Academic Writing for International Students of Science - Jane Bottomley 2015
5.1 Combining ideas
5 Sentence structure 2
In this chapter you will look at different ways of combining elements in a sentence. You will also focus on an area which is often neglected, but which can greatly enhance the clarity and style of your writing: punctuation.
In Chapter 4, you looked at how clauses combine in sentences. In this chapter, you will look at how words and phrases can be used to add meaning to clauses, and to link ideas and sentences together.
Which of the underlined parts of the sentences is not a clause (i.e. a subject + verb structure 4.1)?
1) The drug was banned because there were serious adverse side effects.
2) The drug was banned because of the serious adverse side effects.
3) The drug had serious adverse side effects. Because of the seriousness of these side effects, the drug was banned.
4) The drug had serious adverse side effects. Because of this, it was banned.
5) The drug had serious adverse side effects. Consequently, it was banned.
6) The drug had serious side effects. As a result, it was banned.
In 1), the underlined part of the sentence is a subordinate clause ( 4.2.2). The underlined parts of 2), 3) and 4) are prepositional phrases, i.e. a preposition, because of, followed by a noun phrase ( Appendix 2 on noun phrases). In sentence 5), consequently is an adverb. In sentence 6), as a result is also a prepositional phrase. Both 5) and 6) function as sentence connectors. All the underlined parts are adverbials, used to add information about the situation ( 4.2.1).
5.1.1 Prepositional phrases
A prepositional phrase (preposition + noun) can occur in different positions, e.g.
✵ Unusual climatic events have occurred throughout the year.
✵ Thanks to government funding, the research is able to continue.
Some common examples of prepositions used in this way in academic writing are:
✵ Indicating time, duration or sequence: in; on; during; throughout; since; until; before; after; prior to
✵ Adding information: in addition to; as well as
✵ Indicating exception: except for; apart from
✵ Indicating cause: because of; as a result of; due to; owing to; thanks to; on account of
✵ Indicating concession: despite; in spite of; notwithstanding
✵ Introducing a focus: with regard to; in terms of
✵ Comparing and contrasting: in comparison with; in contrast to
✵ Specifying: with regard to; with respect to
Choose the correct preposition.
1) In spite of/As a result of measures introduced by the government to limit fuel emissions, pollution has continued to increase.
2) The patients in the study received chemotherapy in addition to/because of surgery.
3) In addition to/Owing to the risks involved, construction of the tunnel was abandoned.
4) Technology advanced rapidly throughout/since the industrial revolution.
5) The government agreed to fund the project, notwithstanding/apart from objections put forward by a number of renowned scientists.
5.1.2 Sentence connectors
Adverbs such as however and phrases such as in addition are often used at the beginning of a sentence to make a connection with the previous sentence. They can also sometimes appear in different positions (note the use of commas), e.g.
✵ However, the outcome was not positive for all patients.
✵ The outcome was not positive for all patients, however.
✵ The outcome was not, however, positive for all patients.
Some common examples of sentence connectors used in academic writing are:
✵ Sequencing: firstly; secondly; finally; to begin with; subsequently
✵ Adding information: also; in addition; furthermore; moreover
✵ Indicating result: therefore; consequently; as a result; hence; thus
✵ Comparing and contrasting: similarly; in contrast
✵ Indicating concession: however; nevertheless; nonetheless
✵ Emphasising: in fact; above all; on the contrary
✵ Rephrasing: in other words; that is to say
Note that the adverbs thereby, thus, and hence can be followed by a complete sentence or be added to a main clause and followed by____ing, e.g.
The tribe employ a range of preserving techniques. Thus, they reduce food waste.
The tribe employ a range of preserving techniques, thus reducing food waste.
Choose the correct expression.
1) The use of antibiotics in farming is increasing. Consequently/Moreover, resistance in the general population is decreasing.
2) The health service in the UK is funded through taxation. On the contrary/In contrast, the health service in the USA is based on private insurance.
3) Flood defences were constructed throughout the region. However/Therefore, many parts of the river broke through to flood the land.
4) Several buildings failed to withstand the earthquake. In addition/Subsequently, new building regulations were introduced.
5) Their data does not support current theories on rising sea levels. Hence/On the contrary, it seriously challenges them.
5.1.3 Controlling syntax
In this section, you will study and practise forming the different syntactic structures associated with conjunctions, prepositions and sentence connectors.
Decide which of these are not acceptable.
a) There is a huge amount of soil erosion in the area as a result of the high rainfall.
b) There is a huge amount of soil erosion in the area. As a result of the high rainfall.
c) Rainfall is high in this area. As a result of this, there is a huge amount of soil erosion.
d) Rainfall is high in this area. As a result, there is a huge amount of soil erosion.
a) In addition to their many useful built-in functions, smart phones run copious apps.
b) In addition to having many useful built-in functions, smart phones run copious apps.
c) Smart phones have many useful built-in functions. In addition, they run copious apps.
d) In addition their many useful built-in functions, smart phones run copious apps.
a) The drug was banned because of its serious adverse side effects.
b) The drug was banned because its serious side effects.
c) The drug had serious adverse side effects. Because of this, it was banned.
d) The drug was banned because there were serious adverse side effects.
e) The drug was banned. Because it had serious side effects.
a) Asbestos is still widely used in some countries, despite of the serious health risk.
b) Asbestos is still widely used in some countries in spite of/despite the serious health risk.
c) Asbestos is still widely used in some countries in spite of/despite being a serious health risk.
d) Asbestos is a serious health risk. In spite of/Despite this, it is still widely used in some countries.
e) Asbestos is still widely used in some countries in spite of/despite the fact that there is a serious health risk.
f) Asbestos is still widely used in some countries in spite of/despite there is a serious health risk.
Rewrite the sentences using the expressions given.
1) After studying computer science for a number of years, he did a PhD in software design. subsequently (sentence connector)
He studied ____________________________
2) It has been difficult for women to break into the field of science. Despite this, they have been responsible for many important discoveries.
although (subordinating conjunction)
3) Although the water subsided quickly after the flood, there was still a huge amount of damage.
however (sentence connector)
The water _____________________________
4) The patient was unable to sleep because he was stressed.
due to (preposition)
The patient ___________________________
5) Plastics are widely used because they are very versatile. In addition, they are extremely durable.
in addition to (preposition)
In addition to __________________________
6) Some antibacterial products kill bacteria; others only prevent them from multiplying.
7) This model of phone is very popular. It has a high degree of functionality.
owing to (preposition)
This model of phone_____________________
Think about how you could use this technique to produce a simple paraphrase of original sources. Chapter 7
Join the sentences in as many ways as you can, using the expressions given.
1) The treatment has a high success rate. It has not been adopted on a wide scale.
despite/in spite of
2) Huge areas of rain forest are being destroyed every day. The number of animal species found in these regions is declining.
3) Dyes have many industrial applications. They are also widely used in medicine.