Home > Strategies and Skill Development > Verbal Strategy Families > Sentence Combining > Literature Note - Sentence Combining

Sentence combining is a technique deriving from transformational grammar analysis, which was proposed as a way to teach novice writers how to take content and express it in more complex sentence patterns (O'Hare, 1973). Considerable evidence indicates that instruction in sentence-combining has positive effects on both writing and reading comprehension (Combs, 1976, 1977; Graham & Perin, 2007; Hillocks, 1987; Hunt, 1983; Saddler & Graham, 2005). The evidence of positive effect is stronger for this kind of implicit instruction in grammar, which focuses on manipulating grammatical structure, than it is for more formal instruction in grammar, in which there is a stronger emphasis on learning labels and terms. However, the support for the idea that grammar is not helpful is weaker than one might suppose (Hudson, 2001; Weaver, 1996).

Combs, W. E. (1976). Further effects of sentence-combining practice on writing ability. Research in the Teaching of English, 10(2), 137-149.

Combs, W. E. (1977). Sentence-combining practice aids reading comprehension. Journal of Reading, 21(1), 18-24.

Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). Writing next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high schools. New York, NY: Carnegie Corporation.

Hillocks, G. (1987). Synthesis of research on teaching writing. Educational Leadership, 4, 71-82.

Hudson, R. (2001). Grammar teaching and the schools: The research evidence. Syntax in the Schools, 17, 1-6.

Hunt, K. (1983). Sentence combining and the teaching of writing. In M. Martlew (Ed.), The psychology of written language (pp. 99-125 ). Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons.

O'Hare, F. (1973). Sentence combining: Improving student writing without formal grammar instruction (NCTE Research Report No. 15). Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Saddler, B., & Graham, S. (2005). The effects of peer-assisted sentence-combining instruction on the writing performance of more and less skilled young writers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(1), 43-54.

Weaver, C. (1996). Teaching grammar in the context of writing. English Journal, 85(7), 15-24.

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