Writing is made up of sentences. Effective writing consists of different types of sentences put in different paragraphs to bring out the ideas of the writer. There are different types of sentences serving different functions.
The simple sentence
The simple sentence is made up of a subject and a predicate (a verb, or a verb + noun/adjective/adverb/preposition etc. to complete the sentence).
e.g. The woman went to Mexico.
e.g. Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States.
Identifying the subject and the predicate helps you in subject-predicate agreement.
e.g. Drinking a glass of warm milk and taking a hot bath help me sleep better. (NOT helps)
e.g. Every house in the neighborhood has been searched. (NOT have)
e.g. Each of the students was given an assignment to do over the weekend. (NOT were)
The simple sentence (usually short) is used to make a statement, or to emphasize an idea.
However, overuse of short simple sentences may result in choppy sentences, showing lack of unity.
e.g. It was a beautiful day. The sun was warm. We wanted to go for a walk. We decided to go to the lake. (choppy)
e.g. It was a warm and beautiful day, and we decided to go to the lake for a walk. (improved)
The compound sentence
The compound sentence is made up two or more simple sentences joined together by a coordinating conjunction (and, or, nor, but, for, so, yet), or a punctuation mark (colon, semicolon).
e.g. The man took the money, and (he) ran away.
e.g. You finish this work, or you don’t get paid!
e.g. I don’t want to go, nor will I.
e.g. He was poor, but he was happy.
e.g. We were thirsty, for the weather was hot.
e.g. He worked hard so he passed his test.
e.g. The boy practiced very hard, yet he did not make the swim team.
The compound sentence is used to show relationship, sequence, or importance of ideas in a sentence.
The complex sentence
The complex sentence is made up two or more simple sentences joined together by a subordinating conjunction (after, before, since, when, although).
e.g. After the man took the money, he ran away.
The emphasis is more on he ran away than on the man took the money; the complex sentence here not only shows the sequence of the action but also focuses on he ran away “after” taking the money.
Compare: “The man took the money, and (he) ran away.” In this compound sentence, the emphasis is on the man took the money as well as (he) ran away.
e.g. Before the postman came, the woman had already finished writing the letter.
e.g. When the postman came, the woman gave him the letter.
It is important that you construct different types of sentences to express your ideas.
Stephen LauCopyright© by Stephen Lau