Types of Sentences

Writing is made up of sentences. Effective writing consists of different types of sentences put in different paragraphs to bring out the ideas of the writer. There are different types of sentences serving different functions.

The simple sentence

The simple sentence is made up of a subject and a predicate (a verb, or a verb + noun/adjective/adverb/preposition etc. to complete the sentence).

e.g. The woman went to Mexico.

(subject) (predicate)

e.g. Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States.

(subject)        (predicate)

Identifying the subject and the predicate helps you in subject-predicate agreement.

e.g. Drinking a glass of warm milk and taking a hot bath help me sleep better. (NOT helps)

e.g. Every house in the neighborhood has been searched. (NOT have)

e.g. Each of the students was given an assignment to do over the weekend. (NOT were)

The simple sentence (usually short) is used to make a statement, or to emphasize an idea.

However, overuse of short simple sentences may result in choppy sentences, showing lack of unity.

e.g. It was a beautiful day. The sun was warm. We wanted to go for a walk. We decided to go to the lake. (choppy)

e.g. It was a warm and beautiful day, and we decided to go to the lake for a walk. (improved)

The compound sentence

The compound sentence is made up two or more simple sentences joined together by a coordinating conjunction (andornor, butforsoyet), or a punctuation mark (colon, semicolon).

e.g. The man took the money, and (he) ran away.

e.g. You finish this work, or you don’t get paid!

e.g. I don’t want to go, nor will I.

e.g. He was poor, but he was happy.

e.g. We were thirsty, for the weather was hot.

e.g. He worked hard so he passed his test.

e.g. The boy practiced very hard, yet he did not make the swim team.

The compound sentence is used to show relationshipsequence, or importance of ideas in a sentence.

The complex sentence

The complex sentence is made up two or more simple sentences joined together by a subordinating conjunction (afterbeforesincewhenalthough).

e.g. After the man took the money, he ran away.

The emphasis is more on he ran away than on the man took the money; the complex sentence here not only shows the sequence of the action but also focuses on he ran away “after” taking the money.

Compare: “The man took the money, and (he) ran away.” In this compound sentence, the emphasis is on the man took the money as well as (he) ran away.

e.g. Before the postman came, the woman had already finished writing the letter.

e.g. When the postman came, the woman gave him the letter.

It is important that you construct different types of sentences to express your ideas.

Stephen Lau

Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Learn Grammar 2

Types of Sentences

The Simple Sentence

 The simple sentence is usually short: it is used to express a simple idea, or to emphasize a point.

e.g. You are right.

e.g. This is easy to do.

Do not use too many simple sentences within a paragraph; otherwise, they may look choppy. Use a simple sentence only to express an idea or to emphasize a point.

1.2. The Compound Sentence

The compound sentence is made up of two or more simple sentences joined together. To join them, you need a coordinate conjunction (e.g. and, but, or , nor, so, yet) A coordinate conjunction means the simple sentences joined together are more or less of equal importance.

e.g. I want to go, and you must come with me.

e.g. You want to go, but I don’t want to go with you.

e.g. You can go, or you can stay.

e.g. You cannot eat this, nor can you take it with you.

e.g. This sentence is wrong, so (you) correct it,

e.g. This sentence is wrong, so (you) correct it,

e.g. He is tired, yet he does not want to go to bed. (“yet” is stronger than “but”)

In addition to using a conjunction, you can also use a punctuation mark, such as a colon;” to explain, or a semi-colon;” to replace a conjunction.

e.g. This is difficult to do: there are many problems that come with it.

e.g. I am tired; I do not want to go to bed now. (replacing the conjunction but)

e.g. I like to sing; my brother likes to paint; my sister likes to dance.

1.3. The Complex Sentence

 The complex sentence is made up two or more simple sentences joined together by subordinate conjunctions, such as after, before, because, if, since, when, while, although, though. A subordinate conjunction suggests that the simple sentence joined is less important. The complex sentence shows the relationship of ideas, i.e. some are more important, and some are less important.

e.g. After you leave, I shall go to bed. (the focus is more on “going to bed”)

Compare: You leave and I go to bed. (the focus is on “leaving” and “going to bed”)

e.g. Before you leave, (you) finish the drink. (the focus is more on “finishing the drink”)

e.g. Before you leave, (you) finish the drink. (the focus is more on “finishing the drink”)

e.g. I give you this because you are nice.

e.g. If you want this, (you) take it.

e.g. Since this belongs to you, (you) take it.

e.g. You can go when you finish this.

e.g. You must do while there is time.

e.g. Although I am tired, I don’t want to go to bed.

e.g. Though it is late, you can stay here for a while.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau