sentence_structureIf you missed the post on faulty coordination, Sentence Structure and Coordination, be sure to check it out.  We discussed that you don’t always need to begin a sentence with the subject, and the problems we can run into with improper coordination.  This post is a continuation of that topic covering faulty subordination, rambling sentences and faulty parallelism.

There are two types of problems we can encounter when using subordination; we can use the wrong subordinator or we can subordinate the wrong idea.  To avoid using the incorrect subordinator, always make sure that the connecting subordinator shows exactly how two ideas are related.

Faulty coordination:  John ran for months even though he would be ready for the marathon.
Correct coordination:  John ran for months so that he would be ready for the marathon.

Common Subordinators and Their Usage:

To show time: after, before, whenever.
To show cause: because, since, as.
To show purpose: that, so that, in order that.
To show condition: if, even though, unless.

The second problem mentioned is not showing how ideas are related.  To avoid this we can use a subordinator to make the less important idea a subordinate clause and express the more important idea as an independent clause.

Faulty coordination:  Although they took a walk, it was raining.
Correct coordination:  Although it was raining, they took a walk.

To wrap up coordination and subordination, remember:
1.  Connecting words need to best describe how the ideas are related.
2.  If ideas are unrelated, use two separate sentences.
3.  Use a coordinating word if both ideas are equal in importance.
4.  Use a phrase or subordinate clause if related ideas are not equally important.

Rambling or Run-On Sentences

Sometimes we’re all guilty of having a sentence ramble on into infinity.  This is generally caused by using too much coordination.  We can avoid this by separating our ideas into more concise sentences.

Rambling sentence:  Children who get involved in sports at school are more socially adapted and have more self esteem than children who don’t participate in sports because they have support of the group, companionship, and are better able to focus on team efforts as opposed to loners who only focus on being an outcast.

Improved:  Children who get involved with sports are more socially adapted and have more self esteem than children who don’t participate in sports.  The children involved with sports share group support, team focus and companionship.  Loners often focus on being an outcast.

Faulty Parallelism

Ideas in sentences, like railroad tracks, should be parallel to one another.  If one of the railroad tracks is slightly off, the train derails.  In the same sense, if sentences contain a faulty parallelism, it derails the sentence.

Faulty: The band members were enthusiastic, energetic, and of great talent.
Parallel:  The band members were enthusiastic, energetic, and talented.

Faulty: Playing your best is more important than to win.
Parallel:  Playing your best is more important than winning.

Faulty:  Jack’s goals are to study accounting and saving money for the future.
Parallel:  Jack’s goals are to study accounting and save money for the future.

It’s not always possible to ask a writer to clarify a mistake.  Making sure that you’ve combined sentences correctly and used the proper combinations will help ensure that the message is conveyed to the reader the way it was intended.