Combining Sentences

Mrs. J. Moton

Sentence Combining


sentence combining- pioneered by Kellogg W. Hunt and John Mellon, extended by Frank O'Hare, and popularized by William Stong and William L Stull- effectively helps students strengthen their writing skills and practice the stylistic choices available to them   Students create more syntactically mature sentences through oral and written practice.  The words in sentences read better, the syntax flows more smoothly-not in short, choppy bits.  

Sentence combining "(1) increase modification of nouns  by large clusters of adjectives, relative clauses, and reduced relative clauses: (2) the increasing use of nominalizations other than nouns and pronouns for subjects and objects: (3) the embedding of sentences to an increasing depth"(Moffett 162-163).

Before: I went to the football game.  I saw the cheerleaders.  They were dreseed in blue and white.  I saw the coaches.  They looked worried.  This was a tough game.  Mojo had a reputation.  They always won.

After:  At the football game I saw the cheerleaders dressed in the school's colors-blue and white.  The coaches, looking worried, knew this would be a tough game against Mojo because of their reputation.  They always won.


Approach sentence combining with large or small group, in pairs, or individually, either orally or in writing.   To help students realize there are many ways to combine sentences; one way is not inherently better than another.  Students see that combinations are based on style, what works best, or what or sounds best in a given context.  Avoid focusing too much on terminology (parts of speech or sentence patterns).

Group Activity:

Divide students into groups.  Each group works with a series of clusters related to a single topic (Hamburgers)  A scribe in each group writes out the suggested combinations, which the group later shares with the class or hands in to the teacher.  Students in each group star the combination they thinks is best or most effective and present rationales for their decision.  These collaborative sessions enhance learning.  are less threatening  than whole-class work, and are enjoyable.