The Structure of English Language — Sentence Structures

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Simple sentences | compound sentences | multiple sentences | complex sentences

Simple sentences

The most basic sentence form contains a single clause. This is known as a simple sentence:

  • Mary had a little lamb.
  • Coffee is intoxicating.
  • Down fell the rain.

Compound sentences

A compound sentence joins two coordinate clauses together:

  • Mary had a little lamb and took it to school.
  • I drank some coffee and could not sleep.
  • Here is a wug and here are two wugs.

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Multiple sentences

A multiple sentence links clauses of essentially similar type, with coordinating conjunctions.

  • I came home, sat down, put the kettle on, lit the fire and sat down with a book.

Complex sentences

A complex sentence uses subordination to link clauses. It is not necessarily very "complex" in the everyday sense (that is, difficult to analyse), but it may be:

  • I hope that she will come.
  • Lest you forget, here is my address.
  • Having played football and cycled home, I sat in the bath, thinking of how to spend the evening, which loomed before me promisingly, while downstairs in the kitchen the kettle boiled vigorously.

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