it is raining.
Unless you can provide an alibi for
your actions at 10:15 last night, you
are under arrest.
Place
where

"Where" identifies the place

wherever

...means no matter where:


"Wherever we went, we could find a
MacDonald's."

Time
"After refers to an event or action
that occurs after another event or
action has occured. (after "a," then
"b"):
after

After you arrive in Hawaii, be sure


and call to let me know you have
arrived safely.
After Angela took the ibuprofen, her
head felt much better.

as soon as, as
long as

"as long as" is used to emphasize a


particular duration of time:

As long as you live in this house, you


will abide by my rules.
"As soon as" is used to point to
something that will happen upon the
completion of something else:
As soon as you finish your dinner, you
may have desert.
"Before" refers to an event or action
that must occur before another event
or action can take place. (before "a"
before

happens, "b" must occur)


Before you leave for Hawaii, you had
better stop delivery on your
newspaper.
"Until" means up to the time, or until
a certain event has taken place.
You cannot watch television until you
clean your room.
I didn't know who the bad guy was

until, till

until the last scene of the movie.


"Till" is similar to "until," though less
formal. It is not often used in
introductory clauses:
Bush said today that we will stay in
Iraq till the war is won.

"Whenever," and also sometimes "if"


and "when," is used to indicate a
repeated occurence of something
when certain conditions arise. For
example,
whenever

When I am in Berkeley, I will be sure


to visit you.
Whenever I drink red wine, I get a
headache.
If I need advice, I will be sure and
call you.

while, as, when "While," "as," and "when" indicate


that things are happening
simultaneously.
As I was printing out my notes for
the meeting, my boss called to tell
me the meeting was cancelled.
"While" is used to emphasize long
duration:
While you were out celebrating, I was
home cleaning the house.
"As" and "when" are used to describe
short events:
The phone rang as I was on my way
out the door.

When you called, I was in the tub.


We also use "as" to show that one
thing is the consequence of another:
As you get older, you get wiser.
We often use "just" in combination
with "when" and "as" to describe
events happening simultaneously, or
almost simultaneously:
Just as she turned to yell at him for
knocking her groceries out of her
arms, he apologized profusely.
Note also that with "while" and
"when," it is perfectly correct to leave
out the subject and the "to be" verb
form, as in the following sentences:
While walking the dog, he listens to
his iPod.
Mrs. Thompson likes to knit when
travelling on the train.
Coordination & subordination to organize an essay...

Coordination and subordination are also essential tools in


planning an essay or research paper. Ideas that support a
thesis can be said to be "subordinate" to that thesis;
similarly, ideas that support the controlling idea of a
paragraph are subordinate to that controlling idea. On
the other hand, ideas at the same level of detail, either
the supporting points of a particular paragraph, or the

supporting paragraphs taken together to support a thesis,


are often "coordinate."
Consider the ways that coordination and subordination
might come into play in the following writing situations:
John is writing an analytical essay about the novel Little
Women. He wants to argue that Laurie and Jo help one
another reject social norms. He has gathered several
examples from the story showing how they encourage one
another to reject conformity, each example illustrating a
different social norm as well as how and why they dismiss
it.
Kevin is writing an essay about the changes that come with
leaving home to go to college. He wants to argue that with
this move, a person faces many unexpected
responsibilities. Kevin has a list of these new
responsiblities he would like to explore in his essay:
managing money, finding the self-motivation to study,
taking care of one's body, and working out new
relationships with friends.
Ellen is writing an article for the school paper to advocate a
no-smoking-on-campus policy. She has several reasons
she wants to bring to her readers supporting her argument:
second-hand smoke is hazardous to non-smokers, smokers
set a bad example and cause others to want to smoke,
cigarette smoke leaves behind a stale and unpleasant odor,
and smokers litter the campus with cigarette butts.

Each of the above examples suggests a clear structure for


a paragraph or essay in that each writer has ideas that
are subordinate to a single controlling idea, and ideas

that are coordinate to each other. When the writer is


aware of the subordinate and coordinate relationships
between ideas, writing the essay is easier, and the final
draft will be easier for the reader to follow. Consider
Ellen's outline for her essay which grew out of her
awareness of the subordinate and coordinate
relationships between her ideas:
Thesis: It is time to implement a no-smoking-on-campus
policy.
1. Second-hand smoke is hazardous to nonsmokers, even outside.
2. Smokers set a bad example, and encourage
others to think about smoking
3. Cigarette smoke pollutes our campus:
(a) subpoint 1: cigarette smoke leaves behind
an unpleasant odor
(b) subpoint 2: cigarette butts create an ugly
mess
Reasons, effects, descriptive details, comparative
elements, and many more elements can be coordinate
elements in sentences developing the main idea of a
paragraph, or as coordinate paragraphs to develop a
thesis (as in the above outline which develops the thesis
through paragraphs exploring reasons).
Look at some examples
Coordination and subordination are processes used by languages to combine
units to make other units. They are part of the basic efficiency of language
through which simple units like phrases and the simple sentence are re-cycled
to make longer and perhaps more complex units.

Before we talk about the methods and purposes of coordination and


subordination, please look over the following sets of examples. What kinds of
grammar items are being coordinated? What kinds of words are used to create
the units? What kinds of grammar items are being subordinated? How do
coordination and subordination interact?
Coordination in a Sociology Textbook Chapter
1. The sociological perspective opens a window onto
unfamiliar worlds and offers a fresh look at familiar
worlds.
2. Sociologists consider people's jobs, income, education,
gender, age, and race.
3. Growing up male or female influences not only our
aspirations, but also how we feel about ourselves and how
we relate to others in dating and marriage and at work.
4. We often think and talk about people's behaviors.
5. Today instantaneous communications connect us with
remote areas of the globe, and a vast economic system
connects us not only with Canada and Mexico but
alsoBelgium, Taiwan, and Indonesia.
Subordination in a Sociology Textbook Chapter
6. Political scientists are especially interested in how
people attain ruling positions in their society, how they
maintain those positions, and the consequences of their
activites for those who are governed.
7. Economists want to know what goods are being
produced at what rate and at what cost, and how those
goods are distributed.
8. The chief concern of anthropologists is to understand
culture.
9. Sociologists also study how people govern one
another.
10. By this, Weber meant that a sociologist's values

should not affect his or her social research.


11. A classic example of an early woman sociologist is
Harriet Martineau (1802-1876), who was born into a
wealthy English family.
12. Transplanted to U.S. soil in the late nineteenth
century,sociology first took root at the University of
Chicago and at Atlanta University, then an all-black
school.
13. At first sociology in the United States was dominated
by the department at the University of Chicago, founded
by Albion Small (1854-1926), who also founded the
American Journal of Sociology, and was its editor from
1895 to 1925.
14. While the above changes in marriage expectations
were taking place, another significant social change was
under way.

Coordination and Subordination


Coordinating conjunctions are used to join independent clauses to
make compound sentences. The coordinating conjunctions are as
follows: and, but, for, nor, or, so, and yet. You can use coordinating
conjunctions to revise run-on sentences and comma splices (see
above). You can also use coordinating conjunctions to make writing
less choppy by joining short, simple sentences. Consider the following
examples.

Independent Clauses: I wanted more popcorn. Sam wanted


Junior Mints.
Joined Together: I wanted more popcorn, but Sam wanted
Junior Mints.

In this example, it is necessary to put a comma before the


coordinating conjunction but because there are two independent
clauses being combined. Another way to think of this is thatI wanted
more popcorn and Sam wanted Junior Mints could stand on their own
as independent sentences. So, there must be a comma and a
conjunction between them.

Independent Clauses: I wanted more popcorn. I didnt want any


more soda.
Joined Together: I wanted more popcorn but no soda.

In this example, weve combined the sentences with the coordinating


conjunction but. Weve also eliminated some of the words so that the
sentence wouldnt sound redundant. In this case, it isnt necessary to
put a comma before but because there are not two independent
clauses joined together.
Subordinating conjunctions are used to join independent clauses to
make complex sentences. The subordinating conjunctions are as
follows: after, although, as, as if, because, before, even if, even
though, if, if only, rather than, since, that, though, unless, until,
when, where, whereas, wherever, whether, which, and while.
You can use subordinating conjunctions to correct run-on sentences
and comma splices. And you can use them to combine sentences so
that writing is less choppy. Consider the following examples.

Complex Sentence: I wanted to get more soda because its hard


to eat popcorn without it.

In this sentence, the subordinate clause is at the end. It would also


be correct to place the subordinate clause at the beginning of the
sentence:
Because its hard to eat popcorn without it, I wanted to get more
soda.
Notice that when the subordinate clause comes at the beginning, its
necessary to insert a comma.

Complex Sentence: While I was getting more soda and


popcorn, I missed a really important part of the movie.
(Subordinate clause at the beginning of the sentence).

I missed a really important part of the movie while I was getting


more soda and popcorn. (Subordinate clause at the end of the
sentence).

Subordination and Coordination


Exercise
Join the two independent clauses to make a compound sentence. Use
one of the coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet).
Remember to use a comma before the connecting word.

He enjoys walking through the country. He often goes


backpacking on his vacations.
He often watched TV when there were only reruns. She
preferred to read instead.
I didn't know which job I wanted. I decided to wait to decide.

Join the two independent clauses to make a complex sentence. Use


one of the subordinating conjunctions (after, although, as, as if,
because, before, even if, even though, if, if only, rather than, since,
that, though, unless, until, when, where, whereas, wherever,
whether, which, and while). Remember to use a comma if the
subordinating conjunction comes at the beginning of the sentence.

I stayed up all night studying for my Algebra exam. I was so


tired all day today.
Jerry and Elaine always go to movies together. They dont go to
movies together when Jerry is dating someone.
Mad Season is a great band.

Answers to Exercises
Fragment Sentence Exercise
Fragment sentences are in italics. Explanations are in parentheses.
Then I attended Morris Junior High. A junior high that was a bad
experience. (dependent clause)
In the seventh grade every young boy goes out for football. To prove
to himself and his parents that he is a man. (dependent clause)
She opened the door and let us into her home. Not realizing at the
time that we would never enter that door in her home again.
(dependent clause)
Making up his mind quickly. Jim ordered two dozen red roses for his
wife. Hoping she would accept his apology. (dependent clause)
They were all having a good time. Until one of Joe's oldest and best
friends had a little too much to drink. (dependent clause)

Run-On Sentence Exercise


Run-on sentences are in italics. Possible revisions to sentences are in
parentheses.

We were really busy at the restaurant tonight. I waited tables straight


through from 3:30 to 11:30 I never sat down for even one break. (I
waited tables straight through from 3:30 to 11:30, and I never sat
down for even one break.)
My dog had to go to the vet today. She cried and cried when they
clipped her toenails, but then she was fine when they gave her a
shot!
The book we had to read for class was really long my teacher doesnt
seem to understand that we have other classes to read for too. (The
book we had to read for class was really long. My teacher doesnt
seem to understand that we have other classes to read for too.)

Comma Splice Exercise


Original sentences are in italics. Possible revisions follow.
I didnt like the movie, it was way too long. Possible revision 1: I
didnt like the movie. It was way too long. Possible revision 2: I didnt
like the movie because it was way too long.
She and Jerry are getting married in the fall, they didnt want a
summer wedding. Possible revision 1: Because they didnt want a
summer wedding, she and jerry are getting married in the fall.
Possible revision 2: She and Jerry didnt want a summer wedding, so
they are getting married in the fall.
My favorite bands are all really loud, playing loud music is good for
stress relief. Possible revision 1: My favorite bands are all really loud;
playing loud music is good for stress relief. Possible revision 2: My
favorite bands are all really loud because playing loud music is good
for stress relief.

Parallel Structure Exercise


Original sentences are in italics. Revisions follow.
The best music is loud, fun, and you can dance to it. Revision: The
best music is loud, fun, and easy to dance to.
Tomorrow afternoon I will shop for groceries, eat lunch with my
brother, and be running all sorts of errands. Revision: Tomorrow
afternoon I will shop for groceries, eat lunch with my brother, and run
all sorts of errands.
That book we read for class was really long, wordy, and didnt make

any sense. Revision: That book we read for class was really long,
wordy, and confusing.

Modifier Exercise
Original sentences are in italics. Revisions follow.
Running for the bus, the rain started coming down in buckets and I
got all wet. Revision: Running for the bus, I got all wet when the rain
started coming down in buckets.
The couch was kind of ugly in the furniture store. Revision: The couch
in the furniture store was kind of ugly.
Having searched and searched for Mr. Right, it started to seem like
he didnt exist. Revision: Having searched and searched for Mr. Right,
I started to think he didnt exist.

Coordination and Subordination


Exercises
Original sentences are in italics. Revisions follow.
Coordination
He enjoys walking through the country. He often goes backpacking
on his vacations. Revision: He enjoys walking through the country,
and he often goes backpacking on his vacations.
He often watched TV when there were only reruns. She preferred to
read instead. Revision: He often watched TV when there were only
reruns, but she preferred to read instead.
I didn't know which job I wanted. I decided to wait to choose.
Revision: I didnt know which job I wanted, so I decided to wait to
choose.
Subordination
I stayed up all night last night studying for my Algebra exam. I was
so tired all day today. Revision: After staying up all night last night
studying for my Algebra exam, I was so tired all day today.
Jerry and Elaine always go to movies together. They dont go to
movies together when Jerry is dating someone. Revision: Unless Jerry
is dating someone, Jerry and Elaine always go to movies together.

Mad Season is a great band. They only put out one album. Revision:
Mad Season is a great band even though they only put out one
album.