0

Is the following a compound sentence, and why?

We sang and danced.

What I understood of compound sentences was that they are made of two independent clauses, connected by a coordinating conjunction or comma or semicolon. But the concepts of compound subjects and compound predicates got me all confused. How does a compound sentence differ from a sentence with a compound predicate or a contracted predicate? How can I clearly differentiate between compound sentences, compound predicates and contracted predicates?

  • Welcome to EL&U. Could you please tell us what researches you've done so far and what have you found out and why they didn't help? – Neeku Apr 19 '19 at 14:41
  • 2
    Hi and welcome! The way your question is phrased makes it sound suspiciously like you are hoping to take any answer given and copy it directly into a homework assignment. If that's not the case, please expand your question to show what your understanding is of a compound vs contracted predicate, and why the sentence in question has you confused; then hopefully we will be able to explain things clearly for you. – Hellion Apr 19 '19 at 14:45
  • Stack Exchange has a community that you might be interested to connect with: English Language Learners. – Lawrence Apr 19 '19 at 15:10
  • @Hellion It's not a homework assignment. I'm too old for that. What I understood of compound sentences was that they are made of two independent clauses, connected by a coordinating conjunction or comma or semicolon. But the concepts of compound subjects and compound predicates got me all confused. That's it. I'm not a native speaker of English, so I have to learn everything from books or similar academic source. I don't have the luxury of learning by doing. I frequently visit British council site, Cambridge dictionary sites and the like. – user343802 Apr 19 '19 at 15:41
  • @user343802 I've incorporated your comment into the question. If you're not happy with my changes, or if you think of something else to add, or just want to change it further, please feel free to click the 'edit' link underneath the text and edit the question as you see fit. – Hellion Apr 19 '19 at 16:24
3

A compound sentence involves at least two independent clauses united by a conjunction, that is, if you were to read only one clause it would stand alone.

We sang and we danced. ("We sang" and "We danced" are independent clauses.)

We sang, but others danced. ("We sang" and "Others danced" are independent clauses.)

We sang so others could dance. ("We sang" and "Others could dance" are independent clauses.)

A compound predicate means that a subject has two predicates united by a conjunction . That's what your example is:

We sang and danced

"Danced" is not an independent clause but pertains to the same subject in a single independent clause. Using the compound predicate allows one to avoid having to repeat the subject:

We sang. We danced. (Repeats subject in two successive sentences.)

We sang and we danced. (Repeats subject in two successive independent clauses.)

We sang and danced. (Two successive predicates pertain to the same subject.)

So the simple test for telling between the two would be to look for whether each verb has its own explicit subject. If you cut off the conjunction and everything before, does it stand alone as a sentence?

As for the question of a "contracted predicate," you likely mean this interpretation where the second subject is omitted. The omission is marked with brackets:

We sang and [we] danced (reading an implied subject in "we sang and danced" to explain it as a compound sentence)

For the sake of simplicity, I would only suggest doing this interpretation if there is a clear need to differentiate two subjects. For instance, when I wrote this sentence above, it's a compound predicate with "danced" as its subject, but it would also make sense to read "it" (referring to "danced") as the subject of the second verb.

"Danced" is not an independent clause but pertains to the same subject in a single independent clause. (compound predicate)

"Danced" is not an independent clause, but it pertains to the same subject in a single independent clause. (compound sentence)

"Danced" is not an independent clause but [it] pertains to the same subject in a single independent clause. (compound sentence with omitted subject)

If you're curious why the first and third option are alike, John Lawler's answer on conjunction reduction is excellent. For the purposes of this answer, it's easy enough to call it a compound predicate, but it can also be thought of as a compound sentence with a reduction if you need to do so. The two are not mutually exclusive.

| improve this answer | |
  • Except that no one talks of 'conjunction reduction'. It's a simple case of a coordination of two VPs. – BillJ Apr 19 '19 at 18:07
  • 1
    Lots of people talk about conjunction reduction. Besides Lawler's answer, the Oxford Handbook of Ellipsis has an entire section on the subject: "Conjunction Reduction and Right-Node Raising." – TaliesinMerlin Apr 19 '19 at 18:26
  • 1
    @BillJ: Once again, we are to understand that you do not talk of "conjunction reduction", rather than that "no one" does so. Some people do, regardless. – John Lawler Apr 19 '19 at 21:44
  • @JohnLawler I haven't come across that expression for years (until now!), so I speak as I find. I think the analysis of "sang" and "danced" as a coordination of VPs is simpler and better (H&P think that too). – BillJ Apr 20 '19 at 6:57
  • @TaliesinMerlin The reference you cite deals with theoretical grammar and would be better dealt with over on Linguistics SE. – BillJ Apr 20 '19 at 6:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.