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Types of sentences

Sentences can be simple or composite from the point of view of their structure. The simple sentence contains only one subject-predicate unit, the composite sentence more than one.

She really liked him (one subject-predicate unit).

The track was silent now, and sunset cast long shadows onto the field (two subject-predicate units).

The composite sentence is a sentence consisting of two or more clauses. In its structure a clause is similar to a simple sentence, but unlike a simple sentence it forms part of a bigger syntactical unit. Composite sentences can be compound and complex. The difference between them lies in the relations between the clauses that constitute them. Within a composite sentence clauses may be joined by means of coordination or subordination, thus forming a compound or a complex sentence respectively.

Coordination is a way of linking grammatical elements to make them equal in rank.

I travel with a limited wardrobe, but I always carry one dress for special occasions.

Subordination is a way of linking grammatical elements that makes one of them dependent upon the other.

When I joined him at the buffet, I had a plan.

A clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb.

I was beginning to dress like the Statue of Liberty.

Note: some of the groups of the words are clauses; some are not. Remember that a clause is a group of words with a subject and a predicate.

In written English, there are 2 kinds of clauses:

1) Independent clauses (IC);

2) Dependent clauses (DC).

A compound sentence consists of two or more clauses of equal rank which form one syntactical whole in meaning and intonation. Clauses that are parts of a compound sentence are joined by coordination and are called independent (or coordinate) clauses.

Independent clauses may be linked together with or without a connector.

I raced to the door, but it was too late.

Their children slept, their gate was shut for the night.

In a complex sentence with a minimal composition of two clauses, one is the basic element (independent clause) whereas the other is a constituent or part of the first (dependent clause).

If you are in Germany, the bus driver will be Asian.

If you are in Spain, the driver will be Russian.

If you are touring France with a French driver, you are on the wrong bus.

Independent clauses

An independent clause is a group of words with a subject and a predicate that can stand by itself. It is complete. It is a strong clause.

I looked in the mirror.

He was right.

I love this place.

Each of these sentences is one independent clause. Each is a complete simple sentence. However, many sentences in English contain more than one independent clause.

There are two ways to combine (join) independent clauses in written English. The first way is to join the clauses with a comma, the second way is to join them with a semi-colon.

If you join two independent clauses with a comma, you can also use coordinate conjunctions. These coordinate conjunctions signal the relationship between the IC-s:

1. If the second IC gives the reader additional information, use a comma plus and.

2. If the second IC gives the reader contrasting information, use a comma plus but.

3. If the first IC is a cause, and the second IC gives the reader an effect, use so.

You can also use such coordinate conjunctions as or, nor, for, yet in a compound sentence, or no conjunction at all.


IC, and IC

IC, but IC

IC, so IC

IC, or IC

IC, for IC

IC, yet IC

IC, nor IC

When each independent clause contains only a few words, professional writers sometimes omit the comma before the coordinating conjunctions.

My husband gave him five dollars and his vision improved.

Another way to combine IC-s is to use a semi-colon.

The semicolon is not simply an alternative to the full stop, colon, or comma. With it a writer can signal special relationships between independent clauses, and can increase the readability of long sentences that contain several commas.

If the ideas in two IC-s are related, they may be joined by a semi-colon: IC; IC.

If you use a semi-colon to join two IC-s, you may use such conjunctive adverbs as moreover, furthermore, however, therefore, consequently etc.:

IC; moreover, IC

IC; furthermore, IC

IC; however, IC

IC; therefore, IC

IC; consequently, IC

The use of these conjunctive adverbs is optional; use them if you think they make the sentence clearer. Notice that they come after the semi-colon and they are followed by a comma. These conjunctive adverbs signal the relationship between the IC-s.

1. If the second IC gives additional information to the reader, you may use “moreover” or “furthermore”.

2. If the second IC gives contrasting information to the reader, you may use “however”.

  1. If the first IC is a cause, and the second IC gives an effect to the reader, you may use “therefore” or “consequently”.

Exercise 17. Punctuate the following sentences.

  1. I was dressing for a concert so this dialogue would shortly come to a close.

  2. She took my arm and we walked along the river.

  3. He was half Arab and few people could tell you which influence most ruled his heart.

  4. Paul Rashid told his brothers what he intended to do but he’d purposely excluded Kate.

  5. He nodded to his brothers and they all rose.

  6. The student parking lot behind school was almost full so Lacey knew she was late.

  7. Not long afterward he smelled bacon and she came into the wheelhouse with a thermos flask of tea and three sandwiches.

  8. That’s a problem but I have a solution.

  9. Jenny was getting up and down to serve so she was not involved with most of this.

10. The well-bred English voice sliced through the quiet like a knife and

the men at the window continued to stare.

11. He wants to see us together so I agreed to have it over with.

12. This morning the sky was cloudless and brilliantly blue and the May

sun was comfortably warm.

13. Jess was cute but Vaughn was handsome tall and muscular.

14. He’ll be writing music in America and I’ll be working at singing in

Munich so when we get together again there’ll be nothing we can’t do.

Exercise 18. Punctuate the sentences using semicolons and commas.

  1. I was not taking Jenny to this concert I was watching her in it.

  2. She felt sorry for him now he looked so sheepish.

  3. At the house even the cook and the housekeeper come in on a daily basis they live in town.

  4. A troupe of fifty more swarmed after the first bicycle racers strung out over two hundred yards a few were smiling and self-conscious a few obviously exhausted most of them indifferent and weary.

  5. Nicole kept in touch with Dick after her new marriage there were letters on business matters and about the children.

  6. Dick was furious – Miss Warren had known he had a bicycle with him yet she had so phrased her note that it was impossible to refuse.

Dependent clauses

In written English, a dependent clause (DC) is a group of words with a subject and a predicate that cannot stand by itself. It is a weak clause. In other words, a DC is not a complete sentence.

When we arrived home

Even though the policeman didn’t give him a ticket

Certain words in English can change an IC to a DC. These words are called subordinating words because they make a strong clause weak.






Even though





A dependent clause must be combined with an independent clause in order to make a complete sentence. Notice that a DC can be either the first or second clause:



If the DC is the first clause, separate the clauses with a comma.

If the DC is the second clause, no punctuation between the clauses is needed.

When you combine a DC and an IC, the subordinating words identify a relationship between the DC and the IC.

  1. If the DC gives additional information to the reader, use time words like when, while, before, after, or until. Or, if you are qualifying the information, use if.

  2. If the DC gives contrasting information to the reader, use although or even though.

  3. If the DC gives a cause, and the IC gives an effect, use because or since.

Another way to make a dependent clause and to combine sentences is to use relative pronouns:

who (for people)

that (for people and things)

which (for things)

He drove the car that crashed into the bridge.

Pele was a great soccer player who scored hundreds of goals.

The clauses formed by using who, that and which are dependent clauses (that is, they are not complete sentences).

The relative pronoun replaces a noun as the subject of the clause.

Exercise 19. Punctuate the following sentences.

    1. If you’re not good enough for my brother and his wife then his daughter isn’t good enough for you.

    2. I guess it’s fairly impressive when you see it for the first time.

    3. When she was very young her mother was killed in a car crash.

    4. As we warmed up on the ice I didn’t wave to her.

    5. It’s fun to see if the computer is smart enough to replicate the real world.

    6. We’ll know for sure when the pictures are developed.

    7. Honey if all authors wrote like Churchill you’d be unemployed.

    8. Though his French was reasonably fluent Bob had prepared some remarks in advance.

    9. The lighting would be terrific early in the morning when the sun’s coming up.

10. When he returned from ferrying the girls she still was seated at the

kitchen table staring at her own reflection in a coffee cup.

11. And I’ll give you a tune on the piano while you’re waiting for your

man to turn up.

12. As they walked back to the porch it started to rain.

Exercise 20. Read the following text and insert correct punctuation. The numbers and kinds of errors are listed below the paragraph.

the many seasons in turkey

if you go to turkey you can see three seasons at the same time/ if you go to eastern turkey you will see that the weather is very cold/ it is dark because the sun does not shine/ there are not any leaves and the roads are icy/ people ski but a lot of people also get sick because of the cold weather/ snow covers the entire area and the people are not happy/ but if you go to western turkey you will see spring/ there are flowers green grass fruit and sunshine/ western turkey is a very good area/ a lot of people live there/ you will also see a lot of tourists/ if you go to south turkey you will see the summer season/ there is sunlight and you will see flowers fruits green grass and the sea/ a lot of men take sun baths because the sea is very cool/ there are many crops and products like fruits and vegetables for sale/

Capitals: 27

Commas: 14

Full stops: 15

Exercise 21. Complete the sentences with relative pronouns who, whose and which.

  1. The landlady, … was polishing glasses, looked up and greeted Paul.

  2. Paul led the way across the road to the parish church … dated from the twelfth century.

  3. Lacey pulled it out of her wallet and handed it to the sheriff, … retreated to his patrol car to fill out the summons.

  4. I looked at Jenny, … had obviously failed to cover this crucial topic in her phone conversation.

  5. He checked it with Harry Rex, … was at the office, where he usually spent the weekends.

  6. He hadn’t switched off the flashing lights of his patrol car, … was parked right in front of her.

  7. Lacey was very pleased with her scheme, … had the additional advantage of making Vaughn Cutter jealous.

  8. Denise, … goal was to be a big-city newspaper reporter and … prided herself on knowing ‘all the facts’, was mystified.

Exercise 22. Read the independent clauses below. Make the underlined IC into a DC with who, that, or which. Then combine the two clauses.

F.e. Mr Brown was my arts teacher. He told us a lot of interesting things.

Mr Brown, who was my arts teacher, told us a lot of interesting things.

  1. Renee had no tissue. She wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her blue polo shirt.

  2. Kiki didn’t think Mr Pinkerton cared whether she lived or died. She continued to hesitate.

  3. William Shannon is a qualified hairdresser. He took me to his salon.

  4. William showed me his certificate. It was on the wall.

  5. It’ll be a little secret. I won’t share it with anyone.

  6. I was looking at the walls. They were covered with photos of clients.

  7. St Petersburg is sometimes called the ‘Paris of the north’. It is going to be renovated.

  8. I’ve read a leaflet. It said body piercing was dangerous.

Exercise 23. Punctuate the sentences (for checking in class).

  1. they were suddenly interrupted by an insistent american of sinister aspect vending copies of the herald and of the times fresh from new york

  2. but her mother was american and she was brought up in chicago and she was more american than european

  3. actually professor i prefer to speak to you in person

  4. after a lawyers meeting the following morning the two of them drove down to dauncey place

  5. when she was gone he used her coded mobile phone to reach ferguson

  6. he was well into gershwin melody when kate rashid appeared

  7. my father pretended to look embarrassed and my mother seemed to be waiting for me to bow down or something

  8. for starters she could paint anything landscapes portraits still lifes

  9. for years he d been a member of the irish national liberation army a very extremist organisation

10. when blake went into the lounge a little while later the president was

drinking coffee a frown on his face

11. besides yesterday was my birthday I was eighteen

12. but thoughts of her principal faded as she digested the news he d given

her which she had no intention of keeping secret

13.there were three men sitting in the windowseat eating breakfast one was

middle aged with a beard the other two were younger

14. he was gorgeous and he drove a harley davidson motorcycle

Exercise 24. Read the following text. In most lines there are punctuation mistakes. For each line show correct punctuation or put a tick (√) if a sentence is correct. The exercise begins with two examples (0) and (00).

























HALLOWING is the scariest holiday of

the year especially at my house. I live in

sheer terror from the first week of

October of my young daughter asking for

a homemade costume. Ghosts ghouls, and

goblins dont strike fear into my heart as

much as the electric torture device known

as ‘The Sewing Machine.’ The last time I

saw mine it was holding up the back end

of my husbands’ car while he changed the tire.

‘I want you to make me into Cinderella’,

my daughter announced on schedule ‘at the ball.’

‘How about a ghost?,’ I pleaded. ‘Or

something else with one seam?

‘Cinderella, she insisted, ‘with lace, puffy

sleeves, and lots of jewels!’

I silently cursed the other mothers on the

block who diligently sewed their childrens’

costumes each year They could make ten

Cinderellas and a fairy godmother in the

time it took me to tie my shoe. Throughout

October the street was filled with the hum

of sewing machines coming from every

direction mine was silent …


year, especially











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