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Simple Sentence

Simple Sentence

We all know what sentences are, but do you know the different types of sentence structures and how to form them?

There are four different types of sentences in English; simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences. This explanation is all about simple sentences.

Keep reading to find out more (p.s that's a simple sentence!)

Simple sentence meaning

A simple sentence is, as the name suggests, the simplest type of sentence. It has a straightforward structure and consists of only one independent clause. You use simple sentences when you want to give direct and clear information. Simple sentences communicate things clearly because they make sense independently and don't have any additional information.

Clauses are the building blocks of sentences. There are two types of clauses: independent and dependent clauses. Independent clauses work on their own, and dependent clauses rely on other parts of the sentence. Every clause, independent or dependent, must contain a subject and a verb.

Simple sentence structure

Simple sentences only contain one independent clause, and this independent clause must have a subject and a verb. Simple sentences can also include an object and/or a modifier, but these aren't necessary.

A simple sentence can contain multiple subjects or multiple verbs and still be a simple sentence as long as another clause is not added. If a new clause is added, the sentence is no longer considered a simple sentence.

Simple sentence: Tom, Amy, and James were running together. Not a Simple Sentence: Tom, Amy, and James were running together when Amy sprained her ankle and Tom carried her home.

When a sentence contains more than one independent clause, it is considered a compound sentence. When it contains an independent clause with a dependent clause, it is regarded as a complex sentence.

Simple sentence examples

Here are some examples of simple sentences. The subject and verb have been highlighted:

  • John waited for the taxi.

  • Ice melts at zero degrees celsius.

  • I drink tea every morning.

  • The children are walking to school.

  • The dog stretched.

Did you notice how each example sentence only gives us one piece of information? No extra information has been added to the sentences using extra clauses.

Now that we've seen some examples of simple sentences, let's look at a piece of text where simple sentences are used frequently. Remember, in imperative sentences, the subject is implied. So, the sentence 'Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius' actually reads as '(You) heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius'.

Take a look; can you spot all the simple sentences?

Cooking Instructions:

Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Start by weighing the flour. Now sieve the flour into a large bowl. Measure out the sugar. Mix together the flour and sugar. Create a dip in the dry ingredients and add the eggs and melted butter. Now mix all the ingredients together. Whisk the mixture until fully combined. Pour the mixture into a cake tin. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Let it cool before serving.

Below, we can see how many simple sentences there are in this text:

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Start by weighing the flour.
  3. Now sieve the flour into a large bowl.
  4. Measure out the sugar.
  5. Mix together the flour and sugar.
  6. Now mix all the ingredients together.
  7. Whisk the mixture until fully combined.
  8. Pour the mixture into a cake tin.
  9. Cook for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Let it cool before serving.

You can see that the majority of sentences in this text are simple. Instructions are a great example of when simple sentences can be helpful, as shown in the example above. Simple sentences are direct and clear - perfect for giving informative instructions that are easy to understand.

Simple sentence Image of cake mixture StudySmarterFig 1. Simple sentences are great for giving instructions

Let's think a bit more about why we use simple sentences, both in writing and in spoken language.

Types of simple sentences

There are three different types of simple sentences; single subject and verb, compound verb, and compound subject. The type of sentence it is depends on the number of verbs and subjects the sentence contains.

Single subject and verb simple sentences

As the name suggests, single subject and verb simple sentences contain only one subject and one verb. They are the most basic form of a sentence.

  • The cat jumped.
  • The black dress looks nice.
  • You must try.

Compound verb simple sentences

Compound verb simple sentences contain more than one verb within a single clause.

  • She jumped and shouted with joy.
  • They walked and talked the whole way home.
  • He bent down and picked up the kitten.

Compound subject simple sentences

Compound subject simple sentences contain more than one subject within a single clause.

  • Harry and Beth went shopping.
  • The class and the teacher visited the museum.
  • Batman and Robin saved the day.

When to use simple sentences

We use simple sentences all the time in both spoken and written language. Simple sentences are used when we want to give a piece of information, give instructions or demands, talk about a single event, make an impact in our writing, or when speaking to someone whose first language is not the same as our own.

In a more complex text, simple sentences should be balanced out with other sentence types, as a text would be considered boring if it only contained simple sentences. This is the same with every sentence type - no one would want to read something where all the sentences are of a similar structure and length!

How to identify simple sentences

We use clauses to identify a type of sentence. In this case, simple sentences contain only one independent clause. These sentences are usually quite short and do not contain additional information.

Other types of sentences contain a different amount of independent and dependent clauses:

We can therefore identify each sentence type by deciding whether a dependent clause is used and by looking at the number of independent clauses that the sentence contains. But remember, when it comes to simple sentences, we are only looking for a single independent clause!

The dog sat down.

This is a simple sentence. We know this as we can see there is one independent clause that contains a subject and a verb. The short length of the sentence further indicates that it is a simple sentence.

Jennifer decided she wanted to start scuba diving.

This is also a simple sentence, even though the clause is longer. Because the length of sentences varies, we rely on the type of clause to identify different types of sentences.

Simple sentence Image of scuba diver StudySmarterFig 2. Jennifer wanted to scuba dive

Simple Sentence - Key takeaways

  • A simple sentence is a type of sentence. The four types of sentences are simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences.

  • Simple sentences are formed using an independent clause. Clauses are the building blocks for sentences, and independent clauses work on their own.

  • Simple sentences are direct, easy to understand, and clear about their information.

  • Simple sentences must contain a subject and a verb. They can optionally also have an object and/or a modifier.

Frequently Asked Questions about Simple Sentence

A simple sentence is one of the four sentence types. It contains a subject and a verb and is made from just one independent clause.

Here is an example of a simple sentence, Janie has started dance class. Janie is the subject of this sentence, and started is the verb. The whole sentence is a singular independent clause.

Simple sentences have three different types. A ‘normal’ simple sentence contains one subject and one verb; a compound subject simple sentence contains multiple subjects and one verb; a compound verb simple sentence contains multiple verbs.

Simple sentences are formed from just one independent clause. If you were to use this clause and add additional information in the form of a dependent clause, this would become the structure of a complex sentence.

A simple sentence in English grammar contains a subject and a verb, can contain an object and/or a modifier, it is made of one independent clause.

Final Simple Sentence Quiz

Question

What are the four types of sentences?

Show answer

Answer

Simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex.

Show question

Question

How many clauses are there in a simple sentence?

Show answer

Answer

One independent clause.

Show question

Question

True or false: Independent clauses rely on others.


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Answer

False.

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Question

Which of the following is a simple sentence?

  1. Joey and Samantha went to the gym. 

  2. Joey and Samantha went to the gym but they left early.

Show answer

Answer

a. Joey and Samantha went to the gym. 

Show question

Question

What are the two types of clauses?

Show answer

Answer

Independent and dependent.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is optional in a simple sentence?

  1. Subject

  2. Modifier

  3. Verb

Show answer

Answer

b. Modifier

Show question

Question

What do you call a simple sentence with multiple subjects?


Show answer

Answer

Compound subject simple sentence.

Show question

Question

What do you call a simple sentence with multiple verbs?


Show answer

Answer

Compound verb simple sentence.

Show question

Question

True or false: Simple sentences are direct and easily understandable.


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Answer

True.

Show question

Question

True or false: Simple sentences describe things in a complicated way.


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Answer

False.

Show question

Question

Are simple sentences a basic sentence type?


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Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

Which word is the subject of this sentence: The cat jumped up.


Show answer

Answer

Cat.

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Question

Which word is the verb of this sentence: The boy raced across the finishing line.


Show answer

Answer

Raced.

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Question

How many subjects are there in this sentence? Amy, Paul, and Wendy went to the show.


Show answer

Answer

​Three.

Show question

Question

Do simple sentences always contain a single clause?

Show answer

Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

A clause must contain what?

Show answer

Answer

A subject and a verb

Show question

Question

What does a compound verb simple sentence contain?

Show answer

Answer

Two or more verbs within a single clause.

Show question

Question

True or false, simple sentences contain an independent clause and a dependent clause?

Show answer

Answer

False. They only contain an independent clause.

Show question

Question

How can you turn a simple sentence into a complex sentence?

Show answer

Answer

By adding a dependent clause.

Show question

Question

How can you turn a simple sentence into a compound sentence?


Show answer

Answer

By adding another independent clause.

Show question

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