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All Pages Home Page The RLA test includes several questions related to sentence structure. To score well on the GED writing test, you need to clearly understand what is a sentence and what is not. Questions with sentence structure errors may include fragments, run-ons, comma splices, punctuation errors and problems with parallelism or misplaced modifiers. You may also have to correct informal language and subject-verb agreement or pronoun-antecedent errors. This wiki page gives you an overview of many of these topics, plus some worksheets, websites and random guides that are useful in preparing for the sentence structure questions on the GED RLA (Reasoning through Language Arts) Test. McGraw Hill's GED Writer's Handbook on Sentence Structure summarizes most of the info on this wiki page, and gives more examples to help you understand.
What is a Sentence? A sentence is an organized group of words, including a subject and verb that agree, that go together to communicate one complete thought.
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All sentences must begin with a capital letter and end with a period, question mark or exclamation point. Try this worksheet:
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Recognize Sentences and Run Ons.pdf Details Download 122 KB There are 3 kinds of sentences in English: 1. simple sentences 2. compound sentences 3. complex sentences (You can also have complex-compound sentences:) To understand and talk about these three kinds of sentences, it helps to know difference between a phrase and a clause, and the difference between an independent clause and a dependent clause. PHRASE: An organized group of words that together make sense, but do not have their own subject and verb. Examples: in the morning under the table after work table blue up CLAUSE: An organized group of words that has its own subject and verb and makes sense together. There are two kinds of clauses: dependent and independent DEPENDENT CLAUSE: has its own subject and verb, but does not form a complete thought. Therefore, a dependent clause cannot be a sentence by itself. It must be joined with an independent clause or have some other changes to qualify as a complete sentence. Dependent clauses are also known as "subordinate clauses" and examples of them are often called time clauses and if clauses.) INDEPENDENT CLAUSE: an organized group of words with its own subject and verb that does form a complete thought. An independent clause can form a complete sentence on its own. (Just add a capital letter and period.) They can also be joined with a dependent clause to form a complex sentence, or joined with another independent clause to form a compound sentence. Independent clauses are also called "main clauses."
3 Kinds of Sentences: Simple, Compound & Complex There are 3 kinds of sentences in English - simple, compound & complex 1. simple sentences 2. compound sentences 3. complex sentences LINKS and VIDEOS about simple, complex & compound sentences Simple, Compound, and Complex Sentences from the Writing Center at Texas A & M http://www2.ivcc.edu/rambo/eng1001/sentences.htm
To become a strong writer in English and do well on the GED, you must understand the differences between this 3 kinds of sentences and the rules that apply to them. Fortunately, the rules are clear and there are not that many. Once you master them, your writing skills will skyrocket! Bummer.....These links are dead (as of April 2015)...Check back soon....... Click here to read this explanation of simple, compound and complex sentences from www.eslbee.com . After you read it, take this quick quiz to see if you can tell the difference between a simple, compound and complex sentence. Then, after you take the test, click on the audio that appears to listen to the Erlyn Baack, the teacher who wrote the test, explain each of the six sentences and why they are simple, compound or complex. This is good stuff! Play it is as often as you need in order to understand these 3 kinds of sentences. After you have mastered the first quiz, try this next one. DO NOT JUST MOVE ON WITHOUT FULLY UNDERSTANDING THE MATERIAL IN THE FIRST QUIZ! This second quiz is more difficult, with more advanced sentences. Click here for Quiz 2. (10 sentences about Helen Keller.) The third quiz, taken from the short story The Americanization of Shadrach Cohen, is here
simple sentences subject + verb + complete thought A simple sentence may have a compound subject (more than one subject) OR a compound predicate (more than one verb.) but it cannot have two separate subjects doing two separate verbs. (That would make it a compound sentence, not a simple sentence.) Simple: Beth went to the store. 1 subject 1 verb Simple: Beth and Chris went to the store 2 subjects 1 verb Simple: Beth went to the store and bought milk. 1 subject 2 verbs Simple: Beth and Chris went to the store and bought milk. 2 subjects doing the same 2 verbs Compound: Beth went to the store, and Chris stayed home. 2 subjects doing 2 different verbs. If the second verb is done by the same person without repeating the subject, the sentence is simple: Simple: Beth went to the store and bought milk. 1 subject 2 verbs If the second verb is done by the same person and the sentence names that person again (usually with a pronoun) this makes the sentence compound: Compound: Beth went to the store and she bought milk. 2 subjects doing 2 different verbs.
compound sentences 2 independent clauses joined into one sentence. There are 3 ways to create a compound sentence 1. Using a coordinating conjunction The coordinating conjunctions are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet & so. These are remembered by the acronym FANBOYS. You must put a comma before any FANBOYS conjunction when used to make a compound sentence.
Beth went to the store, and she bought milk. Beth went to the store, but she didn’t buy anything.
2. Using a conjunctive adverb preceeded by a semicolon and followed by a comma Two independent clauses can also sometimes be joined into one compound sentence with a semicolon followed by a conjunctive adverb, then a comma. This is generally for complex, advanced writing. Beth went to the store; however, she didn’t buy anything.
Some examples of conjunctive adverbs in use.
2. Using a semicolon only. Two independent clauses can also sometimes be joined into one compound sentences with a semicolon. This is not common in high school-level writing such as is expected on the GED, and it is not taught in class. However, you will come across it as an answer to correcting incorrect run-on sentences in grammar questions on the RLA portion of the GED, so you should be aware it is an option.
complex sentences an independent clause and a dependent clause joined with a subordinating conjunction. What is a dependent clause? What is an independent clause? Punctuation Rule for Complex Sentences If the dependent clause comes before the indepdendent clause, separate them with a comma. If the dependent clause comes after the independent clause, a comma is generally not necessary. Subordinating conjunctions include: unless, although, if, until, because, so that, when, before, after. One of the best things you can do to prepare yourself to do well on the grammar questions of the GED test is to be familiar with the subordinating conjunctions and when and how to use them. Here are some links to help you: List of subordinating conjunctions and examples of usage List of subordinating conjunctions from EnglishPlus.com 50 Subordinating Conjunctions and Why They Matter Bonus: Are you confused about when to choose between though, although, despite, even though, and in spite of? Check out this vocabulary video from EnVid.com!
Here are some PowerPoint presentations from Mr. Horton at the University of North Georgia on various sentence problems, such as fused (run-on) sentences and comma splices.
Sentence Basics Sentence Basics.ppt Details Download 604 KB
This PowerPoint presentation reviews the basics of a sentence. It will help you answer the question "What is a sentence?" and see how nouns and pronouns are used as the subject of sentences. It shows how a simple sentence can have a compound subject of two or more nouns or pronouns, and how to punctuate these sentences. It also talks about tricky subjects like "there" and "here" and possessive nouns. You can take a short online quiz from Contemporary GED to check your understanding of the material. More Sentence Basics - Verbs & Tricky T… Details Download 639 KB
This PowerPoint presentation gives more information about the basic sentence. It starts by talking about verbs and verb tenses, then reviews simple sentences with compound subjects, subjects "there" and "here" and indefinite pronouns. It explains the rules of which verbs to use to agree with these tricky kinds of subjects. You'll also learn a little bit about prepositional phrases and their role in a sentence. The above materials are about "simple sentences." Simple sentences are sentences that have just one independent clause in them. They might have a compound subject OR a compound verb, but not both. The materials below begin to focus on "compound" and "complex" sentences, which are ways to combine more complex thoughts into one correct sentence. Compound sentences are created using coordinating conjunctions, and complex sentences are created using subordinating conjunctions. Before you go on, you should be familiar with theses terms and concepts: Parts of a sentence: subject, verb, object, predicate, prepositional phrase, dependent clause What is the difference between a dependent clause and an independent clause? Which one can be a sentence by itself? Which is a fragment by itself? 3 kinds of sentence: simple sentence, complex sentence & compound sentences Coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so (FANBOYS) which are used to create compound sentences Subordinating conjunctions (see list below) which begin dependent clauses and are used in complex sentences. 5 common GED sentence errors: fragments, run-ons, comma splices, misplaced modifiers and parallelism errors. Knowing these terms will help you immensely in understanding the materials below and scoring well on the GED Writing Test. Some of the materials below explain these terms for you, and others assume you already know them. Try them all to increase your expertise of high school writing in a short time! If you did not learn most of these concepts in school, the writing test will be difficult, but not impossible. You should learn the difference between the three kinds of sentences (simple, compound and complex) memorize the key coordinating and subordinating conjunctions and read every day so that you become unconsciously aware of English sentence structure. Good everyday reading resources include the Columbus Dispatch and your children's middle school or high school textbooks. Remember that not everything you'll read in everyday life is written in complete sentences. For example, advertisements, text messages and cartoon strips are not the best resources for learning about advanced English sentence structure, because they don't always use complete sentences. On your GED writing exam, only complete sentences are acceptable. Compound & Complex Sentences.ppt Details Download 624 KB
This PowerPoint explains how to correctly combine thoughts into compound and complex sentences. It also explains how to fix erroneous sentence structures, such as run-ons and comma splices. Click here to read a good summary of simple, complex and compound sentences written for ESL students at ESLbee.com. Then, take the 3 short quizzes at the bottom of the page to test your understanding. Here are direct links to the three ESLBee.com quizzes about simple, complex and compound sentences. 1. ESLBee Quiz 1 (6 Quick Sentences) 2. ESLBee Quiz 2 (10 Sentences about Helen Keller) 3. ESLBee Quiz 3 (28 Sentences on the Americanization of Shadrach) Compound Sentences - Conjunctive Adverbs & FANBOYS
Fragments Groups of words that are not complete sentences can be called fragments. Fragments might look like sentences if they start with a capital letter and end with a period. However, they are missing a subject, missing a verb, or missing a complete thought. Phrases and dependent clauses by themselves are common examples of fragments.
We often speak and write in fragments, and we are understood because of the context of the conversation or message. However, on the GED test, all writing must be in complete sentences. (Exception: You'll notice a lot of reading passages, especially fiction dramas, contain lots of fragments, but the GED test does not ask us to correct these.) The GED RLA test will have multiple choice questions that require you to decide whether a group of words is a sentence or not. If it is not a sentence, you'll be asked to make changes to form it into a sentence. Also, you may be asked to change simple sentences into compound and complex sentences. Usually, such changes are made using punctuation marks (usually a period, comma or semi-colon) and/or by using conjunctions. (See above) Mastering each of these concepts is a primary focus of high school language arts courses. Students build on basic knowledge they acquired in earlier grades. Examples of the more basic knowledge includes the parts of speech, parts of a sentence, verb tenses, subject-verb agreement, word order, word form and, of course, lots of vocabulary. If you do not have those skills, check out the Basic Pre-GED Skills of this wiki. GrammarBytes Great Resources on Fragments at chompcomp.com: RULES FOR FINDING AND FIXING FRAGMENTS Includes discussion of subordinate clauses, participial phrases, appositives and 9 comma rules. You can pass GED grammar with this! (11-page printable version here ) Fragment Tip #1 - Know a fragment when you see one. Fragment Tip #2 - Know what kind of fragment it is. Fragment Tip #3 - Know the right comma rule to fix the fragment. More Fragment Resources: A (slightly entertaining) podcast and webpage about fragments from QuickandDirtyTips.com Click here and then click on "Sentence Fragments Worksheet" in the middle of the page for a basic overview of sentence fragments and 20 opportunities to practice. Then, check your answers by clicking on "Sentence Fragments Worksheet Answers" on the same page. This info is from www.EnglishforEveryone.com . Another Sentence Worksheet
You can click directly on the worksheet and answers here also:
Sentence Fragments.pdf Details Download 26 KB
Answers-Fragments.pdf Details Download 17 KB When you are good at identifying the fragments in those basic exercises, try some tougher ones. Click here to go to three groups of exercises from Purdue University about identifying fragments. The answers are included.
Run On Sentences A run on sentence is a sentence that has too much. It may have a subject and a verb and a complete thought, but adds too many other thoughts. To fix this, you can often break the run on into separate complete sentences. A run on may be a sentence with two independent clauses joined without the proper conjunction or punctuation. To fix this, follow the rules for the 3 ways to form correct compound sentences.) A guide to run-on sentences from Grammar Girl at QuickandDirtyTips.com. It includes a podcast! Run on sentences worksheet.pdf Details Download 173 KB More Run-On Practice Answers Another Run On Worksheet Complete Sentences & Run Ons - 2 page worksheet
Comma Splices GREAT RESOURCE - Rules for Finding and Fixing Comma Splices and Fused Sentences . Understand the problem. Find the solution. (printable version here) A comma splice is one of the most common writing errors. It is also one of the easiest to fix. A comma splice is simply the mistake of combining two sentences into one using a comma. This is never possible in English. I like to play basketball, it is a form of relaxation for me. Those are two complete thoughts, or two independent clauses. You cannot join them together into one sentence by using a comma. There are 3 ways to fix a comma splice. The easiest fix is to replace the comma with a period. Of course, don't forget to make the second sentence start with a capital letter. I like to play basketball. It is a form of relaxation for me. If the two thoughts are very closely related, you might also join them with a semi-colon. Then, you don't need a capital letter. I like to play basketball; it is a form of relaxation for me. If the two thoughts make sense by adding a conjunction, you can do that. Just be careful to choose the right one. I like to play basketball because it is a form of relaxation for me. Video - How to Fix Comma Splices
Here's some more practice on comma splices and run-ons.
Parallelism In geometry, two lines that are parallel are an equal distant apart at all points. They will never touch or intersect; they run side by side next to each other. In writing, parallel words or phrases are those that have the same form or are the same part of speech. When you write about multiple things in one sentence, it sounds much better if he multiple things are parallel. Consider this sentence: When I clean the house, I dust the furniture, sweep the floors, and am washing the dishes. This sentence has a compound predicate (verb and object) listing three activities: 1. dust the furniture 2. sweep the floors 3. am washing the dishes. The first two verbs are in the simple present tense, then the third switches to the present progressive form. They are not parallel. The correct way to write this sentence is: When I clean the house, I dust the furniture, sweep the floors, and wash the dishes. The non-parallel sentence above is easy to spot because it also has the wrong verb tense. You can't say "When I clean...I am washing..." because they are two different verb tenses talking about the same time. That is not correct English. Sometimes, sentences can follow other rules of grammar but still not be parallel. Check out this sentence: When I clean the house, I dust the furniture, sweep the floors, and iron. There is no problem with the verb tense here, but it isn't parallel. The first two verbs are followed by objects (dust - furniture, sweep - floors) but the third verb does not have an object. That is not a big grammar error, but it would sound better if it were written in parallel form: When I clean the house, I dust the furniture, sweep the floors, and iron the laundry. Do you see how that sentence reads more smoothly? Parallel problems are not just related to verbs. Here are some examples with nouns, adverbs, phrases and clauses: Not parallel: l enjoyed a bowl of cereal, coffee and piece of toast for breakfast. Parallel: l enjoyed a bowl of cereal, cup of coffee and piece of toast for breakfast. Not parallel: The witness spoke slowly and in a careful way. Parallel: The witness spoke slowly and carefully. Not parallel: I like to work out in the morning and when I get off work. (problem: one phrase and one clause) Parallel: I like to work out in the morning and after work. (resolution: make them both phrases) Parallel: I like to work out when I wake up and when I get off work. (resolution: make them both clauses) Can you see how parallel sentences read more smoothly? Parallel sentences are an advanced writing error. You should try to keep your sentences parallel when you write your essay by checking for this problem during the revising phase of your writing. On the multiple choice portion of the GED test, expect to get 3-4 questions about parallelism. These questions often have two words, phrases or clauses that are parallel and one that is not, and you select the answer that makes the third item parallel. Here is an article from ESLbee.com about parallel structure in your writing. It has some exercises and a video to watch. (As of the date I posted this link, there were no answers to the exercises, but more practice is coming. See me if you do the exercises and want me to check your answers. EAJ) Great Online Resources on Parallel Structure - chompchomp.com
PowerPoint on Parallel Structure RULES of parallel structure - understand the problem and how to fix it! Interactive Parallelism Practice #1 - 20 sentence with explanations! Printable Parallelism Worksheet #1 (same as interactive #1, no answers) Interactive Parallelism Practice #2 - 20 more sentences to practice Printable Parallelism Handout #2 (same as interactive #2, no answers) Interactive Parallelism Practice #3 - multiple choice Printable Parallelism Practice #3 Interactive Parallelism Practice #4 Printable Parallelism Handout #4 Interactive Parallelism Practice #5 - a bit tougher fill-in-the-blank format... Printable Parallelism Practice #5 - fill-in the blank, same as interactive #5 Interactive Parallelism Practice #6 - final fill-in-the blank Printable Parallelism Practice #6 - final fill-in challenge! Review those rules one more time! Handout on Parallelism Structure Problems and Solutions from chompcomp.com's Grammar Bytes!
Misplaced & Dangling Modifiers Modifiers are words that describe, or modify, other words. For example, adjectives typically describe nouns. Modifiers can be single words, phrases or clauses. The modifier needs to be located close to the word it modifies in order to make sense. A modifer is "misplaced" when it is not close to the noun it modifies. If it is closer to another noun, the reader may logically assume that it is modifying that noun. Wrong: The house on the corner, which is blue and white, is for sale. “on the corner” = a phrase modifying (describing) the noun “house.” It is placed right after “house,” so it is correct. “which is blue and white” = a dependent clause describing “house.” However, the closest noun to this clause is "the corner." Therefore, this modifier is misplaced. It needs to go closer to the noun "house" to properly modify it. Correct: The blue and white house on the corner is for sale.
Dangling Modifiers It is very common in writing and speaking to misplace a modifier by placing it at the beginning of the sentence, before the subject, without putting the noun it modifies as the subject. This kind of mispaced modifier is so common that it has its own name - a dangling modifier. Wrong: Without knowing his name, it was difficult to introduce him. “Without knowing his name” = a modifying phrase. The closest noun is “it.” But “it” is not the person who does not know his name. These kinds of mistakes may make sense in spoken conversation, which is why they are common errors. However, they are unacceptable mistakes in correct written English. You need to always make sure that the sentence says who does what, and that all modifying words are clearly connected to the word they are supposed to modify.
You can fix a misplaced or dangling modifier in whatever way is necessary to form a complete, logical sentence. Here are some ways to fix the above erroneous sentence: Because Maria didn’t know his name, it was difficult to introduce him. Without knowing his name, Maria could not introduce him.
GED Test Connection: When you are faced with sentences to be corrected on the RLA test, but they seem to be correct, logical sentences with no capitalization, punctuation or spelling error, the issue is often either a misplaced modifier or a parallelism problem. These errors often look like correct, complete sentences, because they have subjects and verbs, and may appear to form a complete thought.
GrammarBytes at chompcomp.com Rules for Misplaced and Dangling Modifers (3-page printable summary )
PowerPoint Purdue OWL Summary & Practice for Modifiers Purdue OWL: Dangling Modifiers & How to Correct Them Misplaced Modifier Worksheet
Columbus State Writing Center This resource is intended for currently enrolled credit students who need help with assignments in credit classes. However, there are many links to useful information that is freely available regardless of whether you are enrolled in a credit class or not. Go to their website at: http://www.cscc.edu/academics/departments/english/writing-center.shtml
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