Sentence Types Handout

Simple, Compound, Complex, and Compound-Complex
1. Simple sentence – independent clause can stand by itself as a complete sentence
A simple sentence has a subject and a verb and completes a thought.
She went to the store. (subject = she / verb = went, predicate = went to the store.
Underline the subject, circle the predicate.
"Children are all foreigners."
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
"Mother died today."
(Albert Camus, The Stranger, 1942)
"Of course, no man is entirely in his right mind at any time."
(Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger)
"Early to rise and early to bed makes a male healthy and wealthy and dead."
(James Thurber)
"I'd rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph."
(Ken Kesey)
"Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise."
(Alice Walker)
"I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black
wool socks with dark blue clocks on them."
(Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, 1939)
"They shot the six cabinet ministers at half-past six in the morning against the wall of a hospital. There were
pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard. It rained hard. All
the shutters of the hospital were nailed shut. One of the ministers was sick with typhoid. Two soldiers carried
him downstairs and out into the rain."
(Ernest Hemingway, Chapter Five of In Our Time. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925)
"Atheism is a non-prophet organization."
(George Carlin)
2. Compound sentence – sentence made up of two independent clauses (or complete
sentences) connected to each other with a coordinating conjunction (FAN BOYS)
Tips: Show some type of relationship between the two independent clauses.
AND is overused.
Compound sentences can be formed in three ways:
(1) using coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet);
(2) using the semicolon, either with or without conjunctive adverbs;
(3) on occasion, using the colon.
Remember that independent clauses joined by and, but, for, or, nor, so, or yet are separated by a comma.
Other independent clauses are separated by a semicolon.
Highlight the coordinating conjunctions, semicolon, or colon.
"They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom."
(Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart, 1995)
"The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended."
(Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968)
"Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't go to yours."
(Yogi Berra)
"Feasts must be solemn and rare, or else they cease to be feasts."
(Aldous Huxley)
"Arguments are to be avoided: they are always vulgar and often convincing."
(Oscar Wilde)
3. Complex sentences – has one independent clause + one or more dependent clauses
Tips: a dependent clause cannot stand alone because it lacks some of the elements
of a complete sentence.
Underline independent clause
Circle dependent clauses
Martina laughed when her mother dropped a pie upside down on the floor.
"[W]hen my brother got his pants leg caught on the top of a high fence and hung upside down, weeping and
muttering curses because his pants were newly torn and Mother would spank him for sure, no angel was with
(Gary Soto, A Summer Life. University Press of New England, 1990)
"The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman stood up in a corner and kept quiet all night, although of course they
could not sleep."
(L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1990)
"Although volume upon volume is written to prove slavery a very good thing, we never hear of the man who
wishes to take the good of it by being a slave himself."
(Abraham Lincoln, "Fragment on Slavery," July 1854)
"Because he was so small, Stuart was often hard to find around the house."
(E.B. White, Stuart Little, 1945)
"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."
(Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854)
"He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow."
(George Eliot, Adam Bede, 1859)
4. Compound-Complex sentences - A compound-complex sentence is made from two
independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.
Underline independent clauses. Circle dependent clauses.
Although I like to go camping, I haven't had the time to go lately, and I haven't found anyone to go with.
We decided that the movie was too violent, but our children, who like to watch scary movies, thought that we were wrong.
"The Druids used mistletoe in ceremonies of human sacrifice, but most of all the evergreen became a symbol of
fertility because it flourished in winter when other plants withered."
(Sian Ellis, "England's Ancient 'Special Twig.'" British Heritage, January 2001)
"For in the end, freedom is a personal and lonely battle; and one faces down fears of today so that those of tomorrow
might be engaged."
(Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens, 1983)
"We operate under a jury system in this country, and as much as we complain about it, we have to admit that we
know of no better system, except possibly flipping a coin."
(Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage And/or Sex, 1987)
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
(Theodor Geisel [Dr. Seuss])
"In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit
that he has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only
upwards, not downwards."
(Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays, 1930)