TYPES OF SENTENCES IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: A GUIDE TO GRAMMAR AND SYNTAX
Did you know that there are four main types of sentences in the English language? Each one is used for a different purpose, and understanding the differences can make your writing much stronger. If you’re learning English and are getting a little confused with sentence structure, understanding different sentence types is important.
Whether you’re learning the English language or you want to sharpen your writing skills to produce A+ assignments for your classes, you’ll want to brush up on your grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure skills. If you don’t know how to form a proper sentence or use the right grammar conventions, you may send the wrong message or end up miscommunicating the meaning of what you’re saying.
Ready to learn all about the different types of sentences to help make your writing amazing and blow your professor’s mind? Let’s get started.
WHY SENTENCE TYPES MATTER
Wondering why should you care about sentence types? The more you learn about grammar and proper syntax, the stronger your writing will be. Sentences and grammar are the foundation for proper communication in English. Anywhere you go, you’ll need to be able to form sentences in order to talk to people, write assignments, look for jobs or write cover letters, and generally hold down conversations.
The more types of sentences you learn and practice, the better your writing will become because you can use varied sentences and keep things more interesting. In turn, this helps you build clear and strong communication, whether you’re writing an email or a term paper.
HOW TO BUILD A SENTENCE
There are four main types of sentences in the English language. But before we get to that, let’s talk about the construction of a sentence.
Every complete sentence needs two things: the subject and the verb. The verb is the action being performed, and the subject is the person, place, or object performing the action. Usually, the subject is a noun, pronoun, or proper noun.
Here is a very basic example sentence: Jane loves to read books.
In this sentence, “Jane” is the subject and “read” is the verb. Jane is the person performing the action, which is reading (the verb). Therefore, this is a complete sentence.
Now, here is an example of an incomplete sentence: Because she reads books.
This sentence contains a verb, but it’s missing a subject. Without the subject, we don’t know who reads books and do not have the full context to understand what’s happening.
Incomplete sentences often come up in casual conversations, as most people don’t take the time to speak in full, proper sentences when they are in a deep conversation or telling a story. Therefore, it can be confusing to understand the difference when you’re learning the English language.
INDEPENDENT AND DEPENDENT CLAUSES
Complete and incomplete sentences are also referred to as independent and dependent clauses.
The independent clause: A complete sentence that can stand on its own and communicates a clear thought. You can spot an independent clause easily by identifying the subject and the verb, or if you aren’t left with any questions.
Here are some examples of independent clauses:
● John was studying for his science test in the coffee shop.
● I forgot it was going to rain today and didn’t pack an umbrella.
● Mike has a meeting this afternoon.
● The grocery store closes at 9 p.m. today.
● Juan has decided to learn English.
● Tom is moving to England next year.
The dependent clause: An incomplete sentence that cannot stand on its own and does not communicate a clear, complete thought. Usually, you can spot a dependent clause because it likely has a transition word or a conjunction at the beginning or end, or leaves you wondering something. Don’t be fooled if your dependent clause contains a subject and a verb – it still has to express a complete thought to count as a full sentence.
Here are some examples of dependent clauses:
● When John was studying for his science test…
● Because I forgot we had an exam today…
● Although she wanted something new…
● As the lights went out…
● Before your dinner gets cold…
● When your father gets home…
Each of these sentences doesn’t express a complete thought and leaves the reader confused. What happened when John was studying for his science test? You forgot you had an exam, so what happened next? Make sure you’re always filling in those gaps through proper, complete sentences – especially in your academic writing.
Independent and dependent clauses are often put together in more cohesive sentences using punctuation such as commas, colons, or semicolons. When they are blended together, they are classified as complex sentences.
SIMPLE, COMPOUND, AND COMPLEX SENTENCES
Before we go into the core types of sentences, it’s important to learn how sentences are classified. The classification of a sentence is formed based on the number of independent and dependent clauses it contains.