Connectors and an introduction to complex meaning

Wrapping up

Putting it all together

Of course, we don't have to be limited to one, or even two, connectors in a sentence.

At first the artisans were too shy to look Ma in the eye. But as he sat and interacted with them, they grew to trust him and soon began singing songs from home as Ma accompanied them on cello.

Bridging cultures and good causes with musicClaudia KalbSource

There's a lot going on in this snippet, so let's break it down a little.

We've got two pairs of actions strung together with 'and', with the actors carried through:

  • He sat and interacted with them.
  • They grew to trust him and soon began singing songs from home.

We also have two instances of the connector 'as' which tell us about timing:

  • As he sat and interacted with them, they grew to trust him.
  • [They] soon began singing songs from home as Ma accompanied them on cello.

And the first connector, 'but', is connecting all that to the previous sentence.

  • At first the artisans were too shy to look Ma in the eye. But as he sat and interacted with them, they grew to trust him.
"...eye. But...": Another use of the 'full stop-connector' combo

Check out the first 'as' segment again:

"But as he sat and interacted with them, they grew to trust him."

See how that 'and' segment ("and interacted with them") is nested inside the 'as' segment?

And that 'as' segment is itself nested inside the 'but' segment! "But as he sat and interacted..."

That's something to watch out for as we start to string more simple sentences and connectors together—the structure can become more complex and hierarchical.

Here's another snippet with intricate use of connectors.

See if you can identify how each connector creates meaning, whether in terms of relatedness, timing, causation, concession, or other relationships. And watch out for nested connectors!

Mom and Dad had no money for braces, of course—none of us kids had ever even been to the dentist—but since I'd been babysitting and doing other kids' homework for cash, I resolved to save up until I could afford braces myself.

The Glass CastleJeanette WallsSource
The answers:

How'd you go? That snippet is tricky to analyse. Lots of different kinds of relationships, and lots of nested connectors.

Let's try writing our own multi-connector compound sentences. For this exercise, we'll use the simple sentences from the last snippet and just change the relationships between them using different connectors.

Here are the simple sentences from that snippet again:

  1. Mom and Dad had no money for braces, of course.
  2. None of us kids had ever even been to the dentist.
  3. I'd been babysitting.
  4. I'd been doing other kids' homework for cash.
  5. I resolved to save up.
  6. I could afford braces myself.

Mom and Dad had no money for braces of course, and none of us kids had ever even been to the dentist, so I'd been babysitting or doing other kids' homework for cash; I resolved to save up so I could afford braces myself.

Here's another example, but this time we've mixed up the original simple sentences a little.

None of us kids had ever been to the dentist, and I resolved to save up, because Mom and Dad had no money for braces, of course, so I started babysitting, then did other kids' homework for cash, but I couldn't afford braces myself.

Your turn. Use different connectors to create different kinds of relationships (e.g. cause and effect, concession, conditions, etc.). Mess around with the simple sentences if you want—swap them around, change the tense, change the actors—it can help you find more possibilities for using different connectors.

The list of simple sentences
Your turn

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