A simple sentence consists of an independent clause (an independent clause contains a subject, a verb, and a complete thought).
Tip: The definition does not say that a simple sentence is short or easy to understand. A simple sentence can have thirty or many phrases, but only one independent clause.
- Tom walks to school.
The simple sentence may have compound subjects, compound verbs, prepositional phrases (such as “on the chair”), and other elements that help lengthen simple sentences.
- The spoon and folk are on the dish.
- Bob and Joe sang and danced in their uncle and aunt’s living room yesterday.
Tip: NO commas separate two compound elements (subject, verb, etc.) in a simple sentence.
A compound sentence contains two or more independent clauses joined by
(1) a comma followed by a coordinating conjunction as follows: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so, they are easy to remember if you think of the words “FAN BOYS”.
(2) a conjunctive adverb (e.g. however, therefore)
(3) a semicolon – I love dogs; my sister love cats.
(4) a comma, but ONLY when the simple sentences are being treated as items in a series.
- I love dogs, my sister love cats, and my brother love fishes.
A complex sentence is a sentence that contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.
Dependent clauses begin with subordinating conjunctions. Here are some of the most common subordinating conjunctions: after, although, as, because, before, even though, if, since, though, unless, until, when, whenever, whereas, wherever, while, etc.
When a complex sentence begins with a dependent clause, a comma is required at the end of the dependent clause. When the independent clause begins the sentence with dependent clauses in the middle as in sentences, no comma is required. The comma after the dependent clause is required, and experienced listeners of English will often hear a
slight pause there. However, there will be no pause when the independent clause begins the sentence.
- Before I go home tonight, I am going to see the dentist.
- I am going to see thedentist before I go home tonight.
- Because my parents know that I am mature, they make allowances for how I dress and what I do. (this sentence contains four dependent clauses)
Tip: Complex sentences are often more effective than compound sentences because a complex sentence indicates clearer and more specific relationships between the main parts of the sentence. The word “before,” for instance, tells readers that one thing occurs before
A compound-complex sentence contains two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.
- Because I am mature, my father expects me to have a good job, and my mother expects me to have my own family.