What You Should Know About Sentence Structure in English

In: How to

Language can be rather a complex thing and you understand it when you try to write well. On our blog we often discuss different grammar concepts to make writing academic papers easier for you. Everyone knows that in order to craft strong paragraphs and sentences you need to be good at grammar. When we talk about grammar, we usually first of all think about the verb tenses, rules of forming possessives, passive voice, spelling, punctuation, etc. What we often forget about is sentences. A sentence is not just a proper subject and verb agreement, but much more. There are actually different types of sentences. If you have problems with forming proper sentence structure, try our editing services, which are available online all over the world.

Sentences: Main Writer’s Tools

The sentence structure is like a framework that keeps all words together. If this framework falls apart the words lose their meaning and can’t operate as one whole anymore. If you learn basic types of sentence structure you will be able not only to craft better sentences, but to understand grammar better, since you will see the meaning behind all those grammar rules.  Those basic types of sentences for a writer are like must-have tools for a mechanic. You could have all the details, which in your case are words, but without your main tools — sentences — you would not be able to put them together into one functioning device. Therefore, basic sentence types are one of the most important parts of English grammar, because a sentence structure determines the adequate use of other grammar aspects. 

Four Types of Sentences by Structure

A simple sentence is formed by a single independent clause. A clause is the smallest unit of language, which can express a complete thought. It requires two main building blocks: a subject and a predicate. As a rule a predicate is presented in the form of verbal phrase that can be accompanied by additional modifiers. The subject can also have various forms: a double subject (my friend and I), a complex subject (our old house). Therefore simple sentence doesn’t necessarily have to be short and consist of only one subject and verb.  For example:

I have a car;

Priscilla doesn’t like tomatoes;

Bonny and his mother went to the circus last week;

Her new red dress could be seen from a far.

A compound sentence consists of two independent clauses combined with the help of linking words (and, but, or, so, however, etc). Each clause expresses full complete thought and can be presented as a single simple sentence. In compound sentences clauses don’t depend on each other and, unless we join them by linking words, can be used separately without losing their meaning.

He worked hard, but she was still dissatisfied;

Kids demanded something sweet, so mother backed the whole large tray of blueberry muffins;

Jimmy and his father fished the whole day long, however they didn’t catch a single fish;

That blue vintage car was sold yesterday at the auction, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough money to buy it.

A complex sentence consists of an independent clause and one or several dependent clauses. Dependent clause doesn’t express a full complete idea and cannot be used separately as a simple sentence even though it has a subject and a verb. In the following examples the main independent clause is underlined.

Whatever happens, you can always rely on me;

Even though she was on the beautiful seashore, she still felt unhappy;

The cake, though too sweet for my taste, was very delicious;

He was painfully shy, until he started working at this new job.

A compound-complex sentence is a combination of a compound and a complex sentence. The compound part of the sentence means that there are at least two independent clauses. And the complex one indicates that it also includes an independent and at least one dependent clause.

I could have invited her to dance to the song she liked, but another boy went before me.

I could have invited her to dance independent clause;

To the song she liked dependent clause;

But another boy went before me one more independent clause.

Four Types of Sentences by Emphasis

Apart from one classification of sentences based on their structure, there is another one based on their emphasis.

Declarative sentence is used to convey some information or make a statement. There is always a period at the end of a declarative sentence. This type of sentences is used a lot in formal and academic writing. For example a classical essay would mostly consist of declarative sentences. On our blog you can find free samples of essays. Check them out to see what kinds of sentences are used in them. Here are some examples of declarative sentences:

My family has three generations of doctors;

The compound sentence is made up of two independent clauses;

London is a capital of Great Britain.

Imperative sentences are used to make commands, give orders, make requests or express wishes and desires. An imperative sentence can end with a simple period or an exclamation mark, if it is exclamatory. Such sentence can be made of one single verb or more complex phrases. For example:


Be aware of the bears.

Keep silence.

Exclamatory sentences are used to describe strong emotions. Such sentence always ends with exclamation mark. Use them very sparingly in your writing, only when they are impossible to avoid. Exclamatory sentences are most commonly used in fiction, but are highly undesirable in formal and academic writing. See some examples of exclamatory sentences below:

I won the lottery!

Don’t touch the snake!

Stop the car!

Interrogative sentences are those that ask a question and naturally at the end of each such sentence you will see question mark. For example:

Are you hungry?

Is the weather warm there?

Could you name four types of sentences?

Use All Types to Write Well

All sentences that you see in the writing can be classified according to their structure and emphasis. To write good essays and academic papers you have to be aware of these structures and use them accordingly. When you write try to combine different types of sentences to make your writing richer and more compelling. If you upload your paper at Get Essay Editor website, our editors will help you to apply appropriate sentence structures. Furthermore, they will fix other grammatical punctuation and spelling mistakes. You should have no doubts about using our editing services because the prices are very student-friendly.