Basic Rules of Grammar

The 4 Types of Sentences

What are the four types of sentences? Why is it so important to use different types of sentences when writing? These are some of the questions which will be answered in this workshop.

When we speak, we use a variety of sentence types. When writing it is especially important to use a variety of different sentence types because if you are writing a paper for school or  if you want to communicate effectively with your audience through writing, using only one type of sentence makes your writing very bland and boring. It makes it monotone and hard to follow. Including a variety of sentences structures in whatever you’re writing add color and give them a little more life. There are four types of sentences that you should learn.

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

Simple Sentence

Simple sentences have one independent clause. A clause is a group of related words that contains both a subject and a verb. An independent clause has one subject and one verb. An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence because it expresses a complete thought.

Here are some examples of a simple sentence:

• She ran. (Notice that while this sentence only contains two words, it is still a complete sentence because it contains a one word subject and a one word predicate that is also a complete thought.)

• She ran fast.

The above example is a simple sentence because it contains one subject and one verb.

The subject = She

The verb = ran fast

• Billy studied in the Library for his science quiz.

The above example is a simple sentence because it contains one subject and one verb.

The subject = Billy

The verb = studied

in the Library for his science quiz simply adds more information to the sentence. Adding this additional information doesn’t change the sentence type. It’s still a simple sentence. You can add any additional information you want to a simple sentence it just cant be another clause.

Another example

• Billy studied English.

The above example is a simple sentence. It’s complete. It contains one subject, one verb and an object.

Subject = Billy
Verb = studied
The object in the sentence = English

You can add additional information to a simple sentence you just can’t add an additional clause to the sentence.

Example

• My friend Billy studied English at the University. (This is a simple sentence).

In the above sentence example we’ve just added additional information to the sentence.  The additional information is not a separate clause. The sentence is a complete thought.

A dependent clause (or subordinate clause) is one that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence because it does not express a complete thought.

Compound Sentence

A compound sentence is two (or more) independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction or semicolon. A compound sentence is like two or more simple sentences joined together by a coordinating conjunction. A compound sentence does not contain any dependent clauses.

Examples

• I ate the jellybeans and my sister ate the chocolate candy bar.

In the above sentence example I could have placed a period after after the word jellybeans.

I ate jellybeans.

The above example on its own is a simple sentence. But remember in order to create a compound sentence, you must include a  coordinating conjunction. The coordinating conjunctions are commonly known as FANBOYS.

• for
• and
• nor
• but
• or
• yet
• so

my sister ate the chocolate candy bar = An independent clause, meaning this is a complete sentence on its own. Simply capitalize the m in My and add a period after the word bar to make this a complete sentence. (Correct punctuation is always a requirement when writing).

Another example

• Johnnie watched the movie but his brother fell asleep.

In the above sentence example I could have placed a period after the word movie.

Johnnie watched the movie.

The above example on its own is a simple sentence. But remember in order to create a compound sentence, you must include a coordinating conjunction.

But = the coordinating conjunction.

It’s ok to add more than one conjunction to a compound sentence.

Example

• I arrived at the office at 10am and my co-worker arrived five minutes later, but my coworker was in a bad mood so the supervisor sent her home.

The above sentence is technically grammatically correct; however, teachers would not recommend you write it this way. It’s better to create a separate sentence with an independent clause.

Example

Add a period after the word later. Remove the word but, an capitalize the m in the word My.

The independent clause would then appear this way:

I arrived at the office at 10am and my co-worker arrived five minutes later. My co-worker was in a bad mood so the supervisor sent her home.

Complex Sentences

A complex sentence is a sentence that contains one independent and at least one dependent clause (sometimes called a subordinate clause). An independent clause can stand alone as a complete sentence because it expresses a complete thought, whereas a dependent clause will not form a complete sentence on its own. When these two types of clauses appear in a sentence, we create a complex sentence.

Example

• I like to eat the greek yogurt before I workout.

I like to eat greek yogurt is an independent clause and would make a complete sentence on its own.

Before I workout is a dependent clause, because it doesn’t make a complete sentence on its own. It is dependent on the first clause in order to make sense.

Another example

• Donald returned the cellphone after he determined it was defective.

Donald returned the cellphone is an independent clause. This sentence can stand on its own because it is a complete thought.

after he determined it was defective =  A dependent clause, because it doesn’t make a complete sentence on its own. It is dependent on the first clause for the phrase to make sense.

In the examples of complex sentences below, the dependent clause comes first. Notice that the dependent clause begins with a subordinating conjunction (words like since, because, while) and that the clauses are separated by a comma.

Example

• Because my pizza was cold, I warmed it in the microwave.

In above sentence, Because my pizza was cold = dependent clause because it doesn’t make a complete sentence on its own.

I warmed it in the microwave = independent clause because this is a complete thought/sentence. This sentence can stand on its own. This sentence contains a subject and a verb.

• Although she is beautiful, she lacks charisma and doesn’t apply herself.

Although she is beautiful = dependent clause because it doesn’t make a complete sentence on its own.

She lacks charisma and doesn’t apply herself = independent clause because this is a complete thought/sentence. This sentence can stand on its own.

Remember It’s ok to begin a sentence with a subordinating conjunction (words like since, because, and while) as long as the entire sentence forms a complete thought. 

Complex sentences that start with an independent clause are generally not separated by a comma.

Example

• I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to bring a toy gun to a public park because onlookers won’t know if it’s real or a toy.

In the above example, I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to bring a toy gun to a public park = independent clause. (Notice there is no comma placed after the independent clause before the conjunction or dependent clause).

Another example

• Linda painted her daughter’s fingernails while she slept.

In the above sentence example Linda painted her daughter’s fingernails = independent clause. No comma precedes the dependent clause.

Compound-Complex Sentence

A compound-complex sentence is comprised of at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.

Compound-complex sentences helps the writer to express longer more complicated thoughts, with more parts than other sentences.

Examples

• Keisha doesn’t like horror movies because they are scary, so she doesn’t watch horror movies.

In the above example Keisha doesn’t like horror movies = independent clause because this is a complete sentence on its own.

because they are scary = dependent clause because this clause cannot be a sentence on its own. This part of the sentence is dependent on the other clause of the sentence, in order to make sense.

she doesn’t watch horror movies = independent clause because this can be complete sentence on its own.

• Tiffany enjoys taking bubble baths because they relax her, so she takes one every night.

In the above example Tiffany enjoys taking bubble baths = independent clause because this is a complete sentence on its own. It’s a complete thought. It is not dependent on the other part of the sentence or clause.

she takes one every night = independent clause because this is a complete sentence on its own.

because they relax her = dependent clause
because this clause cannot be a sentence on its own. This part of the sentence is dependent on the other clause of the sentence, in order to make sense.

Remember to include a variety of sentences structures in whatever you’re writing. This will enable you to communicate effectively with your audience.

This concludes the workshop on The 4 Types of Sentences. Please go back and re-read the information contained in this workshop before completing the The 4 Types of Sentences worksheet.

After you have re-read the information contained in this workshop, test your knowledge on the 4 types of sentences. Please complete the worksheet titled, The 4 Types of Sentences. You’ll find it on our website. At the top of the page, just click on the menu section and then select Worksheets.

If you have any questions, please feel free to post your questions in the section below titled Leave a Reply/Leave a Comment. In the comment section below, a member of our teaching staff will provide helpful feedback to any question related to this workshop.

We hope you enjoyed this workshop!

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