1. Simple Sentences
Simple sentences contain one subject/verb pair and express a complete thought. They may contain more than one subject, as in the following example.
My wife and I got married in Japan.
Simple sentences may also contain more than one verb as in the next example.
He cut the grass and put away the lawnmower.
Here are some other examples of simple sentences and their subject/verb patterns.
The movie wasn’t very interesting. (subject, verb)
My friends and I disliked the movie. (subject, subject, verb)
My friends and I cooked and ate the meal together. (subject, subject, verb, verb)
I might watch TV or read a book after dinner. (subject, verb, verb)
2. Compound Sentences
The second type of sentence, the compound sentence, consists of two simple sentences joined together by a coordinating conjunction.
There are seven coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. A comma precedes a coordinating conjunction which joins two simple sentences.
Note: Do not be confused between a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence and a compound verb in a simple sentence. Study the following examples carefully.
My friend plays the guitar and writes music.
This is a simple sentence containing a subject (friend) and a compound verb (plays/ writes).
My friend plays the guitar, and he writes music.
This is a compound sentence — two simple sentences joined by a comma and a coordinating conjunction. The subject of the first simple sentence is friend and the verb is plays. The subject of the second simple sentence is he and the verb is writes.
3. Complex Sentences
Clauses are groups of words that contain subjects and verbs. There are two types: independent (main) clauses and dependent (subordinate) clauses. An independent clause, in addition to containing a subject and verb, expresses a complete thought, and can stand alone as a simple sentence. A dependent clause on its own is just part of a sentence or fragment. It must be joined to an independent clause for it to make sense to the reader.
There are three types of dependent clauses: adjective clauses, adverb clauses, and noun clauses. When you join dependent and independent clauses together, you create complex sentences. Study the examples below.
Complex sentence using a dependent adjective clause
|Vancouver has many interesting places to shop.||independent clause or simple sentence|
|which is the largest city in British Columbia||dependent adjective clause|
|Vancouver, which is the largest city in British
Columbia, has many interesting places to shop.
Complex sentence using a dependent adverb clause of time
|I will tell her the news.||independent clause or simple sentence|
|as soon as I see her||dependent adverb clause of time|
|As soon as I see her, I will tell her the news.||complex sentence|
Complex sentence using a dependent adverb clause of reason
|I went to bed early.||independent clause or simple sentence|
|because I was tired||dependent adverb clause of reason|
|I went to bed early because I was tired.||complex sentence|
Complex sentence using a dependent noun clause
|I already know.||independent clause or simple sentence|
|what you said||dependent noun clause|
|I already know what you said.||complex sentence|
Note: Comma with dependent adverb clause
If a dependent adverb clause is before an independent clause in a sentence, the two are separated by a comma. However, if the dependent adverb clause follows the independent (main) clause, no comma is used.
Use a comma when the dependent clause is first
While we were eating dinner, someone rang the doorbell.
Don't use a comma when the main clause is first
Someone rang the doorbell while we were eating dinner.