Sentence clause structure
A simple sentence consists of only one clause. A compound sentence consists of two or more independent clauses. A complex sentence has at least one independent clause plus at least one dependent clause. A set of words with no independent clause may be an incomplete sentence, also called a sentence fragment.
Sentence 1 is an example of a simple sentence. Sentence 2 is compound, while sentence 3 is complex. Sentence 4 is compound-complex (also known as complex-compound). Example 5 is a sentence fragment.
- I like pumpkin pie.
- I don't know how to bake, so I buy my sweets.
- I enjoyed the apple pie that you bought for me.
- The dog lived in the garden, but the cat, who was smarter, lived inside the house.
- What a silly dog.
The simple sentence in example 1 contains one clause. Example two has two clauses (I don't know how to bake and I buy my sweets), combined into a single sentence with the coordinating conjunction so. In example 3, I enjoyed the apple pie is an independent clause, and that you bought for me is a dependent clause; the sentence is thus complex. In sentence 4, The dog lived in the garden and the cat lived inside the house are both independent clauses; which was smarter is a dependent clause. Example 5 features a noun phrase but no verb. It is not a grammatically complete clause.
- I run.
- The girl ran into her bedroom.
This simple sentence has one independent clause which contains one subject, girl, and one predicate, ran into her bedroom. The predicate is a verb phrase that consists of more than one word.
- In the backyard, the dog barked and howled at the cat.
This simple sentence has one independent clause which contains one subject, dog, and one predicate, barked and howled at the cat. This predicate has two verbs, known as a compound predicate: barked and howled. This compound verb should not be confused with a compound sentence. In the backyard and at the cat are prepositional phrases.
A compound sentence is composed of at least two independent clauses. It does not require a dependent clause. The clauses are joined by a coordinating conjunction (with or without a comma), a semicolon that functions as a conjunction, a colon instead of a semicolon between two sentences when the second sentence explains or illustrates the first sentence and no coordinating conjunction is being used to connect the sentences, or a conjunctive adverb preceded by a semicolon. A conjunction can be used to make a compound sentence. Conjunctions are words such as for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so (the first letters of which spell "fanboys"). The use of a comma to separate two independent clauses without the addition of an appropriate conjunction is called a comma splice and is generally considered an error (when used in the English language).
An incomplete sentence, or sentence fragment, is a set of words which does not form a complete sentence, either because it does not express a complete thought or because it lacks some obligatory grammatical element, such as a subject or a verb. A dependent clause without an independent clause is one example of an incomplete sentence.
Some prescriptive grammars consider sentences starting with a conjunction such as but or and as incomplete sentences, but this style prescription has "no historical or grammatical foundation". Computer grammar checkers often highlight incomplete sentences. If the context is clear from the rest of the paragraph, however, an incomplete sentence may be considered perfectly acceptable English.[unreliable source?]
- Huddleston, Rodney (1984). Introduction to the Grammar of English. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-29704-2.
- "The Compound-Complex Sentence". Evergreen Writing Center. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
- Rozakis, Laurie (2003). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style pp. 167–168. Alpha. ISBN 1-59257-115-8.
- Sinclair, Christine (2007). Grammar: Getting it Right. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-335-22008-3.
- e.g. H. W. Fowler in Modern English Usage on BUT, p. 60 in the first edition.
- The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2010. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-226-10420-1.
- "Sentence fragments". commnet.edu. 20 December 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
|Look up incomplete sentence in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- "Sentence Types". Online Writing Lab. Purdue University. 1995. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- Campos Noguera, José Manuel. "Complex sentences". English Post: English Language Learning and Teaching. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "Forming Complex Sentences with Subordinating Conjunctions".
- "Independent and Dependent Clauses".