Sentence Structure I. Simple Sentences

How to Simply Get a Sentence

by Owen Fourie

You simply do not want to get a sentence for anything that will send you to jail, so let’s focus on this safer simple-sentence activity in grammar.

Turn! Did you turn? If you did, you have acted on a direction or a command given in an imperative sentence.

We usually think of a sentence as more than one word, but a single word can also amount to a sentence. This is true if it is clear that there is a missing word that is understood to be the subject. In this case, the missing word is “you”: [You], turn!

If we are speaking of types or kinds of sentences, this is an imperative sentence, as we have already noted.

If we are speaking of sentence structure, this is the shortest form of a simple sentence.

Types or kinds of sentences

There are four kinds of sentences serving different functions according to the speaker’s intention:

  1. A declarative sentence makes a statement and ends with a full stop or period: This car was assembled in 1961.
  2. An interrogative sentence asks a question and ends with a question mark: When was that other car assembled?
  3. An exclamatory sentence expresses strong emotion and ends with an exclamation mark: That car is exquisite!
  4. An imperative sentence gives a command or a direction and can end with a period or, if it is urgent, an exclamation mark: Don’t scratch the paintwork!

To express our ideas in speech and in writing, we use various combinations of words such as phrases, clauses, and sentences. To state a complete thought, we could use a simple sentence.

Sentence structure

A simple sentence is one of several ways to structure a sentence. There are four structures:

  1. Simple;
  2. Compound;
  3. Complex;
  4. Compound-Complex or Complex-compound.

The importance of sentence structure for your writing

As you write essays, it is necessary to have a good mix of sentences to make it interesting.

An unbroken series of simple sentences in an essay is simply unacceptable. Not only will it bore the reader, but it will also reflect an immature style of writing. The writing will lack an aesthetic flow.

Using the simple sentence in an essay is an art. It is most effective when used occasionally to grab the reader’s attention or to express the gist of an argument.

Too many compound or complex sentences without the occasional intervention of a simple sentence could make your essay difficult to read. Your reader might find your writing hard to understand.

Proper development in writing requires a knowledge of the variety of sentence structures as well as a conscious effort to use these structures in a good mix as you compose an essay.

In this article, we’ll consider the simple sentence. The other structures will be discussed in a few posts that will follow this one.

The simple sentence

The various structures have nothing to do with the length of a sentence. A long sentence can be a simple sentence.

The following statements are all simple sentences. Note the progression from one word to many words:

  • Turn!
  • The car turns.
  • The car turns quickly.
  • The silver car on the newly tarred road turns quickly into our shaded driveway.
  • With a preceding screech of its brakes, the silver car on the newly tarred road turns quickly into our shaded driveway.

Prepositional phrases can be used to modify the subject and the verb. Adjectives can modify the subject, and adverbs can modify the verb.

The elements of a simple sentence

A simple sentence is one independent clause consisting of

  • a subject or a subject understood, as in “[You], turn!” The subject may also be a compound;
  • a predicate—a single-word verb or a compound verb or a verb phrase;
  • a complete thought.

Here is a simple sentence with a compound subject:

The car and the motorbike collided in the intersection.

Here is a simple sentence with a compound verb:

The car turned and stopped in our driveway.

If you define a verb phrase as a phrase that includes the verb, its auxiliaries, its complements, and other modifiers, then it is illustrated above, to some extent, in the words, “turns quickly into our shaded driveway.”

We’ll look at the compound sentence in the next post.


Do you have any special technique to help you to produce a good mix of sentence structures in your essays? If so, please tell us what you do to achieve this. Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

Here are more articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

Copyright © 2011 by English Essay Writing Tips

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