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The Four Kinds of Sentences


Good writing mixes up the length and complexity of the sentences within a piece of writing. It's the same way that good songs mix up different notes and melodies, and good golfers use different kinds of shots. Here are the four basic kinds of sentences you should use, in order of how often you should use them:


Simple sentence:


One independent clause - one subject (usually a noun) and one predicate (usually a verb) - including modifying words for either, expressing a complete thought.


Sally sells seashells by the seashore.


Compound sentence:


Two or more independent clauses, usually held together by a conjunction (and, but, or) and a comma or semicolon.


Sally sells seashells by the seashore, and she buys baseballs by the bazillion.


Complex sentence:


One independent clause and one or more dependent clauses that work together to clarify the relationship between two different thoughts. A dependent clause isn't complete because it lacks either a subject or a predicate. See how the phrase that ends with "seashore" couldn't stand by itself as a sentence:


Because Sally sells seashells by the seashore, she has to shell out a lot of cash.


Compound-complex sentence:


Two or more independent clauses with one or more dependent clauses. See how the phrase that begins with "and" couldn't stand by itself? It's the dependent clause, and the other two are independent clauses:


Sally sells seashells by the seashore, and although she buys baseballs by the bazillion, she never runs out of cash or customers.



By Susan Darst Williams Grammar Granny 028 2006


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