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Types of sentence structures

reviewed by Jack L.A.


Aceish Education, China
The four sentence structures

1. Simple
2. Compound
3. Complex
4. Compound - complex

These types of sentences define how the clauses


are formed, which types of clauses are used,
and the type of conjunctions that the speaker
should use, when forming the sentences.
Each clause in a sentence has either
an INDEPENDENT, a DEPENDENT clause, or
both.
What are clauses?

Clauses are groups of words


with a subject and a verb.
Independent clause

This clause has a subject and a verb. It is called


independent, because it can stand alone and does
not need another clause to support it. It makes
perfect sense on its own. This is also known as a
MAIN CLAUSE.

Examples
The sun rises in the east.
Warm brownies taste delicious!
I drink coffee.
Dependent clause

This is called dependent because it cannot


support itself, and needs to have an independent
clause as part of the sentence to complete it. It
would not make sense on its own. This is also
known as a SUBORDINATE CLAUSE.

Examples
since I drink coffee
whenever the sun rises
because I love stories
Quick refresher

In order to be a complete sentence, a


group of words needs to contain a subject
and a verb, and it needs to express a
complete thought.
Simple sentence

A simple sentence contains only one independent


clause. An independent clause is a group of words
(with a subject and a verb) that expresses a
complete thought.

Examples
The sun rises in the east.
She loves to eat chocolate ice cream.
The teacher had a conversation with the students
parents.
Compound sentence

These have two independent clauses that are


connected with a coordinating conjunction.
In these sentences, we have two complete thoughts
that are joined with the following conjunctions - For,
And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So. (FANBOYS)
Compound sentence - examples

Joe waited for the train, but the train


was late.
Mary and Samantha arrived at the bus
station before noon, and they left on
the bus before I arrived.
Mary and Samantha left on the bus
before I arrived, so I did not see them
at the bus station.
Complex sentence

A complex sentence contains a dependent clause


and an independent clause. A dependent clause is
a group of words that has a subject and a verb but
does not express a complete thought.
A speaker or writer can begin a complex sentence
with a subordinating conjunction in order to make
the first clause dependent, and then use an
independent clause after that.
Complex sentence - examples 1
The dependent clauses can go first in the sentence,
followed by the independent clauses, as in the
following:

Since Mary and Samantha arrived at the bus station


before noon, I did not see them at the station.
While he waited at the train station, Joe realized
that the train was late.
After they left on the bus, Mary and Samantha
realized that Joe was waiting at the train station.
Complex sentence - examples 2
Conversely, the independent clauses can go first in the
sentence, followed by the dependent clause, as in the
following:
I did not see them at the station since Mary and
Samantha arrived at the bus station before noon.
Joe realized that the train was late while he waited at
the train station.
Mary and Samantha realized that Joe was waiting at
the train station after they left on the bus.
Tip: When the independent clause comes first, a
comma should not be used to separate the two clauses.
Complex sentence
Complex sentences are often more effective
than compound sentences because a complex
sentence indicates clearer and more specific
relationships between the main parts of the
sentence.
The word "before," for instance, tells readers
that one thing occurs before another. A word
such as "although" conveys a more complex
relationship than a word such as "and" conveys.
Compound-complex sentence

As the name suggests, this type shares the


characteristics of both compound and complex
sentences.
Compound-complex sentences are made from
two independent (main) clauses and one or
more dependent clauses.
These are quite common in English, but you
should try to master the first three types
before you attempt to use this one!
Compound-complex sentence
Examples
He called the security guard and he checked
the room for items which have been stolen.

The young man was considered a hero, for he


was successful in arresting the murderer who
had killed an old woman.

Those who look into the practical life will realize


that fortune is usually on the side of the
industrious, as the winds and waves are on the
side of the best navigators.
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