Four English sentence structures
English has four basic sentence structures for declarative sentences: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex.
The simple sentence consists of an independent clause. An independent clause expresses a single idea. It must have a subject and a verb.
Examples of simple sentences are
- Joe slept.
Joe slept in the bedroom.
Joe and Carl ate breakfast.
At a table in the kitchen, Joe and his mother ate ice cream and watched the baseball game.
A compound sentence joins two independent clauses into one sentence. The combination can be done with a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, or, but, for, nor, yet), with a semicolon, or with a conjuctive adverb (therefore, consequently, moreover, furthermore, however, also, as a result are some examples).
Examples of compound sentences are
- Joe ate breakfast, and Carl skipped breakfast.
Joe ate breakfast; Carl skipped breakfast.
Joe ate breakfast; however, Carl skipped breakfast.
A complex sentence joins an independent clause with a dependent clause. A dependent clause adds information to the independent clause. It may begin with a subordinating conjunction such as before, although, because, if, unless, since.
Examples of complex sentences with subordinating conjunctions are
- I came to visit because I heard you are sick.
Although it was raining, they decided to play the football game.
Since you asked, I will be going to the dance alone.
Examples of complex sentences with adjective clauses are
- The boy who won the prize lives on our block.
The car drove through the light that was red.
A compound-complex sentence combines at minimum two independent clauses and one dependent clause.
Examples of compound-complex sentences are
- Before he could go home from the hospital, my brother needed to complete another test, and he needed to wait for the nurse to bring a wheelchair.
The doctor visited my brother's room, and she told him that he could go home soon.