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There are only four kinds of sentences in the English language; every possible sentence belongs to one of the following four categories:

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

Type One: Simple Sentences

The most basic sentence in the English language, a simple sentence is one complete, independent clause. It contains one subject, has at least one main verb, and must formulate a complete thought.

Simple sentences can have compound subjects:

Simple sentences can have more than one verb:


Type Two: Compound Sentences

Compound sentences consist of two complete, independent clauses connected with punctuation and/or a conjunction/adverb. In other words, a compound sentence is two simple sentences linked to form one complete sentence. There are three ways to form a compound sentence:

Option A: Comma and a coordinating conjunction (and/but/or/so/for/yet/nor)

Sentence Structure - Option A:

Independent Clause ,and
,but
,so
,or
,for
,nor
,yet
Independent Clause

Option B: Semi-colon (;)

Two independent clauses that are clearly related can be joined with just a semi-colon rather than a conjunction.

When using only a semi-colon, be sure that the relation between the two clauses is clear. Contrasting two ideas with only a semi-colon can sometimes be confusing.

Unclear:

In such cases, it would be clearer to use Option A or Option C.

Sentence Structure - Option B:

Independent Clause ; Independent Clause

Option C: Semi-colon and Conjunctive Adverb

Sentence Structure - Option C:

Independent Clause ; also
; as a result,
; besides,
; consequently,
; finally,
; furthermore,
; however,
; in addition,
; in fact,
; instead,
; likewise,
; meanwhile,
; moreover,
; nevertheless,
; next
; now
; on the other hand,
; otherwise,
; similarly,
; still
; then
; therefore,
; thus
Independent Clause

So when writing compound sentences, you have options and should try to vary your sentences:

Review - Combining Sentences (Part 1)

Shaun explains how to combine sentences

Review - Combining Sentences (Part 1)

Shaun explains how to combine sentences


Type Three: Complex Sentences

Complex sentences consist of one independent clause, known as the main clause, and one or more dependent clauses. A dependent clause is a group of words which has a subject and a verb but is not a complete idea and cannot exist alone, for example, “after I finish my homework.”

Note that these clauses can come in either order, but that punctuation is different.

Option 1:

Independent Clause + Dependent Clause

Option 2:

Dependent Clause + , + Independent Clause

Common subordinating conjunctions that begin a dependent clause:


Type Four: Compound-Complex Sentences

A Compound-Complex sentence is exactly what it sounds like; it is a combination of Type Two and Type Three:

Compound-Complex sentences must consist of at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.

Review - Combining Sentences (Part 2)

Shaun explains how to combine sentences

Review - Combining Sentences (Part 2)

Shaun explains how to combine sentences


Exercise

Using what you have learned, complete the activity.