What is a sentence?
Before going to the details of the 4 types of sentences based on structure, let us examine ‘ a sentence’.
What is a sentence?
A sentence is a group of words that makes complete sense. Every sentence has two parts.viz, the subject and the predicate.
He broke the plate.
In the above sentence, “He” is the subject and “broke the plate “is the predicate. So a sentence essentially consists of a subject and a predicate. The predicate should contain one finite verb.
When the verb in the predicate is an intransitive verb, it alone can form the predicate.
For example: They go. In this sentence, the subject is “They” and predicate is “go”.
So we can say that one sentence should contain at least one subject and one verb.
Apparently an Imperative sentence is an exception to the above rule. Because an Imperative sentence, visibly, has no subject.
For example, consider the sentence, ‘Clean the table’. In this imperative sentence, seemingly there is no subject. But in this too, there is subject-” You”, which is understood.
In the above given examples, the sentences are very short. But the sentences can be long and complicated. Let us first study the 4 types of sentences on the basis of its structure.
4 Types of sentences (Structure-wise)
A sentence can be consisting of one or more independent clauses and one or more subordinate clauses. Based on the structure of the sentences, there are four types of sentences. They are :
4 Types of Sentences: #1. Simple sentence
A sentence which contains only one independent clause is called a Simple sentence. It has no dependent clause (subordinate clause).
- He loves his father very much.
- Mary and Ann are friends.
- I like to play chess.
- He goes to school in his car.
- I go to office by bus.
- She likes apples.
- Grass is green.
A simple sentence may have a compound subject, compound predicate, or both. It may also include modifiers and compliments.
Compound subject: When a sentence has more than one subject, it is called a compound subject.
Example: Mary and Ann shared a room. (Mary and Ann is a compound subject)
A compound Predicate: When two or more verbs joined by a conjunction, share one subject, it is called a Compound Predicate.
A simple sentence can have a compound subject, a compound predicate or both.
#1. James and Mary played together in the backyard. (Compound subject)
#2. James jumped and played in the backyard. (Jumped and played is compound predicate)
#3. James and Mary jumped and played in the backyard. (Compound subject and compound predicate)
In example #1 above, James and Mary is a compound subject and the sentence has in fact only one combined subject, “James and Mary”. It has only one predicate .Obviously it is a simple sentence. In other two examples also, on the basis of the structure, they are too simple sentences although they have more than one verb in their compound predicates.
4 Types of Sentences: #2. Compound sentence
A compound sentence contains at least two independent clauses (main clauses) with closely related ideas, joined together with coordinating conjunction, correlative conjunction, a conjunctive adverb or punctuation (semi-colon or comma). It has no dependent clauses (subordinate clauses).In other words we can say that when two or more simple sentences are combined together with the help of a conjunction or punctuation, it is called a compound sentence.
- I did not go for swimming today, for I didn’t have time.
- Mary cleaned the house, and Tom went for shopping.
- Man proposes, God disposes.
- God created man and man created religion.
- We must eat to live, but we should not live to eat.
How to form a compound sentence?
Compound sentences can be formed in several ways.
- Using a comma and a coordinating conjunction
- Using semicolon
- Using a semicolon and a transitional expression.
- Using a comma and a correlative conjunction
Method 1: Using a comma and a coordinating conjunction
There are seven coordinating conjunctions. They are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. The acronym, FANBOYS, will be helpful to remember all the seven coordinating conjunctions.
- I wanted to eat, for the work had made me hungry.
- Mary cleaned the house and John disposed the waste(only conjunction )
- There was no hotel nearby, nor did he have any food with him.
- The children wanted to pick mangoes from the mango grove, but the owner did not allow them.
- John was late, so he began to run.
- It was raining, yet he did not take an umbrella
It may be noted that in all the above sentences, except one, comma comes before the conjunction.
If the independent clauses are very short and related either a comma or a conjunction can be used to join the clauses.
- Mary cleaned the house, John disposed the waste(only comma)
- Mary cleaned the house and John disposed the waste(only conjunction)
Method 2: Using the semicolon
- Mary drank a lot of water; the long walk in the sun had made her very thirsty.
- Harry took a pen and paper; he wanted to write a poem
- We don’t eat meat; we are vegetarians.
Method 3: With a semi colon and a transitional expression.
Transitional expression is a word or phrase which is used to show the relationship between two ideas. Transitional expressions includes conjunctive adverb and transitional phrases.
Examples of transitional expressions:
Consequently (conjunctive adverb)
Therefore (conjunctive adverb)
Also (conjunctive adverb)
In addition (transitional phrase)
As a result (transitional phrase)
For example (transitional phrase)
In conclusion (transitional phrase)
Examples of usage of transitional expressions to form compound sentence:
- It was dinner time; therefore, I went to the dining room.
- Jenny is very smart; on the other hand, her sister Mary is a bit dull.
- I hadn’t enjoyed the film; as a result, I did not recommend it to my friends.
Note: When compound sentence is formed using semicolon and a transitional expression, a comma is used after the transitional expression.
Method 4: Using a comma and a correlative conjunction.
Correlative conjunctions or paired conjunctions are conjunctions that are always used together. Some of the most common relative conjunctions are:
- either ….or
- neither …nor
- not only …but also
- No sooner … than
Examples of usage of correlative conjunction to form compound sentence:
- I shall either go for a film in the cinema theatre, or stay at home and watch TV.
- Neither does Davy need to go, nor does he want to go.
- Jake is not only rich, but also highly educated.
- No sooner had I put my umbrella away, than it started raining.
Note: When we use correlative conjunctions, a comma must be put in front of the conjunction that introduces the second independent clause.
Common Errors – comma splice and Run- on sentences.
Comma splice is a common grammatical error in English. This occurs when we join two independent clauses with a comma. It is incorrect to join two independent clauses with a comma. But this is easy to correct using any of the above mentioned methods for forming compound sentences. For example:
I wanted to go for shopping. My husband wanted to watch news in the TV.
I wanted to go for shopping, my husband wanted to watch news in the TV. (Incorrect)
I wanted to go for shopping; my husband wanted to watch news in the TV. (Correct)
I wanted to go for shopping, but my husband wanted to watch news in the TV. (Correct)
Run-on sentences are another type of grammatical error in English. This error occurs when two independent clauses are joined without proper punctuation. It should be kept in mind that transitional expression is not conjunction; it does not join sentences grammatically. Therefore a semicolon is required before the transitional expression that is helping to join two independent clauses.
Examples on run- on sentences:
The work had made him thirsty therefore, he stopped to drink water. (Incorrect, as there is no proper punctuation. “Therefore “is a transitional expression and hence a semicolon is necessary before it.)
The work had made him thirsty; therefore, he stopped to drink water. (Correct)
He is rich yet not contented. (Incorrect, as there is no proper punctuation)
He is rich, yet not contented. (Correct)
His partner died and this added to his difficulties. (Incorrect, as there is no proper punctuation)
His partner died, and this added to his difficulties. (Correct)
Note: Use a comma to separate independent clauses in a compound sentence when they are separated by a conjuction.The comma goes after the first clause and before the coordinating conjunction that separate the clauses.
It is to be made sure that the clauses are independent clauses not other constructions where commas are not required.
Example: We opened the long shut door of the house, and then cleaned up the mess.
Above sentence is incorrect as a comma has been used before “and”. Here there is only one subject. That is, “we”. This is a single independent clause. The subject “we” has a compound verb.
We opened the long shut door of the house and then cleaned up the mess. (Correct)
4 Types of Sentences: #3. Complex Sentence
Complex sentence is a sentence formed by combining one independent clause with one or more dependent (subordinate) clauses using subordinate conjunctions. It is one of the four main types of the sentence structures. Complex sentences can unite small unexciting sentences to graceful sentences.
Subordinate conjunctions: A subordinating conjunction is a word or phrase that joins a dependent clause to an independent clause. Though grammatically an independent sentence can stand its own, to get the complete idea, it must be united with the dependent clause. A Subordinate conjunction precisely does this work. That is, assisting the clauses to unite and express the complete idea. (Like, cause and effect, relationship of time and place etc.)There are a large number of Subordinate conjunctions in English language .The commonly used Subordinate conjunctions are given below.
- Even though
- As soon as
Examples of complex sentence:
- As my friend was not there, I spoke to her sister.
- This is the man who asked me about you yesterday.
- If you go fast, you can catch the train.
- We eat that we may live.
- When the sun set, the cow returned home.
- Wherever she goes, her dog follows her.
- You can come with me if you want to come.
- I do not think that he will come tomorrow.
Note: When an independent clause and a dependent clause join together to form a complex sentence, they can go either order. But when the dependent clause comes first, you have to generally separate the clauses with a comma.
She began to play when she completed her home works. (In this sentence the independent clause comes first and therefore no comma.)
When she completed her home works, she began to play. (In this sentence the dependent clause comes first, and therefore comma has been put between the clauses.)
4 Types of Sentences: #4. Complex-Compound Sentence
What is a Compound – Complex Sentence?
As the name indicates, these kinds of sentences are combinations of complex and compound sentences. A compound -complex sentence contains at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. In other words it can be said as that a compound – complex sentence is a compound sentence with a subordinate or dependent clause. As compound complex sentences are normally longer than other sentences, it is very important to punctuate them correctly. Otherwise there is chance of creating run-on- sentences and causing confusion.
Examples of compound complex sentence:
- When I grow up, I want to become a doctor, and my dad will be proud of me.
When I grow up– Dependent clause.
I want to become a doctor–Independent clause
my dad will be proud of me.– Independent clause
- Jack’s mother cried and prayed when Jack was ill, but he soon got better.
Jack’s mother cried and prayed–Independent clause
when Jack was ill– Dependent clause.
he soon got better –Independent clause
- It is a rainy day, so I think that it is better to watch TV at home.
It is a rainy day –Independent clause
I think –Independent clause
that it is better to watch TV at home — Dependent clause.
- When the meeting was over, we went to get some dinner; however the canteen was already closed.
When the meeting was over–dependent clause
we went to get some dinner–Independent clause
the canteen was already closed –Independent clause