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The 4 Sentence Types in English Writing

Clauses of different types can combine to form the four types of sentences in English writing. Good writers use a variety of sentence types at varying lengths to make their writing more interesting and dynamic. Remember to use proper punctuation and a variety of connectors to make logical connections both within and between sentences.

1. A simple sentence is composed of a single independent clause and no dependent clauses.
We had a great visit to Paris and Berlin last September.

2. A compound sentence is composed of two or more independent clauses which may be connected by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet), a semicolon alone, or a semicolon and a conjunctive adverb (also called transition).
We visited Paris last September, but my sister visited Berlin last summer.

Most people enjoy visiting European cities; few do not.

Most people enjoy visiting European cities; however, few do not.

3. A complex sentence is composed of one independent clause (the main clause) and one or more dependent clauses. In the following examples, the independent clause is in bold.
While we were walking through the Louvre, we suddenly met our neighbor John and his family.
[dependent adverb clause starting with while; independent clause starting with we]

While we were walking through the Louvre, which is one of the most famous museums in the world, we suddenly met our neighbor John and his family, who were also on vacation in Paris.
[dependent adverb clause starting with while; dependent adjective clause starting with which; independent clause starting with we; dependent adjective clause starting with who]

4. A compound-complex sentence combines a compound sentence with a complex sentence. It contains two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. In the following examples, the independent clause is in bold.

While we were walking through the Louvre, which is one of the most famous museums in the world, we suddenly met our neighbor John with his family, and all of us went out for lunch at a splendid bistro.
[dependent adverb clause starting with while; independent clause starting with we; independent clause starting with all of us]

While we were walking through the Louvre, we suddenly met our neighbor John with his family, and all of us went out for lunch at a splendid bistro, located in a narrow street on the smaller island in the river Seine.
[dependent adverb clause starting with while; independent clause starting with we; independent clause starting with all of us; dependent elliptical adjective clause starting with located]

*Pay attention!
1. Remember to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction which connects two independent clauses.
2. Use semicolons between independent clauses which themselves contain commas or are very long.

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