Sentence structures you should know

A sentence starts with a capital letter, contains one or more main verbs, and ends with a full stop, question mark or an exclamation mark.

  1. I saw him walking on the bridge.
  2. Can I have a cup of coffee?
  3. Keep quiet and do your job!
  4. Move!

Note: 4 is considered a complete sentence in a situation where the person it is directed to understands the command.

We have simple, complex, compound and compound-complex sentences.


A simple sentence is an independent clause with just a single statement or thought.


  1. I talked to Mr Jupaski yesterday.
  2. He is such a lovely and intelligent child.


A complex sentence contains a main (independent) clause and one or more subordinate (dependent) clauses.


  1. Having been interrogated by the detective, the suspect refused to talk to anyone else.
  2. While we stood there, he killed the dog that barked at him.


A compound sentence is like a compound with two or more buildings that are of equal status. They’re all independent and can stand alone, but come together to form a compound.

These main (independent) clauses are usually joined with conjunctions such as and, or, but.


  1. Raymond talked to Shay (independent) and(conjunction) I talked to Ricky(independent).
  2. We can go (independent) or (conjunction) we can stay (independent) but (conjunction) we can just forget the whole idea (independent).
  3. You know the capital of Ghana (independent) but (conjunction) you need to convince us you really know about that country (independent) or (conjunction) you can just tell us the truth (independent).


A compound-complex sentence combines a compound sentence and a complex sentence, i.e. it has at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent (subordinate) clause.


  1. While we prepare for the competition (dependent), we can go to the beach (independent) or (conjunction) we can visit the museum.
  2. This is the man whose child was bullied (independent) but (conjunction) since he did not press charges (dependent) the principal has taken it on himself to deal with the perpetrators (independent) while we all wait for the outcome (dependent).


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