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Subordination and Coordination | Worked example

Watch David work through a subordination and coordination question from the Praxis Core Writing test.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] Given that the Sweets and Snacks Expo, a yearly trade show in Chicago's McCormick Place, is sponsored by the National Confectioners' Association, but it might seem ironic that healthy, plant-based snacks were trending in 2018's expo. So this is an error ID question. We've got four underlined parts of the sentence plus no error. We need to identify but not fix the error. So this is a pretty long sentence. I'd like to begin by taking its temperature and figuring out how many clauses it has and what those clauses are. All right so we've got given that, which begins a clause. This is a subordinating conjunction. And that begins dependent clauses. So if this is all one dependent clause, that's an error because a dependent clause can't be a sentence on its own, or if there's another dependent clause attached to it, that's also an error because that's still a sentence fragment. Neither of those, just because you knit together two dependent clauses, doesn't turn them into an independent clause. It's not like a grammatical two wrongs make a right kinda situation. Dependent clause plus another dependent clause does not an independent clause make. So we've got our conjunction. Let's hunt for our subject. Sweets and Snacks Expo, that's our subject. Is sponsored by, there's our verb. Here's a comma that marks the end of that clause, and now we've got a new clause beginning with a different conjunction, and that's but. But it might seem ironic. So subject and then might seem is our verb phrase. But is interesting because that is a coordinating conjunction. And coordinating conjunctions are only used to unite one independent clause with another. Sorry they unite, let's make that plural. Coordinating conjunctions unite independent clauses. So that's mighty strange. All right so we've done that. We figured out that there are two clauses in this sentence. Before we've even gotten to any of the answer choices, it really seems like but is probably our answer because this first clause here, this blue clause, is a dependent, not an independent clause, which means it's not grammatical to connect it to another clause with but. Since this is an error ID question, all we need to do is chose the answer. We don't need to explain how we would fix the sentence, but if I were to fix the sentence, I would just delete the word but. Given that the Sweets and Snacks Expo is sponsored by the National Confectioners' Association, it might seem ironic that healthy, plant-based snacks were trending. So I'm gonna put a little star by but because I think this is our answer, but I'm gonna prove it by going through the other answer choices. So we've got yearly trade show. And whenever I see yearly in an underline, I wanna look to see if there are other redundancies throughout the sentence, if it says each year somewhere else or annual. And it does not, so great. Now the question is, does yearly accurately describe trade show? Are we using this modifier correctly? And the answer is yes. Don't need to think about that too hard. Chicago's, Chicago's, okay so Chicago is appropriately capitalized. It is a proper noun. This apostrophe is in the correct place to show possession because McCormick Place, the next thing, is in Chicago. So this is correct usage of possessive apostrophe. Sponsored by, we wanna see if by is the conventional preposition to use after sponsored. It is, this is a conventional usage in English. So now it's really between whether or not there is no error or that it's incorrect to have two conjunctions, given that and but, in the same sentence. But but is incorrect because we have this dependent clause here, and we have this independent clause here. And again, and you can't use a coordinating conjunction like but to connect an independent clause to a dependent clause. So this is our answer. I'm gonna cross off no error. Now you might be saying, like how do I know when it's a coordinating versus subordinating conjunction? And it's true, there are dozens of subordinating conjunctions, like tons of 'em. However, there are only seven coordinating conjunctions for which there is a very useful mnemonic. And that mnenomic is FANBOYS. So the coordinating conjunctions of English correspond to FANBOYS, and they are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. And each of these can, you guessed it, united independent clauses with one another. So here's your strategy. If you see a conjunction underlined, ask yourself, is it a FANBOYS conjunction, and then looking at the clause that the conjunction is attached to, ask yourself, what kind of clause is it? Is it dependent or independent? And if it's either of those things, is it breaking any rules of how dependent and independent clauses are meant to behave? So there are a number of ways you could fix this sentence. One of them would be to get rid of the word but. If you could change anything about it, you could also just get rid of given that, which would make this an independent clause and connect it to this independent clause. That would also be perfectly acceptable. But because of the constraints that we are working within, our only recourse would be to say but is the error and to get rid of it.