Sentence Types

Performance Indicators

P.S. ELA-1 Language:   Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

A. Notice and correct grammatical and mechanical errors in writing.
B. Demonstrate command of correct sentence structure and variety.
C. Apply standard usage to formal speaking and writing.


Good writers vary the length of their sentences.

When forming groups of words, in the English language, two groups emerge, clauses and phrases.  A clause is a group of words containing a subject and its verb.  A clause may be either independent, capable of standing on its own as a complete thought or subordinate, an incomplete thought requiring additional information in order to make sense.

A phrase is a group of words that does not contain a subject and its verb.  A phrase always acts as a single part of speech.  A phrase may have a noun and a verb, but not the action for the subject in the group of words determined to be a phrase.

In order to understand the four types of sentences grouped according to English study, the learner needs to be able to differentiate between a clause and a phrase.  The number and arrangement of clauses in a sentence determines which type of sentence it is.  The number of phrases in a sentence are irrelevant in determining what type of sentence is in question.  This understanding is the essential knowledge for determining sentence types.

1.  Identify the independent clauses in a sentence.  An independent clause is the most important part of a sentence.  If a sentence has only one independent clause it is either simple or complex.

2.  If a sentence contains more than one independent clause the sentence is either compound or compound-complex.

3.  Next identify if there is a subordinate clause in the sentence.  Subordinate clauses, as you have learned, have to answer to some other information in the sentence.  By that  understanding a subordinate clause is not as essential as the independent clause.  The number of subordinate clauses in a sentence does not matter.  If there is a subordinate clause, the sentence is either complex or compound-complex.

4.  Phrases do not matter!  As you attempt to identify the sentence type, cross out the phrase(s), the sentence will be easier to identify without the phrase(s).

The cat ran under the car.

5.  You will do well to review the coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS) and the subordinating conjunctions in order to determine whether a clause is independent or subordinate.  Remember, just because a coordinating conjunction appears in a sentence does not mean the words following the coordinating conjunction are necessarily an independent clause.

EXAMPLE:  Fletcher and Scout are Liberty’s siblings.  
In this example the coordinating conjunction (and) joins to proper nouns not independent clauses.  The sentence is a simple sentence.  

Coordinating Conjunctions 
Subordinating Conjunctions 

The four sentence types are defined along with an example for each.

SIMPLE SENTENCE– has one independent clause and no subordinate clauses.  It has one subject and one verb, although both may be compound.

EXAMPLE:  Julia was exploring the island.

COMPOUND SENTENCE– has two or more independent clauses but no subordinate clauses.

EXAMPLE:  Victor thinks correctly and he is wrong.

COMPLEX SENTENCE– has one independent clause and at least one subordinate clause.

EXAMPLE:  Doug thought that the shirt was cool.  (Here the subordinate clause is the direct object of the independent clause.)

COMPOUND-COMPLEXcontains two or more independent clauses and at least one subordinate clause.

EXAMPLE:  Since she was not home, Kevin had been deceived, and Loser became his nickname. 


The following links will be helpful to you in order to prepare you for the sentence types test:

Sentence Types Quizlet #1
Sentence Type Quiz #1

Sentence Type Quiz #2
Sentence Type Quiz #3
Sentence Type Quiz #4
Sentence Type Quiz #5
Sentence Type Quiz #6
Sentence Type Quiz #7

A copy of the sentence types practice test follows; you are encouraged to use the above notes in order to complete the test.


Freshmen English                                                      Name:  __________________
Sentence Structure Quiz


INSTRUCTIONS:  Place the letter of the selection in the space next to the sentence that the sentence type identifies. 

A.  Simple          B. Compound          C. Complex          D. Compound/Complex


_____1. Owen laughed at the bird after it hit the window.

_____2. Hunter yodeled and Jade sang.

_____3.  Hunter yodeled while Jade sang.

_____4. Michaela ran after the balloon as Logan slingshotted it and the balloon
                  went pop!
_____5. Although Brunswick has the better team, it lost.

_____6. Henry lost his way, staring at the valley below.

_____7. Cody passed the test because he studied well and he understood the material.

_____8. Cody was hunting a bear, Donald was hunting a panther and Jacy was hunting
                  Cody and Donald.
_____9. Cody had two dogs, Blue and Bluebell.

_____10. When Logan and Josh moved to New York, they opened their own gymnasium
                     in their basketball coach’s name.
_____11. The presentation was successful, so Jade and Michaela told their teacher
                    to give them a good grade.
_____12. When Cody arrived, he brought Bluebell, the family dog.

_____13. Henry could not speak any French; he had never left his home while he was
                   growing up.
_____14. When the car arrived, Josh was greeted by two rough-looking young men.

_____15. Each boy wore a flamboyant shirt with a pink bow.

_____16. Jacey’s neighbors welcomed him to his new home, but they were amazed by his
                   unusual appearance.
_____17. Owen looked like so many new students that Donald and Tyler had ridiculed in
                   the past; they had funny attitudes.
_____18. Jade hid from Henry under the table at Hunter’s concert in Zurich, Switzerland.

_____19. Although Donald and Tyler already had plans, Owen hung around with the
_____20. The teakettle whistled; the cat hissed, while the telephone rang.

ANSWERS:  1. c, 2. b, 3. c, 4. d, 5. c, 6. a, 7. d, 8. b, 9. a, 10. c, 11. b, 12. c, 13. d
                       14. c, 15. a, 16. b, 17. d, 18. a, 19. c, 20. d