Neither my mother nor

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Let's switch texts again. This snippet is one long elaborate sentence from Wonder, by R. J. Palasio.

This is the kind of sentence we'll look at in a different set of lessons about constructing complex sentences, but given that we started this lesson with verbless fragments, it's good to see how far we can go.

What word groups are used in this snippet?

Neither my mother nor my father could come see the play on opening night: my mother because she had this thing at work, and my dad because his new wife was going to have her baby any second now, and he had to be on call.


There are a few things you might like to notice

First, this snippet has a bit of everything, noun groups, verb groups, prepositional phrases, an adverb group. The only word group we don't see are adjectives, except for the one embedded in 'opening night'.

These groups appear in patterns we've already seen: mostly Noun-Verb-Noun + Prepositional Phrase.

You might notice the heavy use of modal verbs in the verb groups—this snippet is all about people's intentions and obligations, which is exactly what we use modal verbs to talk about.

(You might also notice that 'any second now' is one of those qualifiers that looks and acts like a prepositional phrase, but is technically an adverb group. In our examples below, we're going to switch this for a prepositional phrase because that gives us more options.)

Here are some examples that use the same basic pattern:

Neither soccer nor cricket were sports of any interest; soccer because it was a low-scoring game at best, and cricket because the shortest match was bound to go for six hours at least, and he wasn’t going to just stand around in the summer sun.

Neither Tansy nor Berto were able to break the magic seal on the old oak door; Tansy because she had never studied ward magic of this ancient variety, and Berto because he had a migraine from the troll fight, and he couldn’t enchant with any accuracy.

We're going to rewrite this.

If it looks overwhelming, just go one clause at a time, using the connectives 'and' and 'because' as waypoints, because each clause is just a variation on the noun-verb-noun + prepositional phrase pattern you've seen plenty of times before.

Write your own version. Use the same conjunctions, and the same pattern of word groups.