What Is a Compound Sentence? And How Can it Sing?

Cozy Grammar with Marie and Thomas

When we start learning grammar, certain terms can feel intimidating. What is a principal clause? What is a compound sentence? Ideas like these can be confusing and can make students anxious.

Yet knowing grammatical terms like these can help open the doors to excellence in writing and greater appreciation of beauty.

That's why Marie decided to perform and record a soundtrack of classical piano music to accompany Cozy Grammar's courses. As a master teacher and musician, she understood how music can help calm our nervous system, enhance our inborn ability to learn, and foster joyful creativity.

We're thus particularly delighted to announce that Marie's album, The Cozy Classroom Collection: Classical Piano Arrangements Conducive to Learning, is once again available on our website. I'll tell you more about it in a moment.

But first, let's take a look at these questions: What is a principal clause? What is a compound sentence?

I'd like to show you how these questions relate not simply to grammar, but also to the possibility of music in our language. The possibility of sentences that sing.

Take a peek at this month's first video excerpt, in which I explain what a clause is in the first place.

The music Marie is playing in the background, by the way, is Bach's Prelude No. 1 in C Major.

What Is A Compound Sentence?

With that definition of clauses in mind, we can now turn to the questions of what principal clauses are and how we can use them to form compound sentences.

In this month's second free excerpt, Marie gives a simple and clear definition of both of these ideas.

Here, instead of classical music, she draws on the calming and enlivening power of nature to make her lesson come alive. Nature can offer us a kind of visual music, a kind of visual harmony.

Grammar and Creativity

Most conventional lessons stop there, which is why most students forget all about grammar as soon as they're away from classrooms and textbooks.

But what Marie believed and what I believe is that grammar, gracefully taught and joyfully learned, can enhance both our creativity and our capacity to perceive beauty. Then it becomes unforgettable.

That's why we pair our lessons about grammar with creative writing activities. Here, for instance, is our creative writing activity for compound clauses:


Sentences That Sing

Knowing what a compound sentence is, in other words, needn't be the end of a lesson. It can also be a beginning. It can foster our appreciation and ability to write more powerfully, more easily, and more memorably.

Let me give you an example. Here is one of my favorite sentences from Madeline Miller's novel Circe, inspired by ancient Greek mythology. Circe, an extraordinary healer, is describing the coming of spring:

"The sky opened its hands, and the earth swelled to meet it."

Notice how two principal clauses, joined with the conjunction and, paint a beautiful picture of heaven and earth. And they do so with a kind of verbal music, a balancing of two parts, which a compound sentence can allow us to express.

Imagine you are a king or queen of a seaside kingdom. One evening, several distinguished guests arrive from a land of forested hills. Because night has already fallen, they haven’t yet had a chance to look around, but they are eager to know about your realm.

Describe your seaside kingdom using as many compound sentences as you can. Try varying the length of the principal clauses, and if necessary, use a comma before the conjunctions to keep the meaning clear. Make your description as vivid as you can, so that your guests are all the more excited to see the place with their own eyes the next morning.

Then show what you’ve written to someone who appreciates sentences!

Compound Possibilities

All of which connects to the kind of music Marie plays in her soundtrack to Cozy Grammar's courses.

She has carefully selected classical piano music that contains an element called counterpoint. That simply means that the music has two or more musical lines that combine and complement each other.

Just as a compound sentence contains two or more principal clauses that combine and complement each other.

This kind of contrapuntal music not only fosters deeper learning, but can also help us combine the right and left sides of our brains to become more whole and integrated people.

Here's a recent video in which I talk more about this kind of music. The piece in the background is Bach's Goldberg Variation 22, included in The Cozy Classroom Collection.

The Cozy Classroom Collection

And so we're very happy to announce that Marie's beloved Cozy Classroom Collection: Classical Piano Arrangements Conducive to Learning is now available for download.

We'll be releasing a new album from Marie every month for the next nine months, so be sure to stay subscribed for the latest news.

Thank You!

Thank you for joining us this month, and don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

You can contact us through our website and we'll answer your questions as quickly as we can.

Did you notice, by the way, that both of those sentences are compound sentences?

Of course you did!

I hope this finds you and your family happy, healthy, and joyful. All of us at Cozy Grammar wish you the very best for the winter holidays.



Marie's Language Consultant
The Cozy Grammar Series of Courses