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(On board)

Basic Sentence Patterns in English

Every sentence in English (except interjections) has a subject and a verb. The subject is
either a noun or a pronoun. The verb is either an action verb or a helping verb.

There are several basic sentence patterns in English.

Basic Sentences

SUBJECT PREDICATE
Noun/Pronoun Verb
Michelle swims.
They are laughing.
Noun/Pronoun Verb Noun/Pronoun
Their teacher is holding a book.
Renukha is eating ice cream.
Noun/Pronoun Verb Adjective
Mary Is smart
He Is quite tall.
Noun/Pronoun Verb Prepositional Phrase
Tzzy Jiun studied for the SPM test.
The dog waited for its owner yesterday.
Noun/Pronoun Verb Adverb
Que Xi swims Daily
We are walking Slowly

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SIMPLE, COMPOUND AND COMPLEX SENTENCES

Experienced writers use a variety of sentences to make their writing interesting and lively.
Too many simple sentences, for example, will sound choppy and immature while too many
long sentences will be difficult to read and hard to understand.

This page contains definitions of simple, compound, and complex sentences with many simple
examples. The purpose of these examples is to help the ESL/EFL learner to identify sentence
basics including identification of sentences in the short quizzes that follow. After that, it
will be possible to analyze more complex sentences varieties.

SIMPLE SENTENCE

A simple sentence, also called an independent clause, contains a subject and a verb, and it
expresses a complete thought. In the following simple sentences, subjects are in yellow, and
verbs are in green.

A. Some students like to study in the mornings.


B. Juan and Arturo play football every afternoon.
C. Alicia goes to the library and studies every day.

The three examples above are all simple sentences. Note that sentence B contains a
compound subject, and sentence C contains a compound verb. Simple sentences, therefore,
contain a subject and verb and express a complete thought, but they can also contain a
compound subjects or verbs.

COMPOUND SENTENCE

A compound sentence contains two independent clauses joined by a coordinator. The


coordinators are as follows: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. (Helpful hint: The first letter of
each of the coordinators spells FANBOYS.) Except for very short sentences, coordinators are
always preceded by a comma. In the following compound sentences, subjects are in yellow,
verbs are in green, and the coordinators and the commas that precede them are in red.

A. I tried to speak Spanish, and my friend tried to speak English.


B. Alejandro played football, so Maria went shopping.
C. Alejandro played football, for Maria went shopping.

The above three sentences are compound sentences. Each sentence contains two
independent clauses, and they are joined by a coordinator with a comma preceding it. Note
how the conscious use of coordinators can change the relationship between the clauses.
Sentences B and C, for example, are identical except for the coordinators. In sentence B,
which action occurred first? Obviously, "Alejandro played football" first, and as a
consequence, "Maria went shopping. In sentence C,

"Maria went shopping" first. In sentence C, "Alejandro played football" because, possibly, he
didn't have anything else to do, for or because "Maria went shopping." How can the use of
other coordinators change the relationship between the two clauses? What implications
would the use of "yet" or "but" have on the meaning of the sentence?

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COMBINING SENTENCES

CombingSENTENCE
COMPLEX simple sentences to make complex sentences is an important exercise to help you advance in
your writing abilities. This writing exercise focuses on taking simple sentences and transforming them
into complex
A complex sentences
sentence has which are then combined
an independent clause into a paragraph.
joined by one or more dependent clauses. A
complex sentence always has a subordinator such as because, since, after, although, or when
or aSimple
relative pronoun
Sentence -> such as that,
Complex who, or which. In the following complex sentences,
Sentence
subjects are in yellow, verbs are in green, and the subordinators and their commas (when
required) are in red.
Example: Tom is a boy. He is eight years old. He goes to school in Philadelphia.

Complex Sentence: -> Tom is an eight-year old boy who goes to school in Philadelphia.
A. When he handed in his homework, he forgot to give the teacher the last page.
Hereteacher
B. The are somereturned
simple rules
thetohomework
remember when
after combining simple
she noticed sentences into complex sentences:
the error.
C. The students are studying because they have a test tomorrow.
D. After
they finished
Don't studying, Juan and Maria went to the movies.
repeat words
E. Juan
and Maria words
Change went iftonecessary
the movies after they finished studying.
Add words to connect ideas
When a complex sentence begins with a subordinator such as sentences A and D, a comma is
required
Complex at the end ofExercise
Sentence the dependent clause. When the independent clause begins the
sentence with subordinators in the middle as in sentences B, C, and E, no comma is required.
If a comma is placed before the subordinators in sentences B, C, and E, it is wrong.
Combine the following sentences into complex sentences. Remember that a number of answers may
Notebe that
correct. Click onDthe
sentences andfollowing page
E are the to compare
same exceptyour answers
sentence D following pagethe
begins with to compare your
dependent
answers with two possible paragraphs.
clause which is followed by a comma, and sentence E begins with the independent clause
which contains no comma. The comma after the dependent clause in sentence D is required,
andHis
experienced listeners of English will often hear a slight pause there. In sentence E,
name is Peter.
however, there will
He's a famous be no pause
professional when the independent clause begins the sentence.
athlete.
He's a baseball player.
COMPLEX SENTENCES / ADJECTIVE CLAUSES
He has a large house in Miami.
The house
Finally, is beautiful.
sentences containing adjective clauses (or dependent clauses) are also complex
because they contain an independent clause and a dependent clause. The subjects, verbs,
andHe
subordinators are marked
often travels around the US.the same as in the previous sentences, and in these sentences,
theHe
independent
plays away games in are
clauses also underlined.
different cities in the US.
He travels by airplane.

He usually sleeps on the plane.


A. The woman
He stays who(m)
up late my mom talked to sells cosmetics.
after games.
B. The book that Jonathan read is on the shelf.
C. The house which Abraham Lincoln was born in is still standing.
He istown
D. The an excellent
where pitcher.
I grew up is in the United States.
Fans love his abilities.
Coaches love his abilities.
Adjective Clauses are studied in this site separately, but for now it is important to know that
sentences containing adjective clauses are complex.
Every week he plays a home game.
The game is played in Glover Stadium.
CONCLUSION
The game is usually sold out.
Remember that with the skill to write good simple, compound, and complex sentences, you
willGlover Stadium
have the is old. to (1) convey your ideas precisely and (2) entertain with sentence
flexibility
Glover
variety at Stadium
the same doesn't
time!have enough seats for all the fans.

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The fans wait in line to buy tickets.
The fans often pay more than $60 dollars for a ticket.

The fans are unhappy about the ticket prices.


The fans love Peter.

answer key-

Here are two possible paragraph answers to this exercise. Compare your answer with these examples.
Remember that there is more than one possible correct answer for each sentence.

Complex Sentence - Possible Paragraph 1

Peter is a famous baseball player. He lives in a beautiful house in Miami. He often flies around the
United States to play away games. Both fans and coaches love his excellent pitching abilities. Every
week he plays home games in Glover Stadium which is usually sold out. Glover Stadium is an old
stadium without enough seats for all the fans. Fans wait in line to buy the tickets which often cost
more than $60. Even though the fans are unhappy about ticket prices, they love Peter.

Complex Sentence - Possible Paragraph 2

Peter is a famous baseball player who lives in a beautiful house in Miami. He often flies to different
cities around the United States to play away games. His excellent pitching is loved by both fans and
coaches. Old Glover Stadium doesn't have enough seats for the fans who want to come to home
games. Even though they are unhappy about ticket prices, the wait in line and pay more than $60 to
see Peter play.

WRITING GOOD SENTENCES

If you continually use short sentences in your writing, your paragraphs will sound
very choppy. Read this paragraph and notice how it sounds.

It was my birthday. I ask for a bike. My parents bought me a red bike. It had
white strips on the fenders. I like to ride my bike everywhere. I like to ride on
smooth payment best. I am not allowed to ride on the sidewalk. People walk on
the side walk. If I have time. I ride on the bike trail in the park.

To make your writing more interesting, you can combine the short sentences to make
longer sentences. The longer sentences can be either compound or complex. Read
the revised paragraph below. Notice how the paragraph flows much better with
longer sentences.

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It was my birthday, so I ask for a bike. My parents bought me a red bike, and
it had white strips on the fenders. I like to ride my bike everywhere, but I like to
ride on smooth payment best. I am not allowed to ride on the sidewalk because
people walk on the sidewalk. Whenever I have time, I ride on the bike trail in the
park.

Did you notice the kind of changes that were made in the second paragraph?
Conjunctions and commas were used to connect the sentences.

What are conjunctions? The most common conjunctions used in compound


sentences are:

and, as, but, or, so

When you make a compound sentence you are joining two or more simple sentences
together with a conjunction and a comma. If you took the conjunction away, the
sentences would be complete and they would still make sense. Look at this example:

Sentence 1: I like to ride my bike everywhere


Sentence 2: I like to ride on smooth pavement best

Compound sentence: I like to ride my bike everywhere, but I like to ride on


smooth pavement best.

Complex sentences use conjunctions and sometimes commas also. However,


complex sentences don't just divide into neat, complete, simple sentences if you take
out the conjunctions. In complex sentences the conjunction is used to join together
clauses.

These conjunctions are used most often in complex sentences:

after, although, because, before, until, since, when, whenever, while

What is a clause? A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb.
Sometimes clauses are complete short sentences, but in a complex sentence at least
one of them will depend on the conjunction for its meaning. This means if you take
the conjunction away, the sentence won't divide into complete units that make sense
by themselves. Look at these examples:

Clause 1: I am not allowed to ride on the sidewalk


Clause 2: People walk on the sidewalk

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Complex sentence: I am not allowed to ride on the sidewalk because
people walk on the sidewalk.

Clause 1: If I have time


Clause 2: I ride on the bike trail in the park

Complex sentence: Whenever I have time, I ride on the bike trail in the
park.

Changing sentences

Can you join these sentences with an interesting connective and then change it around
using a different one? Write both sentences in your book.

E.g. Mum was reading. It was very late.


Mum was reading and it was very late.
Although it was very late, Mum was reading.

1) We went out to play. We had our lunch.

2) We went on a trip. We all enjoyed ourselves.

3) The teacher was cross. The boy was naughty.

4) Jenny went to sleep. She was tired.

5) The weather was lovely. We played on the beach.

Task 1 : Extend these sentences using:

if so while since though

Examples:

The cat sat on the mat.


The cat sat on the mat so that he could curl up and go to sleep.
The cat sat on the mat while he was waiting for his tea.
If the weather was cold outside the cat always sat on the mat in front of the fire.
The cat sat on the mat since it was the warmest place in the room.
Though the cat was really hungry for its tea it sat patiently on the mat.

1. It was cold outside.


2. Jane was bored.
3. Jack went out to play.

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4. Dad lit the fire.
5. We walked down the road.

Task 2: Use the following words to give more information about someone or something:

who whose which that

Examples:
The girl walked into the classroom.

The girl, who had long red hair, walked swiftly into the classroom.

The girl, whose red hair sparkled as the light caught it, walked slowly and confidently into the
classroom.

The girl walked into the classroom, which by now was filled with children.

The girl, who was now feeling extremely nervous, walked steadily into the classroom, which by now
was filled with people, who were busily getting ready for the start of the day.

The girl walked into the classroom that had been allocated to her on arrival at the school earlier this
morning.

1. The house was in front of her.


2. Jake skipped down the road.
3. The cat sat on the mat.
4. There was a large field.
5. They could see fields.

SENTENCE COMBINING

Let's consider an example. Start by looking at this list of eight short (and repetitive) sentences:

She was our Latin teacher.


We were in high school.
She was tiny.
She was a birdlike woman.
She was swarthy.
She had dark eyes.
Her eyes were sparkling.
Her hair was graying.

Now try combining those sentences into three, two, or even just one clear and coherent sentence: in
the process of combining, omit repetitive words and phrases (such as "She was") but keep all of the
original details.
Our Latin teacher in high school was a tiny woman. She was swarthy and birdlike. She had
dark, sparkling eyes and graying hair.
When we were in high school, our Latin teacher was a tiny woman. She was swarthy and
birdlike, with dark, sparkling eyes and graying hair.
Our high school Latin teacher was a swarthy, birdlike woman. She was tiny, with dark,
sparkling eyes and graying hair.
Our Latin teacher in high school was a birdlike woman, tiny and swarthy, with graying hair
and dark, sparkling eyes.

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TASK 1: Combine the following sentences into a single clear sentence using one adjective or adverb.
1. Willie had a beard and a moustache.
The beard was bushy.
The beard was long.
The moustache was droopy.

________________________________________________________________________________

2. The man handed me a photograph of a woman.


He did this silently.
The man was old.
The woman was beautiful.

________________________________________________________________________________

3. The man handed me a photograph of a woman.


The photograph was torn.
The photograph was faded.
The woman was young.

_______________________________________________________________________________

4. The photograph brought back memories.


The memories were brought back instantly.
The memories were fine.
The memories were old.

_______________________________________________________________________________

5. The photograph of the woman brought back memories.


The memories were brought back instantly.
The woman was beautiful.
The woman was young.
The photograph was torn.
The photograph was faded.
The memories were fine.
The memories were old.

_______________________________________________________________________________

TASK 2: Revise these paragraphs using compound and complex sentences.

Paragraph 1: It was a dark and stormy night. The wind was high. The trees waved and
crashed against the barn. I looked around me and saw that I wasnt alone. A man stood
behind me. He was tall. He was mean. He had a knife. It was shining in the moonlight. It
was long and slender. He reached back. He stabbed with it. I jumped out of the way. I ran
away.

_______________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________

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Paragraph 2: Tom prefers baseball to basketball. Baseball seems more interesting to
Tom. Tom feels baseball is a gentlemans sport. Baseball is more structured than
basketball. Baseball requires athletes to use more skill than aggression when playing.
Tom respects baseball players the most because of this.

_______________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________

TASK 3: Joining Sentences

Use the joining words to match the beginning and end of the sentence together. Write the sentences
into your books. You can only use each word once. Remember that there is a capital letter at the
beginning and a full stop at the end.

Beginning Joining word End.

Alan was at school because he does not like peas.

Geeta ate breakfast but brushing her teeth.

We had indoor play meanwhile there was a storm.

Ali watched television before it was raining.

James likes potatoes after I chase cats.

Dogs chase me and she stayed in bed.

I fell asleep so he went to bed.

Mary wasnt well during the Christmas play.

Joining Sentences

1. We looked for the lost cat but

2. We had to wash our hands before

3. The girl walked down the dark garden path and

4. Rani and Clare play chess meanwhile

5. Geeta wanted to ride her new bike after

6. I got bored and fell asleep during

7. The whole class was in big trouble because

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Answer key:

TASK 1
1. Willie had a long, bushy beard and a droopy moustache.
2. Silently, the old man handed me a photograph of a beautiful woman.
3. The man handed me a torn and faded photograph of a young woman.
4. The photograph instantly brought back fine old memories.
5. The torn and faded photograph of a beautiful young woman instantly brought back fine old
memories.

TASK 2

1. It was a dark and stormy night and the wind was high. The trees waved and crashed against
the barn. I looked and around me and saw that I wasnt alone. A tall and mean man, who had a
knife stood behind me. The knife, which was shining in the moonlight, was long and slender. He
reached back and stabbed with it. I jumped out of the way and I ran away.

2. Tom prefers baseball because it seems more interesting to him. He thinks baseball is a
gentlemans sport and more structured than basketball. Since baseball requires athletes to use
more skill than aggression when playing, he respects baseball players the most because of this.

1. Aim: Extend these sentences using:

if so while since though

Example:

The cat sat on the mat.


The cat sat on the mat so that he could curl up and go to sleep.
The cat sat on the mat while he was waiting for his tea.
If the weather was cold outside the cat always sat on the mat in front of the fire.
The cat sat on the mat since it was the warmest place in the room.
Though the cat was really hungry for its tea it sat patiently on the mat.

6. It was cold outside.


7. Jane was bored.
8. Jack went out to play.
9. Dad lit the fire.
10. We walked down the road.
11. We had some work to do.
12. It wasnt fair.
13. I wanted to go out to play.

2. Aim: Use the following words to give more information about someone or something:

who whose which that

Example:
The girl walked into the classroom.

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The girl, who had long red hair, walked swiftly into the classroom.

The girl, whose red hair sparkled as the light caught it, walked slowly and confidently into the
classroom.

The girl walked into the classroom, which by now was filled with children.

The girl, who was now feeling extremely nervous, walked steadily into the classroom, which by now
was filled with people, who were busily getting ready for the start of the day.

The girl walked into the classroom that had been allocated to her on arrival at the school earlier this
morning.
Aim: Use the following words to give more information about someone or something:

who whose which that

6. The house was in front of her.


7. Jake skipped down the road.
8. The cat sat on the mat.
9. There was a large field.
10. They could see fields.
11. There were lots of houses.
12. The beach spread before them.
13. The castle was high on the cliff.
3. Aim: Write complex sentences

Give more information about someone or something using words like:


who whose which that
Use your WAIBS!

Example:
The girl walked into the classroom.

As the girl, with flaming red hair and freckles on her nose, walked into the classroom, all heads turned
to stare at her.

The girl, who was feeling very nervous by now, walked into the classroom, although she really felt
like bolting out of the door.

Since this was her first day at her new school, the girl thrust back her shoulders confidently and
walked into the classroom, which by now was packed with children.

4. Aim: Write complex sentences

Give more information about someone or something using words like:


who whose which that
Use your WAIBS!

Example:
The girl walked into the classroom.

As the girl, with flaming red hair and freckles on her nose, walked into the classroom, all heads turned
to stare at her.

1. The house was in front of her.

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2. Jake skipped down the road.
3. The cat sat on the mat.
4. There was a large field.
5. They could see fields.
6. There were lots of houses.
7. The beach spread before them.
8. The castle was high on the cliff.

SENTENCE COMBINING
A.

This exercise will introduce you to sentence combining--that is, organizing sets of short, choppy
sentences into longer, more effective ones. However, the goal of sentence combining is not to produce
longer sentences but rather to develop more effective sentences--and to help you become a more
versatile writer.

Sentence combining calls on you to experiment with different methods of putting words together.
Because there are countless ways to build sentences, your goal is not to find the one "correct"
combination but to consider different arrangements before you decide which one is the most effective.

An Example of Sentence Combining

Let's consider an example. Start by looking at this list of eight short (and repetitive) sentences:

She was our Latin teacher.


We were in high school.
She was tiny.
She was a birdlike woman.
She was swarthy.
She had dark eyes.
Her eyes were sparkling.
Her hair was graying.

Now try combining those sentences into three, two, or even just one clear and coherent sentence: in
the process of combining, omit repetitive words and phrases (such as "She was") but keep all of the
original details.

Have you succeeded in combining the sentences? If so, compare your work with these sample
combinations:

Our Latin teacher in high school was a tiny woman. She was swarthy and birdlike. She had
dark, sparkling eyes and graying hair.
When we were in high school, our Latin teacher was a tiny woman. She was swarthy and
birdlike, with dark, sparkling eyes and graying hair.
Our high school Latin teacher was a swarthy, birdlike woman. She was tiny, with dark,
sparkling eyes and graying hair.
Our Latin teacher in high school was a birdlike woman, tiny and swarthy, with graying hair
and dark, sparkling eyes.

B.

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Combine the sentences in each set into a single clear sentence containing at least one
adjective or adverb (or both). Omit words that are needlessly repeated, but don't leave out any
important details.

After you have completed the exercise, compare your new sentences with the original sentences at the
bottom of this page. Keep in mind that many combinations are possible, and in some cases you may
prefer your own sentences to the original versions.

6. Willie had a beard and a moustache.


The beard was bushy.
The beard was long.
The moustache was droopy.
7. The man handed me a photograph of a woman.
He did this silently.
The man was old.
The woman was beautiful.
8. The man handed me a photograph of a woman.
The photograph was torn.
The photograph was faded.
The woman was young.
9. The photograph brought back memories.
The memories were brought back instantly.
The memories were fine.
The memories were old.
10. The photograph of the woman brought back memories.
The memories were brought back instantly.
The woman was beautiful.
The woman was young.
The photograph was torn.
The photograph was faded.
The memories were fine.
The memories were old.

SAMPLE COMBINATIONS:

6. Willie had a long, bushy beard and a droopy moustache.


7. Silently, the old man handed me a photograph of a beautiful woman.
8. The man handed me a torn and faded photograph of a young woman.
9. The photograph instantly brought back fine old memories.
10. The torn and faded photograph of a beautiful young woman instantly brought back fine old
memories.

C.

Combine the sentences in each set into a single clear sentence containing at least one prepositional
phrase. Omit words that are needlessly repeated, but don't leave out any important details. After you
have completed the exercise, compare your new sentences with the original sentences at the bottom of
this page. Keep in mind that many combinations are possible, and in some cases you may prefer your
own sentences to the original versions.

1. A mouse darted.
It darted across the salad bar.
This happened during the luncheon.

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2. We traveled this summer.
We traveled by train.
We traveled from Biloxi.
We traveled to Dubuque.
3. The car swerved, crashed, and caromed.
It swerved off the road.
It crashed through the guardrail.
It caromed off a maple tree.
4. Mick planted seeds.
He planted them in his garden.
He did this after the quarrel.
The quarrel was with Mr. Jimmy.
5. Grandpa dropped his teeth.
His teeth were false.
His teeth dropped into a glass.
There was prune juice in the glass.
6. Lucy played.
She was behind the sofa.
She was with her friend.
Her friend was imaginary.
They played for hours.
7. There was a man.
He wore a chicken costume.
He dashed across the field.
He did this before the ballgame.
The ballgame was on Sunday afternoon.
8. A man stood, looking down.
He stood upon a railroad bridge.
The bridge was in northern Alabama.
He was looking down into the water.
The water was twenty feet below.
The water was swift.
9. The gray-flannel fog closed off the Salinas Valley.
It was the fog of winter.
The fog was high.
The Salinas Valley was closed off from the sky.
And the Salinas Valley was closed off from all the rest of the world.
10. I climbed to my perch.
I did this one night.
The night was hot.
The night was in the summer.
The night was in 1949.
It was my usual perch.
My perch was in the press box.
The press box was cramped.
The press box was above the stands.
The stands were wooden.
These were the stands of the baseball park.
The baseball park was in Lumberton, North Carolina.

SAMPLE COMBINATIONS:

1. During the luncheon, a mouse darted across the salad bar.


2. This summer we traveled by train from Biloxi to Dubuque.

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3. The convertible swerved off the road, crashed through the guardrail, and caromed off a maple
tree.
4. After his quarrel with Mr. Jimmy, Mick planted seeds in his garden.
5. Grandpa dropped his false teeth into a glass of prune juice.
6. Lucy played behind the couch for hours with her imaginary friend.
7. Before the ballgame on Sunday afternoon, a man in a chicken costume dashed across the
field.
8. A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift waters
twenty feet below.
(Ambrose Bierce, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge")
9. The high gray-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the
rest of the world.
(John Steinbeck, "The Chrysanthemums")
10. One hot night in the summer of 1949, I climbed to my usual perch in the cramped press box
above the wooden stands of the baseball park in Lumberton, North Carolina.
(Tom Wicker, "Baseball")

Improving Sentences

These sentences are really boring and need to be made more interesting!

Rewrite each one neatly in your homework book.

Think about all the ways we have been learning to improve our sentences in class:

use powerful verbs


use adjectives (but not too many!) to describe the noun
add adverbs to tell the reader about the verb
extend your sentence by using connectives
add a super sentences starter time, place and character
add extra information dont forget the commas!
dont forget PUNCTUATION!

1. The band played.


2. The police searched the park.
3. The witch climbed onto her broom.
4. The footballer kicked the ball.
5. The man walked up the hill.
6. The cat walked along the wall.

Joining Sentences

Use the joining words to match the beginning and end of the sentence together. Write
the sentences into your books. You can only use each word once. Remember that there
is a capital letter at the beginning and a full stop at the end.

Beginning Joining word End

Alan was at school because he does not like peas.

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Geeta ate breakfast but brushing her teeth.

We had indoor play meanwhile there was a storm.

Ali watched television before it was raining.

James likes potatoes after I chase cats.

Dogs chase me and She stayed in bed.

I fell asleep so he went to bed.

Mary wasnt well during the Christmas play.

Joining Sentences

We looked for the lost cat but

We had to wash our hands before

The girl walked down the dark garden path and

Ellie heard a noise from the darkness of the garden and

Rani and Clare play chess meanwhile

Geeta wanted to ride her new bike after

I got bored and fell asleep during

The whole class was in big trouble because

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