Question: What is the value of sentence combining exercises?
Answer: Sentence combining exercises enable you to experiment with sentence structure, to play with different types of structures within the sentence and to develop smooth expression that flows from beginning to end of a paragraph. Practicing some sentence combining exercises when you don’t feel like writing will start you on your way. When you are revising your own work, note whether combining some sentences will improve your expression.
Yesterday, I asked you to try combining the kernel sentences in the following paragraph from July 6 in Hal Borland’s Twelve Moons of the Year, a chronology of the New England seasons:
In North America, there are 90,000 species of insects. 25,000 of these species are beetles. Beetles are everywhere. Beetles click. Beetles creep. Beetles gnaw. Beetles pillage. Beetles scavenge. Beetles even light the night. Dragonflies have not changed much in 300 million years. Dragonflies clatter in flight. Dragonflies stare you down. Dragonflies live on smaller insects. Flies are ubiquitous. So are mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are insatiable. Flies and mosquitoes thrive everywhere. Flies and mosquitoes thrive in heat. Flies and mosquitoes thrive in humidity. Butterflies spangle. The afternoons are hot. Moths are big. Moths are dusky. Moths haunt the garden. The evening is cool.
Here is Borland’s original paragraph:
There are almost 90,000 species of insects in North America and 25,000 of them are beetles. Beetles are everywhere, clicking, creeping, gnawing, pillaging, scavenging, even lighting the night; dragonflies, little changed in 300 million years, clatter in flight, stare you down, and live on still smaller insects. The ubiquitous flies and the insatiable mosquitoes thrive everywhere in heat and humidity. Butterflies spangle the hot afternoon and big, dusky moths haunt the garden in the cool of the evening.
Did you think some of your sentences were better than Borland’s?
Here is another paragraph from Borland. I have taken the ideas of his original paragraph apart and turned them into “kernels.” This one is from July 8, entitled, “The Succulent Bean.”
The bean is strange. It is a vegetable. It provides food for man. It provides food for beast. It is like all members of the legume family. It grows in soil. It enriches the soil. It is edible when green. It is edible when dried. It comes to the table. It is green. It is a snap bean. It is fresh from the garden It is properly cooked. It is properly buttered. It is most satisfying. It is an early yield from the garden. Later it is a challenge to every gardener. The gardener challenges every neighbor. The gardener challenges every weekender. The gardener challenges every casual visitor. The gardener will beg them to take beans. The gardener will try to be rid of them. That is later. Now it is a treasure. Now it is a gustatory delight.
Your purpose is to combine the kernels into sentences that will produce a smooth paragraph. Most of the kernels are in the original order of Borland’s paragraph. Feel free to add and subtract words. Tomorrow, I will give you Borland’s original and tell you how to created your own sentence-combining exercises.
All the best. RayS.