Different Types of Sentences

Variation of Sentence Types Video

Hi, and welcome to this Mometrix video over the variation of sentence types!

Before we start with the kinds of sentences in standard English, I want to make sure that you understand a couple of concepts.

Subject and Predicate

The first thing is that there are two key parts of a sentence: the subject and the predicate.

The complete subject of a sentence is made of the simple subject and all of its modifiers. You could say that the subject is the what or who of the sentence. Let’s start with an example:

The young, bright student memorized the capital of every state.


So, what or who is being talked about in this sentence? A student. And, the complete subject is “The young, bright student.”

The predicate is simply the remaining pieces once you have determined the subject of the sentence. Basically, the predicate provides information on the subject. Therefore, in our example, the predicate is “memorized the capital of every state.”

The other thing to keep in mind with understanding the four kinds of sentences is clauses.


An independent clause contains a subject and a verb while giving a complete thought. A dependent clause does not contain a complete thought. Instead, a dependent clause has a subject and a verb. Thus, an independent clause is needed for a sentence to be complete.

The young, bright student memorized the capital of every state as she
prepared for her exam.


You already know the answer to the independent clause since “The young, bright student memorized the capital of every state” expresses a complete thought with a subject and a predicate. Now, what comes after the independent clause is called a dependent clause.

If you were to take “as she prepared for her exam” by itself, you would not have a complete thought/sentence. Try saying it out loud: “As she prepared for her exam.” Is your curiosity triggered? Why is she preparing for an exam? How is she preparing? What kind of exam is it? When did she start? Or, when will she be finished?

These questions remain unanswered. The expression/thought/sentence cannot be completed. In other words, this is a dependent clause that needs an independent clause to complete the sentence.

Be sure to pause when the time comes to make your own example. A next step could be to make a commitment to read as often as you can by going through novels, news articles, and non-fiction pieces. With a disciplined approach to reading, you will improve not only your ability to recognize the kinds of sentences but also your ability to write more intriguing material.

While reading, you may not notice or even realize that one sentence is complex and another is compound, and the next is simple. If you have diagrammed sentences in grammar classes, then you are ahead of the game and will certainly notice each kind of sentence if you take the time. But outside of grammar class, many professionals are not required to diagram sentences. So, why do you need to understand the different kinds of sentences for now and for life-long learning?

Well, you may not be an English teacher. You may not be a professional writer. But understanding the different kinds of sentences is still important for everyday writing. When you write a kind note to family or friends or a desperate appeal to someone in authority, you need to control the style, pace, and diversity of your writing without distracting your audience and to make your work interesting.

You need to be careful about using only one or two kinds of sentence structure in your writing. If you were to use only simple sentences, then your writing would be considered elementary at best and mundane at worst. The following is an exaggerated example of overuse of simple sentence structure.

John finished dinner. He decided to wash his car. He chose to change the oil. He noticed that he needed to correct the tire pressure. He continued to work on his vehicle for another hour. The sun started to set. He remembered to check his brake lights. He debated on buying more gasoline. He was tired from a day at the office. He chose to sleep. He chose to refuel the car in the morning.


By the end of this video, I will ask you to use what you learn to improve this paragraph. So, let’s get started with the simple, and we will work our way to the compound-complex.

Simple Sentences

A simple sentence may or may not have compound elements (e.g., a compound subject), but what makes a simple sentence is that there is one independent clause with no dependent clauses.

Consider the following example:

Judy and Alan watered the lawn.


This simple sentence has a compound subject, because Judy and Alan worked together to water the lawn. A singular subject would have only one person caring for the lawn.

Take a moment to make your own example.

The writer arrived at the meeting ten minutes late.


The subject is writer. The verb is arrived. The predicate includes the verb and everything else. You have an independent clause because a complete thought is expressed. It is as simple as that.

Compound Sentences

Compound sentences are two simple sentences that are commonly connected with a coordinating conjunction (e.g., and, or, but, for, nor, so, yet). Therefore, as long as you have two or more independent clauses with no dependent clauses, you will have a compound sentence.

Consider this example:

The time has come, and we are ready.


The sentence begins with an independent clause. The subject is time, and the predicate is has come. After the coordinating conjunction, you have a second independent clause.

Take a moment to make your own example.

We waited over an hour for you; then we left the office for lunch.


Remember that you’re still working with only independent clauses. So, my example begins with the independent clause “We waited over an hour for you.” After the semicolon, the sentence ends with another independent clause: “then we left the office for lunch.” If two independent clauses in one sentence are not connected with a conjunction, then you can use a semicolon to separate them.

Complex Sentences

A complex sentence has one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.

Consider the following example:

Marcia got married after she finished college.


The independent clause comes at the beginning of this sentence with the subject Marcia and the predicate got married, making a complete sentence. The adverbial clause is dependent on the independent clause. “After she finished college” does not express a complete thought. If more information were not provided, readers would be left to ask: “What happened to this person after finishing college?”

Take a moment to make your own example.

Before we start, I need you to update the computer’s software.


The sentence begins with an adverbial clause that is dependent on the following independent clause. It does not matter if the dependent clause is a noun, adjective, or adverbial clause. As long as your sentence has at least one dependent clause and only one independent clause, then you will have a complex sentence.

Compound-Complex Sentences

A compound-complex sentence has at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.

Consider the following example:

John is my friend who went to India, and he brought back souvenirs for us.


This structure is simply a combination of the previous two sentence structures. Like a compound sentence, you need two independent clauses. And just like a complex sentence, you need one or more dependent clauses.

In our example, “John is my friend” is the first independent clause. The second independent clause is “he brought back for us.” Between these two independent clauses is an adjective clause (who went to India) that depends on the first independent clause.

Take a moment to make your own example.

Though our case seems decided, the judge may grant an extension, or she could make a decision today while we talk in her chamber.


For this compound-complex sentence, it may be helpful to separate this sentence at the conjunction or. Let’s start at the beginning. You have an adverbial clause in “Though our case seems decided,” and it depends on the independent clause “the judge may grant an extension.” To be a compound-complex sentence, we just need one more independent clause. However, what follows after the conjunction is an independent clause “she could make a decision today,” and this is followed by the adverbial clause “while we talk in her chamber” that is dependent on the independent clause “she could make a decision today.”

Now, you have the chance to revisit the example that I gave at the beginning of this video. Review the paragraph with the overuse of simple sentences, and take some liberty to improve the paragraph with compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences.

There can be other revisions that are correct as well. This is merely my revision.

Before John finished dinner, he decided to wash his car. When the car was clean, he decided to change the oil, and he noticed that he needed to correct the tire pressure. He continued to work on his vehicle for another hour. The sun started to set when he remembered to check his brake lights. Completing those projects, he debated if he should get more gasoline before going to bed. Since he was tired from a day’s work at the office, he chose to sleep and refuel the car in the morning.


Thank you so much for watching. See you next time!


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by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: July 20, 2023