Types of Sentences

The sentences that we write can be classified in two ways:

1. By Structure

2. By Function
Command (imperative)

See Types of Questions

Sentences By Structure

In order to discuss sentence types by structure, you must be able to distinguish between two kinds of clauses, groups of words that have a subject and a verb.

An independent clause (main clause) has a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought. It is a sentence.

A dependent clause (subordinate clause) also has a subject and a verb but it does not express a complete thought. It is not a sentence.

1. Simple Sentences

Contain one independent clause.


I ate my lunch quickly.
My brother visited his uncle last week.
Daniel and Sarven play basketball every day.
Note: Above example contains a compound subject but it is still a simple sentence.

Birds sing

Birds sing beautifully

Sally dropped her books.

I made a cake for my mother.

He painted his house red.

Bill is a student.

Bill seemed tired.


S/V/Direct Object

S/V/D.O/Indirect Object


S/Linking Verb/N


2. Compound Sentences

Contain two or more independent clauses joined together in one of the three ways:

1. With a coma (,) and a coordinating conjunction FANBOYS (for / and / nor / but / or / yet / so) to show the relationship between the clauses.

    The students were tired, for they had studied all night without sleeping.
    Chris is playing the piano, and Jan is playing the guitar.
    The baby cannot be blamed for crying, nor can we blame its parents.
    Juan wanted to leave, but Gary did not.
    He must pass the final exam, or he will have to repeat the course.
    They were happy to escape the danger in their country, yet they knew they would miss their homeland.
    We were hurrying to prepare for the party, so everyone helped.

2. With a semicolon (;) when the ideas expressed are closely related.

    They were glad to leave the country; their lives were in danger.
    The students were exhausted; they had studied all night for their finals.
    We need to hurry; the plane leaves in an hour.

3. With a semicolon (;) and an adverbial conjunction.

consequently, moreover, nevertheless, therefore, however

    She was unhappy with her grade; consequently, she found a tutor.
    Her thesis needed work; moreover, her paragraphs lacked focus.
    She worked hard all semester; therefore, her grades improved.
    She worked hard all semester; nevertheless, she did not get an "A".

3. Complex Sentences

Contain one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses

A dependent clause may be joined by or begin with one of the following subordinating conjunctions that expresses the relationship between the clauses.





although, even though, while, though

because, since, as

if, when, unless

whenever, once, before, after, until, as soon as

where, wherever


Although the girl spoke no English, she found her way to the hotel.
The children stayed in the house all day since it was raining so hard.
If you want to do well in school, you must study regularly.
Our neighbor, who married last year, is expecting a baby.
Although the weather was bad, we went out.
Before my father arrived home, I finished all my homework.


Notice that you use a comma when the subordinator begins a sentence but not when it joins clauses.

4. Compound-complex Sentences

Contain two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.


When he listens to the radio, he turns the volume up, and the neighbors complain.
Although the power was out all over the city, Mr. Griffin got to work on time; therefore, he was able to attend an important meeting with his boss.
Our new manager, who took over the position last month, was a complete disappointment, so he resigned yesterday.
The car that was stolen yesterday was found, but it was damaged considerably.

Sentences By Function

1. Declarative

Declarative sentences simply declare something about a subject. They can be simple, compound, complex or compound complex.

Jennifer bought a new pillow from the supermarket.
Teddy read book all night.
Jimmy fell and broke his arm when snowboarding.

2. Interrogative Sentences

Interrogative sentences ask questions. There are two types of questions posed:

Yes-No Questions

Are you tired?
Will you come with me?
Must I eat this?

Questions requiring other answers

How did you break your arm?
When did it snow?
Why is the water not blue?

These questions begin with question words (who, what, when, how...)

Types of Questions Details

3. Exclamation Sentences

These express warning, surprise, alarm, anger, etc.

Oh Wow!
Are you serious!
I can't believe this!

4. Imperative Sentences

Imperative sentences give an order or make a request.

Report to the police station.
Come here.
Do what I say.

Usually the subject is not stated and it is implied pronoun "you".