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Online Writing Lab

Sentence Types

There are four different types of sentences: simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, and complex-compound sentences.

Simple sentence: 

A simple sentence contains one independent clause and no dependent clauses.  Here are some examples of simple sentences:

More on independent clauses

Complex sentence:

 A complex sentence has one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.  Here are some examples of complex sentences:

Notice that this last sentence begins with a dependent clause (Because my alarm did not go off this morning,) followed by an independent clause (I was late to work.)  The sentence can also be rewritten to begin with the independent clause, followed by the dependent clause: I was late to work this morning because my alarm did not go off this morning.

More on dependent clauses

Compound sentence: 

A compound sentence has two or more independent clauses but does not contain any dependent clauses.  Here are some examples of compound sentences:

Complex–compound sentence: 

A complex–compound sentence has two or more independent clauses and also contains one or more dependent clauses.  Here are some examples of complex–compound sentences.

In the end, it is important to understand all of the different types of sentences that can be constructed and to utilize them when appropriate.  Good writing incorporates a variety of sentences, particularly sentences of different lengths.  Remember that as the writer you are in control of the length of your sentences and can intentionally create shorter or longer sentences as needed in any essay.