Complex sentences


Checkpoint piece

Time for a checkpoint piece.

Let’s quickly run through all the different ways we can use supporting clauses to make complex meaning. We can:

  • Add details about an event to create a clearer picture of what’s going on—”Dickon came in smiling”.
  • Give a reason or condition using ‘to’ clauses—“she skipped to catch up”.
  • Add more detail about a person or thing—”an airlock that we’re not going to mess with”.
  • Define something through an event—”whoever has come to save us”.
  • Combine prepositions with events—”he was sent there for being a nuisance”"It's like how sound bounces".
  • Show cause and effect by putting a supporting clause in the subject position—”hearing that false name made him hesitate”.
  • Explore a character’s internal world or suggest the reliability of a piece of information by using a thinking/feeling/perceiving/saying verb—”some people say I will never return”.

Here’s a snippet that uses a range of different types of supporting clause so you can see how some of these things fit together.

Once there was a man who had a donkey, and for years this donkey had carried sacks of grain to the mill without a word of complaint; but now his strength was running out, so he couldn’t work as hard as he used to, and his master thought it was time to stop feeding him.

The Musicians of BremenBrothers GrimmPhillip PullmanSource

Now, write one or more sentences using this image for inspiration.

Try to use at least one of each type of supporting clause. A good way to start is just by just writing something simple and then looking for where you can add more detail.

Your turn

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