Thank goodness for sentences and sentence structure! Sentences are nice little packages of words that come together to express complete thoughts. They make it easy to understand ideas and learn information.
Without sentences, we'd probably all be walking around like a bunch of babbling idiots. See. They're pretty important. Let's show them some respect and learn more about them!
In order to be a complete sentence, a group of words needs to contain a subject and a verb, and it needs to express a complete thought.
If a group of words is missing any of that information, it is probably a sentence fragment. If you have a group of words containing two or more independent clauses that are not properly punctuated, it is probably a run-on sentence.
Okay, now it's time for us to explore the four sentence structures!
A simple sentence contains only one independent clause.
An independent clause is a group of words (with a subject and a verb) that expresses a complete thought.
I drink coffee.
I drink coffee is an independent clause. It contains a subject (I) and a verb (drink), and it expresses a complete thought. Learn more about the simple sentence here.
A compound sentence contains at least two independent clauses. These clauses are joined by a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon.
A coordinating conjunction is a word that glues words, phrases, or clauses together.
She cooked and he cleaned.
She cooked is an independent clause. He cleaned is also an independent clause. And is a coordinating conjunction joining the two independent clauses. She cooked and he cleaned is a compound sentence. Learn more about the compound sentence here.
Psst! When you join two independent clauses with only a comma, it's called a comma splice. Avoid comma splices.
A complex sentence contains a subordinate clause and an independent clause.
A subordinate clause is a group of words that has a subject and a verb but does not express a complete thought.
I washed the dishes after I ate breakfast.
I washed the dishes is an independent clause. After I ate breakfast is a dependent adverb clause modifying the verb washed. I washed the dishes after I ate breakfast is a complex sentence.
Sometimes, it can be hard for people to tell the difference between compound sentences and complex sentences. You can learn more telling the difference here.
Learn more about the complex sentence here.
A compound-complex sentence contains at least two independent clauses and at least one subordinate clause.
I would have purchased the cheese that you like,
but it was too expensive.
I would have purchased the cheese and it was too expensive are both independent clauses. They are being joined by the conjunction but.
The great thing about diagramming sentences is that it shows how the parts of a sentence are related. Being able to see a sentence drawn out will help you understand sentence structure. Give it a shot!