The Sentence - An Overview

What is a Sentence?

A sentence consists a subject (the topic) and a predicate (what is said about the subject). It can be a statement, a question, an exclamation, or a command - usually starting with a capital letter and ending in a full stop- which is complete in itself as the expression of thought.

In speech, a sentence is any finished utterance that makes sense in its context.

What are the Types of Sentences?

Carefully varying sentence structures makes writing or speech engaging to readers or listeners. A sentence is often classified according to the distribution of independent and dependent clauses. Below are the four types of sentences:

1. Simple Sentence

This sentence structure consists of one subject and one verb. A simple sentence is also called an independent clause.

  • True friends (Subject) stab (Verb) you in the front. 
  • Curiosity (Subjectis (Verb) one thing invincible in nature.
  • Forgetting (Subject) is (Verb) a dreadful habit. 

2. Compound Sentence

A compound sentence is formed by combining two or more simple sentences. More precisely, a compound sentence has two or more independent clauses linked by coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so), conjunctive adverbs (eg: however, likewise, subsequently, etc.) or a semi-colon.

  • Friendship (subject) multiplies (verb) the good of life and divides (verb) the evil. (Independent clause 1: Friendship multiplies the good of life; Independent Clause 2: Friendship divides the evil; Coordinating Conjunction: "and")
  • My feet are bare (independent clause), and (coordinating conjunction) there is sand perpetually stuck between my toes (independent clause).
  • Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity. 

3. Complex Sentence

Complex sentences are formed by linking one or more subordinate clauses to one independent clause. Subordinators or subordinating conjunctions (eg: although, since, so that, etc.) and relative pronouns (eg:which, that, who, etc.) are used to link subordinate or dependent clauses to an independent clause.

  • A mind needs books (main clause) as (subordinator) a sword needs a whetstone (subordinate clause), if (subordinator) it is to keep its edge (subordinate clause). 
  • After nourishment, shelter and companionship (dependent or subordinate clause), stories are the thing we need most in the world (independent clause).
  • If I think back as far as I can (subordinate or dependent clause), I don't remember faces (independent clause).

4. Compound- Complex Sentence

When a sentence has two or more independent clauses and one or more subordinate clauses, it is referred to as a compound-complex sentence. Just like complex sentences, relative pronouns and subordinators are used to link these dependent clauses to independent clauses.

  • Doctors believed the spider entered the woman's home (independent clause) while the home was undergoing renovations (dependent clause), and crawled into her ear (independent clause) while she was sleeping (dependent clause). 
  • The flushing technique was successful (independent clause) and (coordinator) the woman wept with gratitude (independent clause) after (subordinator) being told the spider was removed (dependent clause).


  • Barron's IELTS: International English Language Testing System 2nd Ed. by Dr. Lin Lougheed (Barron's Educational Series Inc., 2006) 
  • Oxford Guide to Plain English 3rd Edition by Martin Cuss (Oxford University Press, 2009) 


Designed by Neil Yamit