Thinking Box

Fundamentals of English Grammar - Chapter 8: Connecting Ideas

8-1 Connecting Ideas with And

Connecting Items within a Sentence

  • (a) NO COMMA: I saw a cat and a mouse.
    (b) COMMAS: I saw a cat, a mouse, and a dog.

    When and connects only TWO WORDS (or phrases) within a sentence, NO COMMA is used, as in (a).
    When and connects THREE OR MORE items within a sentence, COMMAS are used, as in (b).*

Connecting Two Sentences

  • (c) COMMA: I saw a cat, and you saw a mouse.

    When and connects TWO COMPLETE SENTENCES (also called "independent" clauses), a COMMA is usually used, as in (c).

  • (d) PERIOD: I saw a cat. You saw a mouse.
    (e) INCORRECT: I saw a cat, you saw a mouse.

    Without and, two complete sentences are separated by a period, as in (d), not a comma.**
    A complete sentence begins with a capital letter; note that You is capitalized in (d).

* In a series of three or more items, the momma before and is optional.
ALSO CORRECT: I saw a cat, a mouse and a dog.
** A "period" (the dot used at the end of a sentence) is called a "full stop" in British English.

8-2 Connecting Ideas with But and Or

  • (a) I went to bed but couldn't sleep.
    (b) Is a lemon sweet or sour?
    (c) Did you order coffee, tea, or milk?

    And, but, and or are called "coordinating conjunctions."
    Like and, but and or can connect items within a sentence.
    Commas are used with a series of three or more items, as in (c).

  • I dropped the vase. = a sentence
    It didn't break. = a sentence
    (d) I dropped the vase, but it didn't break.
    (e) Do we have class on Monday, or is Monday a holiday?

    A comma is usually used when but or or combines two complete (independent) sentences into one sentence, as in (d) and (e).
    A conjunction can also come at the beginning of a sentence, except in formal writing.
    ALSO CORRECT: I dropped the vase. But it didn't break. / I saw a cat. And you saw a mouse.

8-3 Connecting Ideas with So

  • (a) The room was dark, so I turned on a light.

    So can be used as a conjunction, as in (a). It is preceded by a comma. It connects the ideas in two independent clauses.

    So expresses results:
    cause: The room was dark.
    result: I turned on a light.

  • COMPARE: The room was dark, but I didn't turn on a light.

    But often expresses an unexpected result, as in (b).

8-4 Using Auxiliary Verbs after But

(a) I don't like coffee, but my husband does.
(b) I like tea, but my husband doesn't.
(c) I won't be here tomorrow, but Sue will.
(d) I've seen that movie, but Joe hasn't.
(e) He isn't here, but she is.*

After but, often only an auxiliary verb is used. It has the same tense or modal as the main verb.
In (a): does = likes coffee

Notice in the examples:
negative + but + affirmative
affirmative + but + negative

8-5 Using And + Too, So, Either, Neither

  • (a) Sue works, and Tom does too. (S + AUX + TOO)
    (b) Sue works, and so does Tom. (SO + AUX + S)

    In affirmative statements, an auxiliary verb + too or so can be used after and.
    Examples (a) and (b) have the same meaning.

    Word order:
    subject + auxiliary + too
    So + auxiliary + subject

  • (c) Ann doesn't work, and Joe doesn't either. (S + AUX + EITHER)
    (d) Ann doesn't work, and neither does Joe. (NEITHER + AUX + S)

    An auxiliary verb + either or neither are used with negative statements.
    Examples (c) and (d) have the same meaning.
    Word order:
    subject + auxiliary + either
    neither + auxiliary + subject
    NOTE: An affirmative auxiliary is used with neither.

  • (e) I'm hungry.
    I am too. / So am I.
    (f) I don't eat meat.
    I don't either. / Neither do I.

    And is not usually used when there are two speakers.

  • (g) I'm hungry.
    Me too. (informal)
    (h) I don't eat meat.
    Me (n)either. (informal)

    Me too, me either, and me neither are often used in informal spoken English.

8-6 Connecting Ideas with Because

  • (a) He drank water because he was thirsty.

    Because expresses a cause; it gives a reason. Why did he drink water? Reason: He was thirsty.

  • (b) MAIN CLAUSE: He drank water.

    A main clause is a complete sentence:
    He drank water = a complete sentence

  • (c) ADVERB CLAUSE: because he was thirsty

    An adverb clause is NOT a complete sentence:
    because he was thirsty = NOT a complete sentence
    Because introduces an adverb clause:
    because + subject + verb = an adverb clause

  • (d) He drank water because he was thirsty.
    (e) Because he was thirsty, he drank water.

    An adverb clause is connected to a main clause, as in (d) and (e).
    In (d): main clause + no comma + adverb clause
    In (e): adverb clause + comma + main clause
    Examples (d) and (e) have exactly the same meaning.

  • (f) INCORRECT IN WRITING:
    He drank water. Because he was thirsty.

    Example (f) is incorrect in written English: Because he was thirsty cannot stand alone as a sentence that starts with a capital letter and ends with a period. It has to be connected to a main clause, as in (d) and (e).

  • (g) CORRECT IN SPEAKING:
    Why did he drink some water?
    Because he was thirsty.

    In spoken English, an adverb clause can be used as the short answer to a question, as in (g).

8-7 Connecting Ideas with Even Though/Although

  • (a) Even though I was hungry, I did not eat.
    I did not eat even though I was hungry.
    (b) Although I was hungry, I did not eat.
    I didn't eat although I was hungry.

    Even though and although introduce an adverb clause.
    Examples (a) and (b) have the same meaning:
    I was hungry, but I did not eat.

COMPARE:

  • (c) Because I was hungry, I ate.
    (d) Even though I was hungry, I did not eat.

    Because expresses an expected result, as in (c).
    Even though/although expresses an unexpected or opposite result, as in (d).

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