Sentences and Sentence Structures

A sentence is a series of words put together to express an idea. It can contain a statement, question, suggestion, command, request or exclamation. Sentences assume four basic forms. These sentence forms are declarative, interrogative, imperative and exclamatory.

● Declarative sentences make a statement or convey information. This type of sentence is punctuated with a period.

● Interrogative sentences pose a question and request information. In all cases, this sentence form ends in a question mark.

● Imperative sentences offer a command or a request. Either a period or exclamation point can work for this type of sentence.

● Exclamatory sentences express strong emotions. They are used to express surprise, fear, anger and other similar feelings. This sentence form usually ends with an exclamation point.

Sentence structure varies with all four basic sentence forms. Each sentence can be defined as simple, compound, complex or compound-complex.

A simple sentence contains a subject and predicate. The subject is typically a noun phrase and the predicate is a verb or verb phrase. Compound subjects or compound verbs can also be used in simple sentences. A simple sentence is considered to be an independent clause because it expresses a complete thought. A dependent clause, on the other hand, cannot express a complete thought by itself.

A compound sentence contains a pair of independent clauses. These clauses are joined together by a conjunction between the first clause and the second clause. A comma is sometimes used in a compound sentence to join the two independent clauses together.

In a complex sentence, a main clause is joined together with one or more dependent clauses. A complex sentence always contains a subordinate word or a relative pronoun that connect the clauses. If a subordinate word begins a sentence, a comma is needed at the end of the dependent clause. No comma is required when that sentence begins with an independent clause.

With a compound-complex sentence, there are multiple independent clauses in the same sentence. At least one clause in the sentence must function as a dependent clause.

Using variety in sentence construction helps to make sentences feel polished and readable. A bunch of short sentences creates choppy flow. Too many long sentences can create distraction and confusion.