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Making Sense of Sentences

The Four Basic Sentence Patterns

Types of Sentence Constructions

A sentence may be simple, compound, complex, or compound-complex. It all depends on the relationship between independent and dependent clauses.

1. A simple sentence can have a single subject or a compound subject. It can have a single predicate or a compound predicate. However, a simple sentence only has one independent clause and it has no dependent clauses.

My back aches. (single subject; single predicate)
My teeth and my eyes hurt. (compound subject; single predicate)
My throat and nose feel sore and look red. (compound subject; compound predicate)
I must have caught the flu from the sick kids in class. (independent clause with two phrases: from the sick kids and in class)

2. A compound sentence consists of two independent clauses. The clauses must be joined by a comma and a coordinating conjunction or by a semicolon.

I usually don't mind missing school, but this is not fun.
I feel too sick to watch TV; I feel too sick to eat.

NOTE: The comma can be omitted when the clauses are very short.
Example: I wept and I wept.

3. A complex sentence contains one independent clause (in bold) and one or more dependent clauses (in italics).

When I get back to school, I'm actually going to appreciate it.
(dependent clause, independent clause)

I won't even complain about math class, although I might be talking out of my head because I'm feverish.
(independent clause; two dependent clauses)

4. A compound-complex sentence contains two or more independent clauses (in bold) and one or more dependent clauses (in italics).

Yes, I have a bad flu, and because I need to get well soon, I won't think about school yet.
(two independent clauses; one dependent clause)

Source: Writers Inc. 2006; Great Source Education Group

Simple, Compound & Complex Sentences

Complex Sentences

Compound & Complex Sentences