Simple to Complex

To Begin With

A sentence is the basic unit of communication in writing.  It is made with clauses.  While there are several types of clause, there are two general categories:  dependent clauses and independent/ main clauses. 
A clause is a group of words that includes a subject and a verb.  Nothing else is necessary.  In some cases, even the subject is not necessary because it is implied:
               This is an imperative sentence.  The subject is always you.  Imperative sentences command actions or make requests.
A dependant clause cannot stand on its own:  It must ...

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Conditional Conundrum

Big Three

If you find conditional sentences frustrating, you are not alone.  It is likely that you are not sure which verb form to use to express exactly what you want to say.  A good place to start is a comparison of three common patterns, which, unhelpfully, are commonly referred to as the first, second, and third condition.  It is much more useful to refer to them as non-past real/true, non-past unreal/ untrue, and past unreal.  Let’s look at them:

Time and Truth

Non-past real/true 
If + simple present, (will) simple form:
            If the ...

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Good Time

Adverb Clauses

Adverb clauses are subordinate/ dependant clauses, which means they cannot stand alone as complete sentences:  An adverb clause must join to an independent clause to make a complete sentence.  Adverb clauses connect to independent clauses using subordinating conjunctions such as when, if, although, where, because and several others.  Basically, subordinating conjunctions refer to time, condition, contrast, place, and cause and effect.

Time Clauses

Adverb clauses of time begin with subordinating conjunctions like before, after, since, while, as, when, by the time, every time, whenever, until, till, as soon as, and as long as.  The important thing will ...

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The Myth of the Inappropriate Conjunction

Conjunction Confusion

In my classes, I encourage students to question my explanations and look for exceptions to the rules we cover.  By the time they enter my writing and grammar class, they have very likely been studying English for at least a year, and probably longer.  Inevitably, someone will speak up and tell me that we can’t start a sentence with and or but, or indeed with any coordinating conjunction.  This is an old rule that high school teachers apparently taught (and still teach?) here in North America, but if English is not your first language, then you likely learned ...

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Welcome to the eslMaxx blog! This is the very first installment and I’m pretty excited about it.  I have various ideas I’ll try out here.  I am asked questions every day in the classroom.  Often they are ones I’ve answered before, but every once in a while somebody hits me with something I wasn’t expecting, and I have to turn to different resources to come up with an answer.  Those are particularly useful teaching moments, and they make me a better teacher, so I will be sharing some of them.  The worst answer a teacher can give is, “Oh, ...

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