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Go Back to the Basics and Learn the Different Kinds of Sentences

Kinds of Sentences
Do you want to understand the different types of sentences? Read on to learn more.
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
Linguistically, sentences are the means of communication that human beings use to express themselves. All sentences are made up of one or more words which meaningfully make up exclamations, questions, declarations, etc.

Any sentence in the English language is made up of one or more clause. A clause is of two types; independent clause and dependent clause. An independent clause consists of a subject, a predicate, and is characterized by a complete thought. A dependent clause has a subject and a predicate but the thought in the sentence is not complete. A subject is the noun phrase in a sentence, which can also be substituted by a gerund phrase. The predicate is the finite verb phase. To explain this better, let us take a look at the following sentence:
  • I ran a marathon for the first time last year.
  • After I ran my first marathon last year.
The first sentence is made up of an independent clause, where 'I' is the subject, 'ran' is the predicate, and there is a complete thought. But the second sentence is a dependent clause which has a subject (I) and a predicate (ran) but will make sense only when combined with another clause. Given below are different types of sentences that are used in English language and the ways in which they are categorized according to the rules of English grammar.

Sentences by Structure

According to grammar and composition, there are four types of sentences.

Simple Sentences
A simple sentence is one that is made up of an independent clause and has no dependent clauses. It therefore, has one subject and one predicate. An example of a simple sentence is given below:

The fox jumped over the fence.
In this sentence the noun, fox is the subject and the verb, jumped, is the predicate.

Compound Sentences
A compound sentence is made of two independent clauses, which is joined by a conjunction. The conjunction joining a compound sentence can be one of the three types, coordinating conjunction (which are words like for, and, but, etc.), conjunctive adverbs (joined by words like however, therefore, etc.) and a semicolon. Examples of each of the different types of sentences are given below:
  • Tom ate the cake and Jeremy ate the chips.
    This would be an example of compound sentence which uses a coordinating conjunction.
  • Tom ate the cake, however, Jeremy ate the chips.
    The sentence given above would be an example of compound sentence formed with the help of a conjunctive adverb.
  • I had a party; Tom did not come.
    Using a semicolon to join two independent clauses given above makes it an example of a compound sentence.
Complex Sentences
A sentence that has at least one dependent clause which is joined with the help of either a subordinating conjunction like although or because or relative pronouns like who or which. Given below is an example of a complex sentence:

Although Cathy thought that she had prepared well for the exam, she still could not answer all the questions.

Complex - Compound Sentences
A sentence that is formed by two independent clauses but also has a dependent clause is known as a complex - compound sentence or compound - complex sentence. An example of the same is given below:

I had a table, chair and computer for my work, but my boss, who obviously held a higher position, had a cubicle of his own.

The independent clauses in this sentence are:
  • I had a table, chair and computer for my work.
  • My boss had a cubicle of his own.
The dependent clause in the sentence is: 'Who obviously held a higher position'

These were the kinds of sentences depending on the structure of the sentences. Categorization of sentences can also be done on the basis of the purpose of the sentence.

Sentences by Purpose

There are four types of sentences in English language which can be categorized depending on the purpose for which they are used and the way they are spoken.

Declarative Sentences
A sentence in which a person speaking it makes a declaration or a statement is known as a declarative sentence.
School gets over in an hour.

Interrogative Sentences
As is understood by the name of this type of sentence, it is framed as a question and is used to get information.
Why do you go to the university every Friday?

Exclamatory Sentences
A sentence in which the speaker makes an emphatic expression of emotion in the statement.
This is a brilliant day!

Imperative Sentences
An imperative sentence is one in which the speaker gives someone else a command to do something.
Go and pick up the courier from the station in the evening.

Hope the above explanation on the different sentence types in English has elucidated the facts clearly for you.