English Sentences are broadly categorized into 5 types. Each type has a particular semantic and syntactic structure which helps for analysis of sentences at syntactic level.
This article is Part 2 in a 3-Part Series.
Table of Content
- English Sentence Types
- Complex Sentence
- Function of subordinate conjunction
- Pattern of complex sentence using subordinate clause
- Subordinate Clause begins with a relative pronoun
- Type of Complex Sentences
- Complex sentence with Adjective clause (Relative clause)
- Complex sentence with Noun clause
- Complex sentence with Adverb clause
- Compound-Complex Sentence
Semantic and Syntactic analysis of sentences can generate lot of useful information. Knowing the sentence types their internal sub-types can help in creating natural language processing modules.
Sentences can be many types. Based on their syntactic parse tree structure we can deduce a lot of information about them.
Here we will discuss the grammatical sentence types and the information associated with them.
English Sentence Types
English Sentences can be broadly categorized into 5 types. Each type has a particular semantic and syntactic structure which helps for analysis of sentences at syntactic level.
|Simple||A simple sentence, also called an independent clause, contains a subject and a verb, and it expresses a complete thought.||1. Some students like to study in the mornings. 2. Juan and Arturo play football every afternoon. 3. Alicia goes to the library and studies every day.|
|Compound||The compound sentence contains two or more independent clauses but no subordinate clauses.||1. I don’t know where he went, and no one has seen him since this afternoon. 2. Harold the First fought in Northern Ireland; his campaigns generally were successful. 3. The Japanese have the longest life expectancy of any other people, for their diet is extremely healthful.|
|Complex||A complex sentence contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clause. In a complex sentence, one idea is generally more important than the other one. The more important idea is placed in the independent clause, and the less important idea is placed in the dependent clause.||1) If you are not good at figures, it is pointless to apply for a job in a bank. 2) When he saw the door open, the stranger entered the house. 3) Holiday resorts which are very crowded are not very pleasant.|
|Compound Complex||A compound-complex sentence is a combination of two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. It is like a family of two adults and one or more children.||1) After I finished high school, I wanted to go to university, but I had to work in my family’s business. 2) The word root multi, which means many, comes from Latin, and the word root poly, which also means many, comes from Greek. 3) When the power line snapped, Jack was listening to the radio, and Linda was reading in bed.|
|Fragment||Sentence fragments are group of words that don’t express complete thoughts. They are only fragments of sentences.||1. My hat is on the table. 2. The dog ran over there. 3. I’ll call you if I walk home.|
A simple sentence, also called an independent clause, contains a subject and a verb, and it expresses a complete thought.
1. Some students like to study in the mornings.
2. Juan and Arturo play football every afternoon.
3. Alicia goes to the library and studies every day.
The three examples above are all simple sentences. Please note that sentence 2 contains a compound subject, and sentence 3 contains a compound verb. Simple sentences, therefore, contain a subject and verb and express a complete thought, but they can also contain compound subjects or verbs.
The compound sentence contains two or more independent clauses but no subordinate clauses. The two independent clauses are joined by a comma (,) followed by a conjunction (for, and, nor, but…). They may also be joined by a semicolon (;), a semicolon followed by a linking adverb (therefore, however, because, since…), or a colon (:).
- I don’t know where he went, and no one has seen him since this afternoon. (conjunction)
- Harold the First fought in Northern Ireland; his campaigns generally were successful. (semicolon)
- Vivian wanted to stay another week in Ashville; however, her parents refused to send her more money. (linking adverb)
- You must have heard the news: we’re all getting bonuses this year! (colon)
Coordinator words used in Compound sentences :
For, And , Nor, But, Or, Yet, So. First letters spell: FANBOYS
Types of Compound Sentences
There are 3 types of compound sentences :
Compound sentence with Coordinator
The two independent clauses are joined by a comma and one of the seven coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. You can remember the coordinating conjunctions by remembering the word FANBOYS. The following sentences illustrate their meanings.
Independent Clause + , + Coordinators + Independent Clause
- The Japanese have the longest life expectancy of any other people, for their diet is extremely healthful. (for expresses reason)
- The Japanese consume a lot of rice, and they eat more fish than red meat. (and expresses equal related ideas)
Many Americans, on the other hand, do not eat a healthy diet, nor do they get enough exercise. (nor joins two equal negative independent clauses)
In the last twenty years, Americans have reduced their smoking, but Europeans seem to be smoking more than ever. (but expresses contrasting ideas)
- Europeans should change their smoking habits, or they will risk developing lung cancer. (or expresses alternatives or possibilities)
- Many Japanese men smoke, yet the Japanese have long life expectancies. (yet expresses an unexpected contrast)
- The Japanese diet is becoming more westernized, so their life expectancy will probably decrease in the future. (so expresses results)
Compound Sentences with Linking Adverbs (Conjunctive Adverbs)
The two independent clauses are joined by a semicolon (;), a conjunctive adverb and a comma. Just like the FANBOYS coordinators, conjunctive adverbs express the relationship of the second clause to the first clause.
Independent Clause; + Conjunctive Adverb, + Independent Clause
Coordinators and Conjunctive adverbs
|Coordinating Conjunctions||Conunctive Adverbs||Meaning|
|And||Furthermore, besides, moreover, also||Additional idea|
|But, yet||However, nonetheless, nevertheless, still||Opposite idea|
|So||Consequently, thus, therefore, hence, accordingly||result|
- Junior colleges offer preparation for the professions, business, and industry; moreover, they prepare students to transfer to a four-year college or university. (equal related ideas)
- Many junior colleges do not provide dormitories; however, they provide housing referral services. (opposite ideas)
- Students must take the final exam; otherwise, they will receive a grade of Incomplete. (“or else”)
- Native and non-native English speakers have different needs; therefore, most schools provide separate English classes for each group. (results)
Compound sentences with Semi colon
Independent Clause + ; + Independent Clause
- My older brother studies laws; my younger brother studies medicine.
- The Berlin Wall’s construction in 1961 surprised the world; its destruction in 1989 stunned it.
- Poland was the first Eastern block country to turn away from communism; others soon followed.
A complex sentence contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clause. In a complex sentence, one idea is generally more important than the other one. The more important idea is placed in the independent clause, and the less important idea is placed in the dependent clause.
- Independent Clause + Dependent Clause
- Dependent Clause + , + Independent Clause
Presence of Subordinate Conjunction
Complex sentences have two clauses, one main [or independent] and one subordinate [or dependent].
The essential ingredient in a complex sentence is the subordinate conjunction. Below is the list of subordinate words
The subordination in a complex sentence can be done with:
• Noun Clause
• Adverb Clause
• Adjective Clause
Function of subordinate conjunction
- It provides a necessary transition between the two ideas in the sentence.
- This transition will indicate a time, place, or cause and effect relationship.
- The second job of the subordinate conjunction is to reduce the importance of one clause so that a reader understands which of the two ideas is more important.
- The more important idea belongs in the main clause, the less important in the clause introduced by the subordinate conjunction.
- As Samson blew out the birthday candles atop the cake, he burned the tip of his nose on a stubborn flame.
- Here: Burning his nose > blowing out candles.
- Ronnie begins to sneeze violently whenever he opens the door to greet a fresh spring day.
- Here: Sneezing violently > opening the door.
Pattern of complex sentence using subordinate clause
Complex sentences follow two common patterns:
- Main clause + Ø + Subordinate clause.
- Example: Nicky shook her head and sighed Ø as she puzzled over the algebra problem.
- Subordinate clause + ‘,’ + Main clause
Subordinate Clause begins with a relative pronoun
Examples of Relative pronouns are : who, which, where, when etc..
Depending on whether clause is essential or nonessential, there may or may not be a comma with subordinate clause.
Essential clauses are necessary to identify the person or thing that is being described. They are essential to understanding the sentence. They restrict the meaning to that specific person/thing.
- Nicky paid the deliveryman whose rusty hatchback choked and coughed in the driveway.
- Here, Deliveryman is a general noun. The relative clause “whose rusty hatchback choked and coughed in the driveway” clarifies the restaurant employee we mean. The clause is thus essential and requires no punctuation.
Non-essential clauses are not essential to the understanding of the sentence since they merely supply some additional information.
We have to use commas to main clause and nonessential relative clause.
• Main clause +, + nonessential relative clause.
Nicky paid Fernando, whose rusty hatchback choked and coughed in the driveway.
Type of Complex Sentences
There are 3 main type of complex sentences which are based on the type of subordinate clauses.
Complex sentence with Adjective clause (Relative clause)
An adjective clause or a relative clause is a dependent clause introduced by a relative pronoun or relative adverb. It functions as an adjective; that is, it modifies or describes a noun or pronoun in the independent clause.
An adjective clause—also called an adjectival or relative clause—will meet three requirements:
- First, it will contain a subject and verb.
- Next, it will begin with a relative pronoun [who, whom, whose, that, or which] or a relative adverb [when, where, or why]
- It will function as an adjective, answering the questions what kind? How many? Or Which one?
- Relative pronoun or adverb + subject + verb
- Relative pronoun as subject + verb
- Preposition + whom/which/(whose + noun) + subject + verb + complement (formal)
- Whom/which/(whose + noun) + subject + verb + complement + Preposition (informal)
Different type of Subordinates
A relative pronoun replaces a noun phrase or pronoun in the dependent clause. The relative pronouns are:
|Who||Refer only to people and is a subject pronoun|
|Whom||Refers only to people and is an object pronoun.|
|Which||Refers to things or animals and is a subject or object pronoun.|
|That||Refers to things, animals or people and is a subject or object pronoun in restrictive or defining clause only.|
|Whose + noun||Refers to things, animals or people and is a possessive.|
- Students who like study usually try hard to do research.
- Mr. Phearum married Ms Kanhchana whom I know very well.
- The car which I want to buy is available in Kampong Speu.
- These are the candidates that will compete on Christmas Day.
- I know the poor man whose son was killed last week.
A relative adverb replaces a prepositional phrase in the dependent clause. The relative adverbs are:
|Where||Refers to a place.|
|When||Refers to a time.|
|Why||Refers to a reason.|
- Diane felt manipulated by her beagle Santana,** whose big, brown eyes pleaded for another cookie**.
- Whose = relative pronoun; eyes = subject; pleaded = verb.
- Chewing with her mouth open is one reason why Fred cannot stand sitting across from his sister Melanie.
- Why = relative adverb; Fred = subject; can stand = verb [not, an adverb, is not officially part of the verb].
- Growling ferociously, Oreo and Skeeter, Madison’s two dogs, competed for the hardboiled egg that bounced across the kitchen floor.
- That = relative pronoun functioning as subject; bounced = verb.
- Laughter erupted from Annamarie, who hiccupped for seven hours afterward.
- Who = relative pronoun functioning as subject; hiccupped = verb.
Complex sentence with Noun clause
Noun clause is a dependent clause that functions as a noun. Therefore, it plays the role of a noun in the sentence. I.e. it can be a subject or an object. There are 3 types of Noun clause:
Subject + verb + that clause
- She said that she missed me.
- The problem is that no one answered the question.
Subject + verb + object (subordinator + subject + verb + …)
Who, when, what, where, why, how, whoever, whatever, wherever
- She wants to ask where I live.
- I want to know how we can meet each other.
Subject + verb + object (subordinator + subject + verb + …)
Whether (or not), if (or not)
- They ask whether I am happy or not.
- He wonders if she loves him or not.
Subjunctive Noun Clause
The verb in a dependent that-clause must be kept in the simple form after certain introductory clause verbs and adjectives indicating urgency and advisability.
|Urgency : demand move direct command insist urge order||Urgency : urgent important vital essential necessary|
|Advice : ask advice propose suggest recommend||Advice: advisable|
- I advice him that he go to school.
- I suggest that they be not lazy.
- It is essential that everyone try hard to study English.
- It is necessary that our country have to take actions on drug and corruption
Complex sentence with Adverb clause
An adverb clause will meet three requirements:
- First, it will contain a subject and verb.
- There is also a subordinate conjunction that keeps the clause from expressing a complete thought.
- Adverb clause answers one of these three adverb questions: How? When? or Why?
- Tommy scrubbed the bathroom tile until his arms ached.
- Josephine’s three cats bolted from the driveway once they saw her car turn the corner.
- After her appointment at the orthodontist, Danielle cooked eggs for dinner because she could easily chew an omelet.
Types of Adverbial Clauses
|Adverbial Clause Type||Words or Phrases|
|Manner||as if, as though, as|
|Time||when, whenever, anytime, before, after, till, until, while, since, just as, as soon as, as often as, now that, as long as|
|Cause/Reason||because, as, for, that|
|Place||where, as far as, as near as, wherever, anywhere|
|Condition||if, whether, if … not, unless, supposing that, provided that, in the condition that, as long as that|
|Purpose||so that, in order that,|
|Concession/ Contrast||though, however, even though, even if, although, so, in spite of the fact that, the fact that, despite that, whether or, granted that, whoever, whatever, whichever, no matter what, whereas, while|
|Degree||according to as, according to how|
|Means||by the fact that, by whatever means, by what means.|
|Comparison||small, fast, hard, slow, late|
A compound-complex sentence is a combination of two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. It is like a family of two adults and one or more children.
- After I finished high school, I wanted to go to university, but I had to work in my family’s business.
- The word root multi, which means many, comes from Latin, and the word root poly, which also means many, comes from Greek.
- When the power line snapped, Jack was listening to the radio, and Linda was reading in bed.