declarative | imperative | interrogative | exclamatory
simple | compound | complex | compound-complex
A declarative sentence simply makes a statement. It ends with a period.
John is president of the senior class.
An imperative sentences gives a command or makes a request in command form. It usually ends with a period, but can end with an exclamation point if the command is urgent.
Please, close the door. or Come here right now!
An interrogative sentence asks a question. It ends with a question mark.
What time does the party begin?
An exclamatory sentence shows strong feelings, perhaps of danger, joy, surprise, or disappointment.
We've just won the lottery!
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A simple sentence is one with a single main clause, that is, only one subject-verb structure. Simple sentences come in a variety of patterns, some with complements.
This pattern is the most basic of all. A subject indicating who or what the sentence is about is followed by a predicate (a verb and its modifiers). The verb is always intransitive, as this pattern has no direct object.John sings.
This patterns adds a direct object, a noun or pronoun that receives the action performed by the subject. The verb is always transitive.John sings ballads. "Ballads" tells us "what" John sings.
This patterns add more information. The indirect object tells us "to whom" or "for whom" the subject performs the action.
John sings his baby sister ballads. "Sister" tells us "to whom" or "for whom" John sings.
This pattern adds information about the direct object by adding an objective complement. The objective complement always refers to the direct object.The farmer had painted his barn purple. "Purple" describes the direct object "barn." An objective complement can be an adjective.
A sentence containing an indirect object can be rewritten in the passive voice. The indirect object or the direct object of the original sentence can become the subject of the new sentence.The museum guide showed the visitors the famous paintings.
This second example involves a sentence with the pattern S-V-DO-OC. The direct object of the original sentence can become the subject of the new sentenceThe class elected Maria president.
Passive voice verbs are never transitive (and can therefore never have a direct object). When you find what appears to be a direct object in a passive voice sentence, it is probably a retained object. It is either the indirect object or the direct object or an objective complement that has been "retained" from the original active-voice sentence.
The verb in this pattern does not show action; it shows a condition or state of being. The "linking verb" (LV) ties or links the subject and the "subject complement"; in other words, the "subject complement" (SC) either renames the subject or describes the subject.
Identify the sentence pattern used in each of the following sentences:
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A compound sentence combines two or more (almost always only two) simple sentences into one longer sentence. Before two simple sentences can be joined into one compound sentence, the simple sentences must pass a test by answering "YES" to both these questions:
If either of these questions is answered with a "no," do not form a compound sentence!
Examine these two simple sentences:
These two simple sentences pass the test above: they convey related ideas, the preference for flavors of ice cream, and they are equally important. There are only three ways to properly form a compound sentence from these two simple sentences:
There are only seven coordinating conjunctions. Use the one that shows the best relationship between the two sentences. Since the two sentences show different preferences in ice cream, the coordinating conjunction but will work well:
I like vanilla ice cream, but my brother prefers chocolate [ice cream]. The second "ice cream" can be omitted since we know clearly the topic.
When two simple sentences are so clearly related that no connecting word is needed to show that relationship, a semicolon by itself can be used:
I like vanilla ice cream; my brother prefers chocolate.
This is not only the most sophisticated method of forming compound sentences, but also the most versitile because of the many conjunctive adverbs available to show the exact relationship between the two simple sentences.
I like vanilla ice cream; however, my brother prefers chocolate.
Notice that many conjunctive adverbs will not work because they make no sense or do not capture the relationship between the two simple sentences. For example, the following, though using a conjunctive adverb, simply will not work:
I like vanilla ice cream; otherwise, my brother prefers chocolate.
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A complex sentence is one that contains one main clause (sometimes called an "independent clause") and one or more subordinate clauses. A subordinate clause is subject-verb structure that does not express a complete thought and can therefore not be written as a stand-alone sentence.
The idea expressed in the main clause is considered more important than the idea expressed in the subordinate clause, but a clear distinction is not always evident. The word "subordinate" means "beneath in rank" or "lesser than." The idea in the subordinate clause may be different in degree, in order, in time, or in importance.The following are examples of complex sentences:
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A compound-complex sentence is, as you might guess, a combination of a compound sentence and a complex sentence. A compound-complex sentence has two or more main clauses (usually only two) and one or more subordinate clauses.
The following are examples of compound-complex sentences:
Identify the sentence type of each of the following sentences by its structure:
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