Tag Archive | subordination

The Complexity of Relationships: Choosing Your Personal and Syntactical Connections Wisely

Image taken from Google Images

Image taken from Google Images

Maybe you don’t recognize what you got between your eyes (well)

So I’m gonna set you correct so you can get what you should get (well)

Intuition’s something sweet (well)

Let you know what you know, let you find before you seek (well)

Spirit of discernment, pray for it everyday (well)

Let you know who should go and who you should let stay (well)

There’s power in them rolling hills, come on

You’re a prize possession, not everybody’s worthy

Only reason I know is cause I headed down that road

And it’d be a shame for you not to have your own glow, Come on (well)

—“Rolling Hills” Jill Scott

We commonly use Venn diagrams to show the likenesses and differences between two things or to illustrate the inclusiveness of data in mathematics. As a teacher, I have used them to teach comparison and contrast as a reading skill and as a rhetorical form.

Venn diagrams can also be applied to relationships.  We have to take care in choosing with whom we let into our inner circle.  A part of that person’s personality, essence, and aura is absorbed into our space.  Our interaction with that person creates spiritual ties, and those ties change us, for better or worse.

We cannot let just anyone enter our aura, spirit, or space.  “There’s power in them rolling hills” as Jill Scott sings, or power in our aura.  An ideal interaction involves someone teaching us the many definitions of consummate love and showing us the complexity of humanity as his or her life experiences enrich our perspective.  Our individual power or selves remain intact.

With a toxic relationship, we absorb negative qualities that attach themselves to us and mutate the original, double-helix script inside of us.  We are Bruce Banner evolving into the Incredible Hulk: We lose who we are and become who he or she is. Our power, our individual selves do not remain intact.

When a person ends a relationship, he or she can drain our power and weaken us. Then we become like Gotye: our spiritual landscape, a patchwork featuring swaths of experience that mark where that person has been, our bedrooms darkened, Ben & Jerry’s cartons creating a new type of Berber carpet, Gotye’s words on repeat–“But you didn’t have to cut me off/Make it like it never happened and that we were nothing/ Now you’re just somebody that I used to know.”

Believe it or not, Venn diagrams have a unique connection to more than personal relationships.  Let’s look at how and where our personal and syntactical areas of our lives and writing intersect.

Simple Sentences (1 independent clause)

Venn diagrams are composed of two separate circles.  Each circle represents an individual, whole and complete.  The circle already has everything it needs.  It can have a private party if it wants to as India Arie sings, “ I’m havin’ a private party/ learning how to love me/ celebrating the woman I’ve become, yeah/ Sometimes I’m alone but never lonely/That’s what I’ve come to realize.”

Simple sentences have what they need: a subject, a predicate, a complete thought, and punctuation. The punctuation is the key part because it sets the boundaries of where they begin and end. The same boundaries define each circle of a Venn diagram or each person of a relationship.

Examples of Simple Sentences

The clouds parted and wept droplets from heaven.

Sand swirled into the black sky.

Dolphins arose from their underwater haven.

Compound Sentences (1 independent clause + 1 independent clause)

When two circles join together, they have a common, central point where they meet and become one.  There are no broken lines in their boundaries; they remain intact.  There are no open spaces, incomplete areas, or leftover wounds to be filled by this new relationship. Their union retains their individual components as it forms a new entity in the middle. They establish interdependence.

Compound sentences are two independent clauses who join together to create a new meaning, but the relationship that is tying them together does not rob them of their original selves.  If the relationship ends, they are still complete.  Whether connected by semicolons, coordinating conjunctions, or semicolons and conjunctive adverbs, the two independent clauses become intricately involved, but they do need the other to complete them.

Hence they are the representation of a healthy relationship, personally or syntactically.

Examples of Compound Sentences

Her body sank into the depths of the ocean, and the pain oozed out of her.

She lost consciousness; her spirit longed to become one with God.

Her limbs sprawled out like a starfish; however, something inside wouldn’t allow her to let go.

Complex Sentences (1 independent clause + 1 dependent clause)

When two circles attach to each other, the point of connection may have some gaps. One circle may also overlap too much on the other circle.  The relationship becomes one of dependence.  One cannot exist without the other.  The addition of their union makes their interaction complex.

The addition of one word, in this case, a subordinating conjunction (if, as,unless, after, because, when, while), eliminates or breaks the boundaries that makes each circle independent. The circle loses a sense of self and undertakes a new meaning.

When an independent clause or circle is removed and the relationship is severed, but parts of it still linger behind in the subordinate conjunction, the other independent clause or circle is left incomplete with only the words of Amy Winehouse to soothe it:  “He walks away/ the sun goes down/he takes the day but I’m grown/And in your way/ in this deep shade/my tears dry.”

The subordinate word symbolizes a wound in the boundaries of us.  We seek the other to fill the emptiness inside. Our relationship becomes one of subordination: what we need to make us complete determines the context of meaning in the relationship.  Like in complex sentences, the addition of what is missing determines if it is a sentential relationship of time, condition, addition, or cause and effect.

Examples of Complex Sentences

Sea gulls dipped in and out of the water as if they were possessed.

When she swam further out, her body became lighter and lighter.

Her mind descended into the deeper layers of her subconscious while a torrent of emotion flooded her being.

Compound-Complex Sentences (2 independent clauses + 1 or more dependent clauses)

There are Venn diagrams that have more than two overlapping circles.  They still meet in the middle, but their individual components remain intact.  Those additional circles add more completeness and complexity to the overall relationships.  The tapestry of meaning enriches and grows into something more, leaving an impact on all involved.  Those additions can be seen as children or each other’s families joining as one.

Compound-complex sentences are all inclusive.  Two independent clauses are present and they welcome an indefinite number of dependent clauses to share in the grammatical love.  Think of William Faulkner’s and Toni Morrison’s sentences and how just one of them can take up a whole page.

Compound-complex sentences are a combination of a compound sentence and a complex sentence.

Examples of Compound-Complex Sentences

The following examples are taken from the following link: http://www.epcc.edu/collegereadiness/documents/complex_sentences.pdf

Although thought to be indestructible, the Twin Towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001, and that forever changed the NYC skyline.

The Twin Towers were destroyed by terrorists, who thought they could tear the US apart, but instead, this tragedy brought the US people together.


Here is an example of Faulkner’s style listed below and taken from this link: http://www.stylustutors.com/uncategorized/grammar-tip-of-the-day-run-on-sentences

It is a great use of a succession of compound-complex sentences to create a stream-of-consciousness effect, perfect for characterization in a novel or short story.

“Monday is no different from any other weekday in Jefferson now. The streets are paved now, and the telephone and electric companies are cutting down more and more of the shade trees–the water oaks, the maples and locusts and elms–to make room for iron poles bearing clusters of bloated and ghostly and bloodless grapes, and we have a city laundry which makes the rounds on Monday morning, gathering the bundles of clothes into bright-colored, specially-made motor cars: the soiled wearing of a whole week now flees apparition like behind alert and irritable electric horns, with a long diminishing noise of rubber and asphalt like tearing silk, and even the Negro women, who still take in white people’s washing after the old custom, fetch and deliver it in automobiles.”

Varying sentence variety expands the horizon of our writing.  Interacting with various people throughout our lives enables us to grow into our better selves. When choosing significant others or dependent clauses for relationships, like Toyota says, “choose wisely.”

How will you choose today?