There are four different types of sentences: simple sentences, compound
sentences, complex sentences, and complex-compound sentences.
A simple sentence contains one independent clause and no dependent clauses. Here
are some examples of simple sentences:
He ran. (Notice that this is an example of the shortest sentence that can ever be written:
a one word subject and a one word predicate that is also a complete thought.)
- He ran fast.
- I was late to work.
- The ten-page research paper addresses the problem of binge drinking on college campuses.
More on independent clauses
A complex sentence has one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.
Here are some examples of complex sentences:
While most essays require a substantial time commitment, the argument essay, which
generally requires finding and utilizing different types of research, is usually
the most time consuming to create. (This sentence has two dependent clauses: While most essays require a substantial time commitment… and …which generally requires finding and utilizing different types of research…)
- Because my alarm did not go off this morning, I was late to work.
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
A compound sentence has two or more independent clauses but does not contain any
dependent clauses. Here are some examples of compound sentences:
- My teacher gave me some good advice for making my essay better, and the tutor also
looked it over and provided many suggestions.
- I had trouble finding sources for my essay, so I went to the writing center for help.
- Our class started later than it was supposed to, but the teacher made it interactive.
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.
- We went to the movie theatre last night and saw the new comedy, which just came out
last Friday, and then we went to dinner at the local steakhouse.
Because I have never written an argument essay for a college class before, I am worried
about my use of outside sources in this paper, so I hope that I cited everything
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.