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Simple, Compound, and Complex Sentences

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Sentences

A sentence is a set of words that makes complete sense. Every sentence has two parts:

1. a subject
(who or what the sentence is about)
2. a predicate
(the part which tells something about the subject)
 

For example:

  • She (subject) talks (predicate).
  • A subject contains a noun or a pronoun and words describing the noun or pronoun. In the above sentence, the pronoun "she" is itself the subject.
  • A predicate contains a verb and all the words related to that verb except the subject. In the above sentence, the predicate itself is a verb.
 

For example:

  • John and Cody (subject) play (verb) basketball whenever they get time (predicate).

Simple Sentence

My house is white.

This is a simple sentence. It consists of a single independent clause. It has a subject and a verb, and expresses a single complete thought.

Remember, it does not contain a dependent clause or another simple sentence.

Compound Sentence

My house is white and it has green shutters.

This is a compound sentence. It is made from two independent clauses, which are short sentences, that are combined with a conjunction (and). In a compound sentence, each clause, or each part, before and after the conjunction, would make sense on its own.

Complex Sentence

Although we have lived there for ten years, we are moving in May.

This sentence also has two parts:

  • Although we have lived there for ten years
  • We are moving in May
  • It can be clearly seen that sentence #1 does not make sense on its own because it uses a subordinating conjunction (although), and we know that there has to be something after that clause.
  • #2 could be a sentence on its own. It is an independent clause.

A sentence that combines two clauses and uses a subordinating conjunction, it is called a complex sentence.

Some Subordinating Conjunctions:

After Although As In order that
At least Now that Wherever While
Before Even though How If
Whenever As though Because Even if
Though Until Unless As if
As long as Since So that That

So, there are three basic types of sentences:

Simple Sentence

  • It has a subject and a verb.
  • It is a single independent clause.
  • It expresses a single complete thought.

Example: Grandma goes to church alone.

(subject)    (verb)

Compound Sentence

  • Contains two independent clauses (two simple sentences).
  • Joins the two clauses with a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).
  • The conjunction can change the meaning of the sentence.

Example: Trina slept late, yet she made it to school on time.

(clause 1)   (conjunction)   (clause 2)

Complex Sentence

  • An independent clause joined by one or more dependent clauses.
  • A subordinating conjunction is at the beginning of the dependent clause.
  • If the dependent clause is at the beginning of the sentence, it must be followed by a comma.
  • A dependent clause has a subject and a verb, but doesn't make sense on its own.

Example: Carly played outside in the yard until it was too dark to see.

(independent clause)   (subordinating conjunction)   (dependent clause)
Summary
  • A sentence is a set of words that makes complete sense, and consists of a subject, a predicate, and a verb.
  • simple sentence consists of a single independent clause.
  • compound sentence consists of two independent clauses.
  • complex sentence consists of an independent clause joined by one or more dependent clauses.

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