Related Topics

Word Order
Main Clauses
Component Parts of
  Main Clauses:
    I. The Predicate
   II. The Subject
  III. Objects
  IV. The Mid-Field
   V. Negations
   VI. "Non-elements"

Dependent Clauses
Relative Clauses
Infinitive Clauses

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Joining Two Main Clauses:

Note: The following description of compound sentences builds off of the linked discussion of main clauses. That page addresses the placement of such fundamental elements of word order as the predicate, subject, direct and indirect objects, the "mid-field," negations, and "non-elements." This particular page deals only with the ways in which main (or "independent") clauses can be combined within the same sentence.

Again, people who would prefer to follow a more mechanical - but ultimately less complete - set of rules for word order in general would be better served by linking to these prescriptive instructions for German word order. Both sites overlap considerably.

Both English and German allow speakers to combine two or more main clauses within a single sentence. Being placed side-by-side within a grammatical unit, they of course ought to bear a logical relationship to one another, but of a different sort from what exists between a main clause and a dependent one. The connection between the two main clauses can be expressed by means of a coordinating conjunction, an adverb, or simply by proximity.

In English, clauses that are tied together by a coordinating conjunction must be separated by a comma. If there is no such conjunction, the separator must be a semi-colon (or sometimes a colon); a comma would produce a "run-on sentence," which is a grammatical no-no:

He took a taxi home, and so did I.
He went right to bed, but I did not.
He went right to bed; I did not.
I went through my usual routine: I drank a glass of warm milk.

In some regards, compound sentences are just a writing convention. Usually, little is lost or gained by presenting the two independent clauses as two distinct sentences (Some representatives of the grammar police frown on starting a sentence with a coordinating conjunction like and or but, but they are losing that battle. And so they should).

Compounding sentences in German (das Satzgefüge)

The process for combining clauses is similar to that in English, except that a comma can be a permitted divider.