sentence structure

 

Simple sentences:

A simple sentence has only one clause:

The children were laughing.
John wanted a new bicycle.
All the girls are learning English.

Compound sentences:

A compound sentence has two or more clauses:

(We stayed behind) and (finished the job)
(We stayed behind) and (finished the job), then (we went home)

The clauses in a compound sentence are joined by co-ordinating conjunctions:

John shouted and everybody waved.
We looked everywhere but we couldn’t find him.
They are coming by car so they should be here soon.

The common coordinating conjunctions are:

and – but – or – nor – so – then – yet

Complex sentences:

A complex sentence has a main clause and one or more adverbial clauses. Adverbial clauses usually come after the main clause:

Her father died when she was very young
>>>
Her father died (main clause)
when (subordinating conjunction)
she was very young (adverbial clause)

She had a difficult childhood because her father died when she was very young.
>>>
She had a difficult childhood (main clause)
because (subordinating conjunction)
her father died (adverbial clause)
when (subordinating conjunction)
she was very young (adverbial clause).

Some subordinate clauses can come in front of the main clause:

Although a few snakes are dangerous most of them are quite harmless
>>>
Although (subordinating conjunction)
some snakes are dangerous (adverbial clause)
most of them are harmless (main clause).

A sentence can contain both subordinate and coordinate clauses:

Although she has always lived in France, she speaks fluent English because her mother was American and her father was Nigerian
>>>
Although (subordinating conjunction)
she has always lived in France (adverbial clause),
she speaks fluent English (main clause)
because (subordinating conjunction)
her mother was American (adverbial clause)
and (coordinating conjunction)
her father was Nigerian (adverbial clause).

There are seven types of adverbial clauses:

  Common conjunctions
Contrast clauses  although; though; even though; while;
Reason clauses because; since; as
Place clauses where; wherever; everywhere
Purpose clauses so that; so; because + want
Result clauses so that; so … that; such … that
Time clauses when; before; after; since; while; as; as soon as; by the time; until
Conditional clauses  if; unless; provided (that); as long as
   

Complete the sentences with conjunctions

Match conjunctions to functions

 

Comments

I'm confused about certain sentences. Such as "In a multi-racial country such as Singapore, English is the lingua franca among people of different races. " I cannot be sure whether this is a simple sentence. If someone could be kind enough to throw me some light over this matter, it will definitely be of great help to me. I am looking forward to your reply. Thank you for your time.

Hello ColtraneYiu,

A simple sentence is one which has only one clause. Any clause must have, at a minimum, a subject and a predicate (verb). If you look at your sentence you will see that there is only one verb in the sentence: 'is'. Therefore the sentence has only one clause, and is a simple sentence.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,

Thank you so much for your reply.
I'm sorry for stealing your or others' time again, but I have some more questions in my mind right now. Would you please help me out one more time?

Let's look at this sentence.
"The computer, stored millions of valuable information, was destoryed by the fire. "
We can rewrite it like this:
"The computer, which had been stored millions of valuable information, was destroyed by the fire."
My question is that I'm not sure whether the first sentence is a complex sentence.

Let's look at the another sentence.
"Tired of his job, the man decided to resign. "
We can rewrite it like this:
"Being tired of his job, the man decided to resign. "
Then rewrite it again:
"The man, who was tired of his job, decided to resign. "
My problem is the same—whether the first sentence is a complex sentence?

Finally,this sentence.
"Exhausted, the bull stopped struggling. "
We can rewrite it as:
"Being exhausted, the bull stopped struggling"
Then:
"The bull, which was exhausted, stopped struggling. "

Same question again, whether the first sentence is a complex one?

BTW, if I made any mistake in these sentences, please let me know. I really want to improve my English, and I look forward to your reply. Thank you again.

Best wishes,

Coltrane.

Hello Coltrane,

As I understand it, all of those sentences are complex because reduced relative clauses (e.g. 'tired of his job', 'being exhausted', etc.) can be considered clauses.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk and Peter,

I can't thank you two enough. It's been a big help.

Best wishes,
Coltrane

Hi the LearnEnglish Team,
May I know this sentence "she is tall and long dark hair." is correct or not? How can I use the conjunction And? Thanks so much for your help!

Hello Fiona,

You've used 'and' correctly in this sentence, but the sentence is strange because we normally use 'have' to talk about a person's hair. I think you meant 'She is tall and has long dark hair'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Which one is correct "she knows my credit card number" or "she knows my credit card's number"? And please give me some explanation about the posession structure.

Hello Barita Bram,

We can say this in several ways:

she knows my credit card number

she knows my credit card's number

she knows the number of my credit card

All have the same meaning and are grammatically correct. However, what is correct is one question; what is normal (common or accepted) usage is a different question. Although the second option (with 's) is not incorrect, it is not standard usage. In modern English the first and the third are the normal ways to express this.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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