Sentence Structures

Basic sentence construction is something learned in beginning English language courses; however, as life happens and time goes by, many of these first learned English fundamentals begin to elude us. After a quick review, though, it usually all comes back, and good sentence construction becomes a bit easier to put into practice on a daily basis.

  • A basic sentence is a complete thought or idea–subject + predicate. It's also known as a simple sentence.
    • Subject (Noun Phrase)–One of two main parts of a sentence containing the subject noun or a pronoun–a person, place or thing–often accompanied by modifiers. Therefore, the noun or pronoun is who or what the sentence is about.
    • Predicate–One of two main parts of a sentence containing the verb, objects, or phrases governed by the verb.
  • A phrase is a cluster of connected words that do not form a complete idea or sentence.
  • A clause consists of a subject and a predicate. It can either be an independent clause (simple sentence), or it can be a dependent clause that relies on an independent clause to form a complete sentence.
  • A simple sentence contains a subject and a predicate. It communicates one complete idea as an independent clause. It's a complete sentence.
  • A compound sentence is the logical combination of two complete thoughts or independent clauses to form one sentence. It is usually linked by a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon, but subordinating conjunctions used in a complex sentence can be used as coordinators as well to form a compound sentence.
  • A complex sentence includes a dependent clause linked to an independent clause by a subordinating conjunction of some kind to form a complete sentence.

Have we jogged your memory yet? If not, don't worry–this section contains explanations and examples of sentence construction in action:

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For more information on pre-writing, download the full-text PDF document and go to:

  • Sentence 16
  • What is a sentence? 17
  • Sentence Building 17
  • Sentence 18
  • Sentence 18
  • Combining Sentences 18
  • Sentence 18
  • Sentence 19

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