Wordplay is a blog project featuring posts from students enrolled in ENG 320 Grammar and Linguistics (Fall 2019)

Sentence Structure

Tacie Lucas

Thomas E. Payne, 2011

What is sentence structure? Is it that important when writing a paper or even talking? Sentence structure is very important when writing papers and communicating. If we didn’t have sentence structure, grammar would be a hot mess. Did you know that there are four different types of sentences? The four types of sentence structures are simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences. These four types of sentences help explain how the clauses are formed, which clauses are being used, and the conjunctions a speaker or writer should use (Nadia). There is an independent clause, dependent clause, or both in every sentence structure. The independent clause and the dependent clauses are combined by a conjunction. Conjunctions are important when combining sentences because they combine the information all together, but still keep the ideas separate.

When I was in 6th grade, I remember being taught conjunctions and having a song that went with them to help us remember them. Till this day bits and pieces of the song are stuck in my head. If I wouldn’t have learned the conjunction song, I wouldn’t remember what a conjunction was or what it does. An independent clause is having a subject and a verb that can stand alone, and it doesn’t need another clause for support. The dependent clause cannot support itself; it needs to have an independent clause to make the sentence complete. I remember being taught these in elementary and still remember them till this day. Students need to be taught the sentences structures because it will help them write papers when they get older. Learning them helped me when I wrote my first paper in 7th grade. Looking at them today, they don’t really help me when I am writing a paper. I don’t think of them when I am writing. I just write what is on my mind and not if my sentence has structure such has subject and verb. They are still important to know and learn. The simplest one to know and learn is a simple sentence.

A simple sentence has an independent clause only. The sentence consists of one subject and one predicate. Some can have an object and modifiers.  An independent clause is a simple sentence because it has one subject and one predicate. A simple sentence can also have an object and modifier just as long as it contains one independent clause. Some examples of simple sentences are:

  • She read.
  • She completed her math review.
  • He organized his sources by theme.
  • They studied APA rules for many hours.

The second sentence structure is a compound sentence. A compound sentence consists of two independent clauses. The two independent clauses can be combined with a comma, a coordinating conjunction, or with a semicolon. The semicolon is not one that is used commonly. Compound sentences are used a lot in papers because it is simple to just insert a conjunction, comma, or semicolon. Compound sentences are one of my favorite sentence structures because all you have to do is insert a conjunction. Here are two examples of compound sentences:

  • She completed math review, and she created reference list.
  • They studied APA rules for many hours, but they realized there was still too much to learn.

Another sentence structure is the complex sentence. The word “complex” gives a hint that these sentences are a little harder. A complex sentence consists of at least one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. Most sentences begin with an independent clause, but if you have a sentence that begins with a dependent clause,  make sure that there is a comma after the dependent clause. By looking at the sentences below, you can tell if the sentences start with independent clauses or dependent clauses because they either have a comma or don’t have a comma to separate the clauses. Here are a few examples of compound sentences:

  • Although she completed her math review, she still needed to work on her English paper.
    • There is a comma in the sentence because it starts with a dependent clause.
  • Because he organized his sources by theme, it was easier for readers to follow.
  • They studied APA rules for many hours as they were so interesting.
    • There is not comma in the sentence because it starts with an independent clause.

The last sentence structure is compound-complex sentences. It’s the compound and the complex put together to make a more complicated sentence structure. Students tend to find this one hard to understand. The compound-complex sentence structure contains at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. In the compound-complex sentence, students need to be aware of the comma usage in the sentences because the reader needs to be able to follow the intended meaning. I feel like students and adults are making a compound-complex sentences, that are run-ons. I am not a huge fan of compound-complex sentences because I think they are run-ons. They would sound and look better if they were broken into two different sentences.  Some examples of compound-complex sentences are:

  • She completed her math review, but she still needs to work on her methods section even though she finished her course last semester.
  • Although he organized his sources by theme, he decided to arrange them chronologically, and he carefully followed the school meal plan organization.
  • With a sandwich and soda at hand, they studied APA rules for many hours, and they decided that writing in APA made sense because was clearer, concise, and objective.


“Grammar: Sentence Structure and Types of Sentences.” Academic Guides, https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/grammar/sentencestructure.

Nadia. (2014).“4 Main Types of Sentence Structure.” My English Teacher, https://www.myenglishteacher.eu/ask/question/what-are-the-main-types-of-sentence-structures/

Tacie Lucas is a junior studying K-8 education. She plans to teach 1st to 3rd grade in a rural school district. This is her first year at Chadron after transferring as junior from Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte, Nebraska, where she received an associates of art degree. She is from Hershey, Nebraska, which is twelve miles from North Platte, Nebraska.


One thought on “Wordplay: Sentence Structure

  1. Tacie this was a great post! I was also taught what each one of those sentence types is, how to identify them, and why I should use them in my writing. However, I also don’t pay attention when I’m writing to the types of sentences I write I just put down what I’m thinking. As a future teacher, I agree that this is an important topic to be taught to students. They need to know how to use the correct punctuation and various sentence types in their writing. Learning these rules will create good writers and more interesting stories and papers to read.


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