Sentence Types

Types of Sentences

A complete sentence contains at least two parts:

  • Subject
  • Verb

More complicated sentences may also include:

  • Phrases (i.e. prepositional phrases beginning with "in," "of," or "for")
  • Clauses (i.e. relative clauses such as "which" clauses)

Sentences fall into three main types:

  • Simple sentence
  • Compound sentence
  • Complex sentence

Use these different types of sentences to make your style more varied.

  • Simple sentence: A simple sentence contains one subject and one verb:

    Example: Martin Luther King Jr. died in 1968.

    Subject
    Verb
    Prepositional Phrase
     
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
    died
    in 1968.
     
    Simple sentences can also take an object (the thing begin acted on):

    Example: Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Civil Rights movement.

    Subject
    Verb
    Object
     
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
    led
    the Civil Rights movement.
     
  • Compound sentence: A compound sentence joins together two complete simple sentences with a comma and conjunction (i.e. "and," "but," or "or"):

    Example: Martin Luther King, Jr. led the movement, but many southern whites opposed him.

    Subject 1
    Verb 1
    Object
    Comma + Conjunction
    Subject 2
    Verb 2
    Object
     
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
    led
    the civil rights movement
    , but
    many southern whites
     opposed
    him.
     
  • Complex sentence: A complex sentence begins with a word like "although," "if" or "because." A complex sentence contains one complete simple sentence (called the "independent clause," and one incomplete simple sentence (called the "dependent" clause because it depends on the other clause to complete the thought). Use a comma to join the two clauses.

    Example: Though Martin Luther King, Jr. died in 1968, he inspires many today.

    Dependent Clause
    Comma
    Independent Clause
     
    Though Martin Luther King, Jr. died in 1968
     
    ,
    he inspires many today
     

    The complex sentence can also be flipped around:

    Example: Martin Luther King, Jr. inspires many today, though he died in 1968.

    Independent Clause
    Comma
    Dependent Clause
     
    Martin Luther King, Jr. inspires many today
    ,
    though he died in 1968.
     
0