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Compound Sentences Are Simple to Identify Using Song Titles

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You can call him The Joker, the Space Cowboy, or the Gangster of Love

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Titles Can Contain As Few As Three Words, As Demonstrated By The Beatles

Grammatically, the compound sentence is a complex concept, but a simple examination of a dozen or so song titles can provide a fun lesson in its elements. Famous artists as varied as The Beatles, Kiss and the Clash have all employed compound sentences in the names of their songs, but first it is necessary to give the formal definition of the grammatical concept.

A compound sentence connects two independent clauses joined by conjunctions such as and, or, but, or a semicolon. Either clause could stand alone as a sentence, differentiating a compound sentence from a complex sentence.

An album by the relatively unknown indie band the Minor Leagues serves as the perfect example, and it just so happens to be turning ten this year. It is called The Story Is Old I Know, But It Goes On, a compound sentence in that it's two independent clauses are separated by the conjunction but.

Here are sixteen other song titles that illustrate the idea of a compound sentence.

1. Honey Are You Straight Or Are You Blind? by Elvis Costello

Blood and Chocolate is the LP from whence this single spawned, a work that delighted fans of Costello's early days of punk pop.

2. The World Began In Eden But It Ended In L.A. by Phil Ochs

As somewhat of a morbid harbinger of the folk singer's premature death a few years later Rehearsals For Retirement, the album with this song on it, had on its cover a tombstone with his picture as well as his date of birth and his date of death.

3. We Are Here And This Is Is Nowhere by Bright Eyes

Conor Oberst included this ballad on the very creative I'm Wide Wake And It's Morning record, which in itself is a compound sentence.

4. Get Up And Boogie by K.C. and the Sunshine Band

Because of the implied second person as the subject, this disco hit is technically comprises two very short independent clauses joined by ten conjunction and.

5. Everything You wanted To Know About Sex But You Were Afraid To Ask by 10cc Not only is it the longest compound sentence on this list, but its album title also employs a pun, Look Hear.

6. Should I Stay Or Should I Go by the Clash

The famous question in this huge hit is pretty much answered when Joe Strummer admits "If I go there will be trouble, but If I stay it will be double." In fact, that admission is in itself a compound sentence.

7. Love Or Let Me Be Lonely by the Friends of Distinction

In 1970 this R&B classic cracked the Top Ten, and again it relies on the understood you as the subject for each of the short independent clauses.


8. Life Is a Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me) by Reunion

Fifteen years before rap became popular, this rapidly-spoken song was ubiquitous on AM radio.

9. WhisperandI'llListenToHearIt by Spoon

Brit Daniel for some reason decided to omit spaces between the words on this hit from Hot Thoughts, so it is no surprise that he also chose to forego the comma as well.

10. Come On And Love Me by Kiss

Dressed To Kill, the band's third album, is best known for "Rock and Roll All Night" but this is the title that fits the category.

11. Only You Know And I Know by Delaney and Bonnie

Because you read through these titles, now I know that you know how to distinguish a compound sentence.

12. Twist And Shout by The Beatles

Can three simple words serve as a compound sentence? They can if two of the words are commands and they are linked by a conjunction.

13. Take The Money And Run by the Steve Miller Band

Again you get the understood you as the subject, being commanded to do two acts around the conjunction.

14. Laugh Or Cry by Roger Taylor

This title from a solo album by the drummer from Queen follows the same format as "Twist and Shout", only its second command is not nearly as fun.

15. I'm Not Free, But I'm Cheap by Secret Affair

Glory Boys is the very underrated album by punk pop quartet of the early Eighties, and this excellent tongue in cheek gem closes it out.

16. It Takes a Lot To Laugh; It Takes a Train To Cry by Bob Dylan

Don't the semicolon look good, Mama, sitting between those clauses? The answer is yes, even though this question of course did not appear on the track from Highway 61 Revisited.

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