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Sentence Punctuation Patterns

Summary:

This handout describes eight sentence punctuation patterns with examples.

Contributors:Dana Lynn Driscoll, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2011-10-05 01:09:36

To punctuate a sentence, you can use and combine some of these patterns. For more information on independent and dependent clauses plus independent and dependent markers, see our handouts on those subjects.

Pattern One: Simple sentence

This pattern is an example of a simple sentence:

Independent clause [ . ]

Example: Doctors are concerned about the rising death rate from asthma.

Pattern Two : Compound Sentence

This pattern is an example of a compound sentence with a coordinating conjunction:

Independent clause [ , ] coordinating conjunction independent clause [ . ]

There are seven coordinating conjunctions: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet.

Example: Doctors are concerned about the rising death rate from asthma, but they don't know the reasons for it.

Pattern Three: Compound Sentence

This pattern is an example of a compound sentence with a semicolon.

Independent clause [ ; ] independent clause [ . ]

Example: Doctors are concerned about the rising death rate from asthma; they are unsure of its cause.

Pattern Four: Compound Sentence

This pattern is an example of a compound sentence with an independent marker.

Independent clause [ ; ] independent marker [ , ] independent clause [ . ]

Examples of independent markers are the following: therefore, moreover, thus, consequently, however, also.

Example: Doctors are concerned about the rising death rate from asthma; therefore, they have called for more research into its causes.

Pattern Five: Complex Sentence

This pattern is an example of a complex sentence with a dependent marker.

Dependent marker dependent clause[ , ] Independent clause[ . ]

Examples of dependent markers are as follows: because, before, since, while, although, if, until, when, after, as, as if.

Example: Because doctors are concerned about the rising death rate from asthma, they have called for more research into its causes.

Pattern Six: Complex Sentence

This pattern is an example of a complex sentence with a dependent marker.

Independent clause dependent marker dependent clause [ . ]

Examples of dependent markers are as follows: because, before, since, while, although, if, until, when, after, as, as if.

Example: Doctors are concerned about the rising death rate from asthma because it is a common, treatable illness.

Pattern Seven

This pattern includes an independent clause with an embedded non-essential clause or phrase

First part of an independent clause [ , ] non-essential clause or phrase, rest of the independent clause [ . ]

A non-essential clause or phrase is one that can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence or making it ungrammatical. In other words, the non-essential clause or phrase gives additional information, but the sentence can stand alone without it.

Example: Many doctors, including both pediatricians and family practice physicians, are concerned about the rising death rate from asthma.

Pattern Eight

This pattern includes an independent clause with an embedded essential clause or phrase

First part of an independent clause essential clause or phrase rest of the independent clause [ . ]

An essential clause or phrase is one that cannot be removed without changing the overall meaning of the sentence.

Example: Many doctors who are concerned about the rising death rate from asthma have called for more research into its causes.

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