Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12318
Unicorns may not be real, but the need to write well-crafted sentences is very real. How you combine words, clauses, and sentences makes a big difference in keeping your readers' interest. Write on!
Professional dancers learn a lot of moves that at first seem simple, but they compound them into beautiful, graceful, and complex performances. Good writing can achieve the same beauty.
Read this sentence; it will come in handy in this lesson:
Dancing across the top of the water, the ballerina felt light as a feather.
Your writing should flow smoothly like a river, each sentence blending naturally with the next.
This smooth flow is called sentence fluency. Sentence fluency is very important in any type of writing.
There are several ways to add fluency to your writing:
Before you continue, if you need to review the previous Related Lessons in our Expository Writing series, you'll find them in the right-hand sidebar.
Let's look at the different types of sentences so you can use them in your writing!
There are three basic types of sentences:
A simple sentence is a sentence that contains a subject, a predicate, and expresses a complete thought.
Example: Janet loves to sing.
Janet is the subject, loves is the predicate, and it is a complete thought.
The second type of sentence is a compound sentence.
A compound sentence is made up of two or more simple sentences joined by a comma and a coordinating conjunction. The comma comes at the end of the simple sentence and before the conjunction.
Example: Hot air balloons are huge, and the baskets can carry ten people.
The two separate parts in italics are the two simple sentences. The word and is the coordinating conjunction combining the two sentences into a compound sentence.
Notice that each section contains both a subject and a predicate, and each expresses a complete thought. These two sentences could be split into two separate sentences.
The third type of sentence is called a complex sentence.
A complex sentence is a bit more complicated than a simple or compound sentence. A complex sentence is a sentence that has one independent clause, and one or more dependent clauses.
An independent clause expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence.
A dependent clause does not express a complete thought and is not a stand-alone sentence.
Example: Dancing across the top of the water, the ballerina felt light as a feather.
The second part of the sentence, the ballerina felt light as a feather, is the independent clause. It contains the subject (ballerina), and the predicate (felt), and expresses a complete thought.
The first part of the sentence, Dancing across the top of the water, is a dependent clause; it does not express a complete thought.
Take out a piece of paper and a pencil. As you watch Simple, Compound and Complex Sentences, by Vicky Maxted, write down notes to explain how to change sentences from simple to compound or complex:
Remember, a simple sentence has a subject, a predicate, and expresses a complete thought.
A compound sentence is the combination of two simple sentences with a comma and a coordinating conjunction.
A complex sentence has one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. The dependent clause in a complex sentences does not express a complete thought and is missing either the subject or predicate.
Continue to the Got It? section where you will practice identifying these sentences and practice changing sentences into other types.