Monday, November 11

5 Sentence Combos

Combo” means “combination.” For example, when you go to a fast food restaurant like Mcdonalds, you will see many different combos to choose from.

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In learning English, there are also many Combos. Combos are very useful in making your English study faster and easier. If you know many good combos in English, you can avoid making mistakes, and you can speak faster and smoother.

Some examples of Word Combos are:

Adjective + Preposition

Verb + Noun

satisfied + with
good + at
interested + in
afraid + of


make + a mistake
have + an accident
segregate + garbage
take + medicine
Verb + Preposition


wait + for
listen + to
talk + to / with
complain + about


rain cats and dogs
top banana
break a leg
tip of the iceberg

As you can imagine, Combos are very practical because they are easy to remember. A good combo can be used in many situations. You can save time thinking about what word or phrase you will add or connect.

Sentence Combos

Today we’re going to learn some Sentence Combos in English. As you can guess from the name, Sentence Combos are longer than Word Combos. In the case of Sentence Combos, we are combining whole sentences; not only words.

Here are 5 useful Sentence Combos in the English language. It’ll be good for you to keep them in mind and to practice them.

1. S + Past while S + was Ving

2. S + had p.p. when S + Past

3. S + will base V when S + Present

4. S + will have p.p. when S + Present

5. No sooner had S + p.p. than S + Past

Of course like with many patterns and formulas in English, the 5 Combos above will not work 100% of the time.

But the great advantage of Combos is that they can make the difficult and long parts of English sentences become easier and simpler.


S + Past while S + was Ving

This Combo teaches us how to use the Past Continuous Tense (Was Ving) and the Conjunctionwhile.” 

Both Was Ving and while are used to talk about 2 past actions that happened at the same time.


He + knock + She + listen + music.

First of all, you have to know which is the shorter action and which is the longer one. Then you should put the shorter action at the beginning of your sentence.

Like this:


He knocked while she was listening to music. = Ok

You should make sure to combine “while” with the long action. Never combine “while” with the short action.


She was listening to music while he knocked. = X

But you can also switch the 2 sentences. You just need to change “while” to “when.”

She was listening to music when he knocked. = Ok


S + had p.p. when S + Past

This Combo teaches us about the Past Perfect. You can use the Past Perfect (Had P.P.) when you are talking about 2 actions that happened in sequence in the past.

In short, one action happened first (had p.p.) and then the other action (past).


(1) I wash my hands. >>>>> (2) I eat dinner.

I had washed my hands when I ate dinner.

When you use this Combo, make sure that you use the Had P.P. with the first action and you use the Past Simple with the second.

If you switch them, you will be wrong. Your meaning will be strange.

I had eaten dinner when I washed my hands. = X

The sentence above means that, first, you ate dinner and, second, you washed your hands.

Here’s another good example,

Kate had left when Ben arrived. = Ok

In our example sentence above, the situation is unfortunate because “Ben” missed the chance to see “Kate.” First, Kate left (had p.p.) and then, after that, Ben arrived (Past Simple).

You can also change the Conjunctionwhen.”

Lastly, the Past Perfect (had p.p.) is called the “Past of the Past.”

If you’d like to watch a short video about the Had P.P., just click:


S + will base V when S + Present

Many learners of English don’t know how to use the Future Tense properly.

Let’s have a simple test. What do you think of the sentence below?

I will talk to him when I will see him.

In fact, the sentence above is wrong. This is because you have 2 “will” words in your sentence. One isn’t needed.

I will talk to him when I will see him. = X

To use the Future Tense properly, you should remember that the second part of the sentence must be in the present, not future.


I will talk to him when I see him. = Ok

Even though the second part is in the present, its meaning is future.

Here’s another example:

He will be angry when he will know about it. = X

He will be angry when he knows about it. = Ok

We follow the same rule when we use “if.”

He will join if she joins. = Ok

For more info about “if” and “will,” just click:

So the next time you use the Future Tense, please keep in mind that the second part is in the present, not future. The second part comes after the Conjunctionwhen,” “if,” and many other time expressions.

Take a look:


S + will have p.p. when S + Present

This next Combo is similar to # 3, because it teaches us about the Future Perfect (will have p.p.).

If you want to use “Will Have P.P.,” it’s easy as long as you follow the rule of the Future Tense: you must use the present tense in the second part of the sentence.

Like this:

I will have eaten dinner when he comes home. = Ok

As you can see, it’s just like the other future sentences. But when you use Will Have P.P., please remember that one action will be ahead of another action.

For example,

(1) His daughter will marry. >>>>> (2) He will retire.

His daughter will have married when he retires.

And just like with Past Perfect (Had P.P.), you can use other Conjunctions aside from “when.”


No sooner had S + p.p. than S + Past

Among all our Sentence Combos, this last one is the most difficult.

But it won’t be too difficult if you keep in mind the Combo formula and follow it. Also, please understand that the meaning of the expression “no sooner… than” is similar to “as soon as.

For example,

As soon as I sat on the couch, the phone rang. = Ok

No sooner had I sat on the couch than the phone rang. = Ok

In short, both “as soon as” and “no sooner… than” mean that 2 actions happened almost at the same time.

Here are other examples:

As soon as I went out, it rained. = Ok

No sooner had I gone out than it rained. = Ok

To use the expression “no sooner… than,” you need to put the Past Perfect (Had P.P.) in the first part and the Past Simple in the second part.

No sooner had I gone out than it rained. = Ok

This last Combo is a little tricky to use because, in fact, the first part is in inverted order (V + S). It looks like a question, not a sentence. It’s strange because it doesn’t follow the normal order (S + V).

Here are more examples:

No sooner had I gone out…

No sooner had she realized…

No sooner had they paid…

Keep these small but important things in mind and you’ll be able to use the last Combo (no sooner… than) well.

In Summary

Combos save learners a lot of time and allow them to make longer and better sentences. But as you’ve seen from our examples above, you need time to practice and remember them.

Learn all 5 of our Combos by heart and you will have the power to make longer and better sentences.

Hope You Learned Something!

Keep on learning !

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