Combining Clauses into Sentence in TOPIK Intermediate

After 10 multiple choice questions on the Writing part, there will be 2 questions that require us to combine three clauses into one very good sentence. We need to be very careful in this part because each question worth 7 points, almost twice as many as the multiple choice part.

Here a sample of this type taken from TOPIK 29,

모르는 것이 있다 / 혼자 생각하다 / 언제든지 물어보다

Here are some useful guidelines to improve our scores in this section:

1. Use all of the three clauses

The instruction is clear, that we have to use ALL of the clauses to construct a sentence. Omitting one clause will cause very significant point lost. So no matter how hard the vocabularies that come out  in the test, how difficult to create link between them, we have to use ALL 3 of them. Period.

2. Do not re-order any clause

Another thing that we should not do is to re-arrange the clause. As the instruction said, we have to write the sentence based on the ORDER of the appearance of clauses in the questions. Even though some times the order does not make sense, we need to stick up with the given order.

3. Make correct use of grammar and logical meaning of sentence

One important aspect of this question is that we need to pick up the most suitable grammar. There are lots of grammar out there, many of them have slightly similar meaning, but with different use and specific usage. The more specific grammar that we use (provided that we use them in correct context), the more probability that it will fit better to the sentence.

Moreover, grammatically correct does not guarantee correct sentence. We need also to make sure that the sentence logically makes sense and meaningful. Daily used sentence or what we thing is correct could be different from what correct definition of TOPIK committee.

For example, we have the following clauses: 책에 나오다 / 해 보다 / 문제가 해결되다.

One time I wrote the sentence into: 책에 나오지 않았지만 해봤더니 문제가 해결됐다.

Such sentence is somehow fine with the grammar, but it is just not what TOPIK committee wants. It’s quite weird and unusual sentence. My teacher in class said that I can only get 4-5 points with that sentence.

The correct answer was: 책에 나오는 대로 해봐서 문제가 해결됐다.

4. Steps of organizing: create the links between 1st and 2nd clause, 1st and 3rd clause, then 2nd and 3rd clause

There are 3 clauses that somehow have some connection. Since mostly it’s quite hard to grasp the connection for all three of them, breaking it down into smaller group would be easier. Let’s start by finding the connection between the 1st and 2nd clause: whether it’s causal, sequential, inverse, etc. If there seems to be no obvious connection between the 1st and 3rd clauses, let’s then try to connect the 1st and 3rd clauses. Lastly, the connection between 2nd and 3rd clauses will complete our mission in arranging the sentence.

5. Use Intermediate  Grammar (for at least one clause)

In learning Korean, we found many grammar/expression that have quite similar meaning. While doing this type of questions we need to make sure to be selective in picking up grammar rule that we want to use: if we know more than 2 grammars that might combine the clauses, try to use the Intermediate rule over the Beginner rule.

6. There is a degree/level of points based on the answer

In the multiple choice questions, there are two distinct output result: 0 point for wrong answer and 4 points for correct one. However, in this combining clauses part, there are 8 degrees of points, ranging from as low as 0 point for nonsense answer and with the maximum of 7 points for correct answer. Therefore, no matter what happens, don’t leave this section empty. Even if you don’t know the meaning of several words, give your best guess and give it a try. While it would be hard to achieve 7 points, getting 3-5 points is high enough for level 3.

7. There are several answers with maximum point

Another interesting part about this section is that there is quite high possibility that different answers might give similar maximum points. In other words, you might have similar points with other persons even though your and their answers are different.

This also brings consequence of certainty of point-gain as long as you attempt to provide answer with logical sentence. As long as you do not leave the answer sheet empty and you do not write nonsense sentence, 1-2 point is guaranteed.

8. The more difficult a question, there will be less answer with full point (even only 1 answer)

However, there are some occurrences in which there will be only 1 possible sentence that gives maximum score and other alternatives will result in significantly lower points. Even though it will not happen quite often. Such cases normally happen with grammar/expression that have particular pattern that needs to be used in very specific occasion.

9. Determine the subject of every clause to determine the relation between clause

In many times, the subjects differ from clause to clause, but they might also be similar across clauses. By knowing whether the subject is first person or second person (or even third person, sometimes), it would be easier to interlink the clauses to form logical sentence.


Based on the aforementioned tips, the best answer for following question (taken from TOPIK 29) 모르는 것이 있다 / 혼자 생각하다 / 언제든지 물어보다 is 모르는 것이 있으면 혼자 생각하지말고 언제든지 물어보세요.