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Sentences can be structured in various forms and lengths, but each structure seeks to accomplish something different. This variety helps not only to enrich the style of one's writing but also to improve its effectiveness of communication. Simple Sentences Simple sentences have one main idea expressed in one independent clause. 1. I have built houses since I was a teenager. NOTE: Writers occasionally retreat from simple sentences because they are worried that such sentences will sound too juvenile. Though it is true that a whole essay, page, or paragraph of short sentences would certainly be choppy and unsophisticated, it does not mean that clear, simple sentences are not effective. Write simple sentences whenever they are appropriate, but periodically incorporate more complex sentences if the situation seems appropriate.

Compound Sentences Compound sentences have two independent clauses joined with a comma and a coordinate conjunction (and, but, or). The clauses can also be joined by a semicolon, or with a semicolon and conjunction (nonetheless, furthermore, however, etc.). 2. I have built houses since I was teenager, and I wouldn't do anything else for a living. 3. I have built houses since I was a teenager, but I can't wait to quit. 4. I have built houses since I was a teenager; I plan to keep doing it. 5. I have built houses since I was a teenager; nonetheless, I hope one day to explore new areas of employment.

NOTE: One can effectively join ideas with compound sentences, but try not to string ideas together with a series of "and" clauses. Split unneeded compounds into two simple sentences, use semicolons in place of "and," or revise the entire sentence.

Complex Sentences Complex sentences have one independent clause and two or more dependent clauses, each beginning with a subordinate conjunction (because, even though, while, when, who, etc.). Although we lived in Maine when I was a child landed a better job there. Dependent clauses tell: how why where when NOTE: Choosing the appropriate conjunction shows how language and thought combine on the page. Sometimes a writer elects to revise a simple or compound sentence into a complex sentence (or vice versa) to show that the subordinated idea is a condition, a cause, or a consequence of the main clause in the sentence. who or what under what circumstances we moved to Vermontbecause my father

Compound Complex Sentences Compound complex sentences have two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. Although we lived in Maine when I was a small child father landed a better job there family. we moved to Vermontbecause my

and he knew that meant a greater opportunity for the whole

NOTE: Don't force too many thoughts into one sentence; it will confuse your readers and weaken your writing. Some of the worst sentences are long and clunky with 1) too many clauses, and 2) too many words between the subject and the verb of a clause. Example: My father, who loves us dearly and whom I've admired for my entire life, now lives, because he is elderly, in a small townhouse, where all of the amenities are on one floor, which makes his day-to-day activities, since he is somewhat feeble in his old age, and that puts my mind, as well as the minds of his friends, who are also elderly or who live far way, at ease.

Types of Sentences

Logical Operation
State one thought

Turbo Mustangs have great speed. Seasoned drivers love cars with powerful engines. Muscle cars have multiple features. Turbo Mustangs are speedy, and many drivers praise them for this. Turbo Mustangs are speedy, but not everyone appreciates this. Turbo Mustangs can be dangerous, or they can be safe. Cats are carnivores; they eat meat. Cats are carnivores; however , they will eat plants from time to time. Nonetheless, meat is their primary nutrition. Still, it wouldn't be unusual to see a cat munching on catnip. Having a cat is a big responsibility; moreover some cats require extensive grooming. Furthermore, it is an added expense. Also, cats can be finicky pets. Cats can be finicky pets; therefore, be prepared to see them turn their noses up to certain foods. They have very sensitive stomachs; thus, you will need to be patient with their ever-changing taste. Sets up a reason for the subsequent clause.


and, but, or Connect equal ideas, add a thought, or take exception.


semi-colon ( ; ) Shows a relationship between two complete sentences. however, nonetheless, still Qualify, take exception, reverse direction.

moreover, furthermore, also Emphasize, add.

therefore, thus Show causation.

because Combine main clauses with

one or more dependent clauses. since Use when showing time. Do not use since if you mean because. although, even though Qualify a thought: despite what is stated in the dependent clause, the main clause remains true.

Cats are finicky because they have very sensitive stomachs. I've been raising tabby cats since I was 12 years old. Although cats are independent spirits, they still make wonderful pets. I will always own cats even though they can sometimes be nasty. If you abuse a cat, then it will not offer you any affection.


If...then Establishes a condition and explains what would happen as a result. as if Treat your pet cat nicely, as Introduces an idea that if it is a member of the explains the main clause. family. so that, so Brush your cat's fur once a Offer a reason for the action of week so that it doesn't the main clause. develop clumps. Brush your cat's fur once a week, so it doesn't develop clumps.