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Sentence-combining strategies are strategies for dealing with phrasing and paraphrasing issues by consciously rearranging the way information is packed into sentences. The same propositional content can be arranged in many different ways, depending on how particular parts are expressed grammatically (as independent clauses, dependent clauses, participles, modifiers, and so on). Sentence-combining methods provide relatively concrete ways to consider alternative ways of presenting the same information. As such, sentence combining goes beyond simple paraphrase because it can change the way information is combined across entire paragraphs or larger text units. The hypothesized development of these skills is presented in Development Table 36.


This ability corresponds in part to Language Standard 1 from the Common Core State Standards.

Literature Note - Sentence Combining

Development Table 36. Hypothesized Development of Sentence-Combining Skills

Level
Interpretation
Deliberation
Expression
Preliminary
(oral to word)
When sentences are juxtaposed, can infer semantically appropriate relations between them (sequence, causation, contrast, etc.).
Can deploy simple organize-and-concatenate strategies (with minimal adjustments for coherence such as insertion of coordinating conjunctions) to convert a list of propositions into a coherent text.
Can produce various simple sentence forms, including simple statements, exclamations, directions, and questions with appropriate inflectional endings (plurals, possessives, tense) on verbs and nouns and appropriate use of pronouns, articles, and common prepositions. When multiple clauses are combined, they are usually juxtaposed, though clauses may also be joined with conjunctions to form simple compound sentences.
Foundational
(word to sentence)
Given a text, can infer (and therefore produce) a list of simple statements that unpack that text's content.
Can deploy cohesive reduction strategies for combining information from multiple propositions, such as inserting pronouns to simplify repeated references or converting simple statements about attributes (I walked across the sand. The sand is hot) into simple modifiers (I walked across the hot sand).
Produces a wider variety of simple and compound sentences, making full use of the grammatical options available, such as modal, progressive, and perfect verb forms, passives, comparative and superlative constructions with adjectives and adverbs, and correlative constructions. When multiple clauses or predications are combined, they are typically juxtaposed, inserted as simple modifiers, or conjoined.
Uses some relative clauses to identify new referents.
Basic
(sentence to text)
Can identify which entities (corresponding to key noun phrases) in a text are major topics that play a central role in the text.
Can identify which propositions (corresponding to key clauses or predicates) are foregrounded by the syntactic structure of the text (typically main clauses whose subjects are key topics).
When combining information from multiple propositions, can deploy foregrounding and backgrounding strategies using specific syntactic devices (e.g. subordinating conjunctions, nominalizations, or relative clauses) to background details and highlight main ideas.
Produces a variety of simple, compound, and complex sentences, making full use of the grammatical options some use of a variety of complex sentence types (including adverbial and relative clauses and verb complement clauses.) When sentences are combined, both compound and complex structures are frequently used, with complex sentences being used in primarily in their prototypical contexts.
Intermediate
(text to context)
Can identify specific phrases that represent given (background) information that the writer presumes the audience already knows, and can isolate phrases and clauses that represent new information that is currently the focus of attention and in need of more detailed explanation.
When combining information from multiple propositions, can deploy focusing strategies that use a variety of syntactic reordering devices (passives, clefts, extraposition, raising, etc.) to maximize topical coherence, emphasize new information, and move complex phrases to sentence-final positions where they will be easier to process.
Produces a variety of simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentence types.When sentences are combined, the choice of construction is dictated by the need to establish appropriate patterns of textual coherence, focus, and emphasis. Thus passives, clefts, and other reordering structures are used to put thematic information in salient syntactic positions; subordinate clauses are used to background subsidiary information; and pronominal constructions are used to establish clear chains of reference for thematic and topical elements.
Advanced
(text and context to discourse)
Can identify specific words and phrases in a text that represent the author's opinion or point of view, and distinguish them from words or phrases attributed to someone else.
When combining information from multiple propositions, can background subjective elements and highlight bydeploying syntactic subjectification strategies (e.g., John appears to be happy instead of I believe that John is happy; Jane should win the match instead of I predict that Jane will win the match).
Uses a variety of simple, compound, and compound/complex sentence types, making full use of constructions that reflect perspective-taking and stance, including direct and indirect speech, framing predicates such as adjectives that take clausal or verbal complements, and the like.





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