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Types of Sentences. Mme Adèle Scott. The Simple Sentence. The most basic type of sentence is the simple sentence , which contains only one clause. . A simple sentence can be as short as one word : Run ! .

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types of sentences

Types of Sentences

Mme Adèle Scott

the simple sentence
The Simple Sentence
  • The most basic type of sentence is the simple sentence, whichcontainsonly one clause.
Usually, however, the sentence has a subject as well as a predicate and both the subject and the predicatemay have modifiers.
  • The subjectiswhat (or whom) the sentence is about, while the predicate tells something about the subject. In the following sentences, the predicateisenclosed in braces ({}), while the subjectishighlighted.

Judy {runs}.

Judy and her dog {run on the beacheverymorning}.

the predicate
The Predicate
  • To determine the subject of a sentence, first isolate the verb and thenmake a question by placing "who?" or "what?" beforeit -- the answeris the subject.

The audience littered the theatrefloorwithtornwrappings and spilled popcorn.

The verb in the above sentence is "littered." Who or whatlittered? The audience did. "The audience" is the subject of the sentence. The predicate (whichalwaysincludes the verb) goes on to relate something about the subject: what about the audience? It "littered the theatrefloorwithtornwrappings and spilled popcorn."

  • A modifiercanbe an adjective, an adverb, or a phrase or clause acting as an adjective or adverb In every case, the basic principleis the same: the modifier adds information to anotherelement in the sentence.
All of the following are simple sentences, becauseeachcontainsonly one clause:



The icemeltsquickly.

The ice on the river meltsquicklyunder the warm March sun.

Lyingexposedwithoutitsblanket of snow, the ice on the river meltsquicklyunder the warm March sun.

As youcansee, a simple sentence canbequite long -- itis a mistake to thinkthatyoucan tell a simple sentence from a compound sentence or a complex sentence simply by itslength.
The mostnatural sentence structure is the simple sentence: itis the first kindwhichchildrenlearn to speak, and itremains by far the mostcommon sentence in the spokenlanguage of people of all ages. In writtenwork, simple sentences canbevery effective for grabbing a reader's attention or for summing up an argument, but you have to use themwith care: toomany simple sentences canmakeyourwritingseemchildish.
Whenyou do use simple sentences, youshouldaddtransitional phrases to connectthem to the surrounding sentences.
the compound sentence
The Compound Sentence
  • A compound sentence consists of two or more independent clauses (or simple sentences) joined by co-ordinating conjunctions like "and," "but," and "or":
how are they formed
How are theyformed?
  • Simple
  • Canada is a rich country.
  • Simple
  • Still, it has many poor people.
  • Compound
  • Canada is a rich country, but still it has many poor people.
Compound sentences are very natural for English speakers -- small children learn to use them early on to connect their ideas and to avoid pausing (and allowing an adult to interrupt):
what not to do
What NOT to do!
  • Today at school Mr. Moore brought in his pet rabbit, and he showed it to the class, and I got to pet it, and Kate held it, and we coloured pictures of it, and it ate part of my carrot at lunch, and ...
  • Of course, this is an extreme example, but if you over-use compound sentences in written work, your writing might seem immature.
A compound sentence is most effective when you use it to create a sense of balance or contrast between two (or more) equally-important pieces of information:
  • Montréal has better clubs, but Toronto has better cinemas.
coordinating conjunctions
  • The simple, littleconjunctions are calledcoordinatingconjunctions. They all have fewerthan four letters. You canrememberthem by using the acronymFANBOYS: For-And-Nor-But-Or-Yet-So
special cases of compound sentences
Special Cases of Compound Sentences
  • There are two special types of compound sentences which you might want to note. First, rather than joining two simple sentences together, a co-ordinating conjunction sometimes joins two complex sentences, or one simple sentence and one complex sentence. In this case, the sentence is called a compound-complex sentence:
compound complex
  • The package arrived in the morning, but the courier left before I could check the contents.
The second special case involves punctuation. It is possible to join two originally separate sentences into a compound sentence using a semicolon instead of a co-ordinating conjunction:
  • Sir John A. Macdonald had a serious drinking problem; when sober, however, he could be a formidable foe in the House of Commons.
Usually, a conjunctive adverb like "however" or "consequently" will appear near the beginning of the second part, but it is not required:
  • The sun rises in the east; it sets in the west.
the complex sentence
The Complex Sentence
  • A complex sentence contains one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. Unlike a compound sentence, however, a complex sentence contains clauses which are not equal. Consider the following examples:
  • My friend invited me to a party. I do not want to go.
  • Compound
  • My friend invited me to a party, but I do not want to go.
  • Complex
  • Although my friend invited me to a party, I do not want to go.
In the first example, there are two separate simple sentences: "My friend invited me to a party" and "I do not want to go." The second example joins them together into a single sentence with the co-ordinating conjunction "but," but both parts could still stand as independent sentences -- they are entirely equal, and the reader cannot tell which is most important. In the third example, however, the sentence has changed quite a bit: the first clause, "Although my friend invited me to a party," has become incomplete, or a dependent clause.
A complex sentence is very different from a simple sentence or a compound sentence because it makes clear which ideas are most important. When you write 
  • My friend invited me to a party. I do not want to go.
  • or even
  • My friend invited me to a party, but I do not want to go. 
  • The reader will have trouble knowing which piece of information is most important to you. When you write the subordinating conjunction "although" at the beginning of the first clause, however, you make it clear that the fact that your friend invited you is less important than, or subordinate, to the fact that you do not want to go.
  • Written by David Megginson; adapted by Adèle Scott
glossary of terms
Glossary of terms
  • subject - The subjectiswhat (or whom) the sentence isabout.
  • predicate – The predicatetells something about the subject.
  • modifiers - A modifiercanbe an adjective, an adverb, or a phrase or clause acting as an adjective or adverb In every case, the basic principleis the same: the modifier adds information to anotherelement in the sentence.
verb - The verbisperhaps the most important part of the sentence. A verb or compound verbassertssomething about the subject of the sentence and express actions, events, or states of being. The verb or compound verbis the criticalelement of the predicate of a sentence.
  • adjective - An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun by describing, identifying, or quantifyingwords. An adjective usuallyprecedes the noun or the pronounwhichit modifies.
  • adverb - An adverbcanmodify a verb, an adjective, anotheradverb, a phrase, or a clause. An adverbindicatesmanner, time, place, cause, or degree and answers questions such as "how," "when," "where," "how much".
phrase - A collection of grammatically-relatedwordswithout a subject or without a predicateiscalled a phrase.
  • clause - A clauseis a collection of grammatically-relatedwordsincluding a predicate and a subject (thoughsometimes the subjectisimplied).
  • sentence - Everycompletesentencecontainstwo parts: a subject and a predicate.
types of c lauses
Types of clauses
  • independent clauses - If a clausecan stand alone as a sentence, itis an independent clause.
  • dependent clause - Some clauses, however, cannot stand alone as sentences: in this case, they are dependent clauses or subordinate clauses.
conjunctive adverb
  • conjunctiveadverb - You can use a conjunctiveadverb to jointwo clauses together.
  • Someof the mostcommonconjunctiveadverbs are "also," "consequently," "finally," "furthermore," "hence," "however," "incidentally," "indeed," "instead," "likewise," "meanwhile," "nevertheless," "next," "nonetheless," "otherwise," "still," "then," "therefore," and "thus." A conjunctiveadverbisnotstrongenough to jointwoindependent clauseswithout the aid of a semicolon.
co ordinating conjunction
  • coordinatingconjunctions - You use a co-ordinatingconjunction ("and," "but," "or," "nor," "for," "so," or "yet") to joinindividualwords, phrases, and independent clauses. Note thatyoucanalso use the conjunctions "but" and "for" as prepositions.
  • semi-colon - You willusually use the semicolon to linkindependent clauses not joined by a co-ordinating conjunction. Semicolonsshouldjoinonlythoseindependent clauses that are closelyrelated in meaning.
subordinating conjunction
  • subordinatingconjunction - A subordinatingconjunctionintroduces a dependent clause and indicates the nature of the relationshipamong the independent clause(s) and the dependent clause(s).
  • The mostcommonsubordinatingconjunctions are "after," "although," "as," "because," "before," "how," "if," "once," "since," "than," "that," "though," "till," "until," "when," "where," "whether," and "while."