Knowledge of Language - Sentence Structure
We visited the Eiffel Tower before it closed.

Knowledge of Language - Sentence Structure

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There are four basic sentence structures that every sentence will fall under. These are the (1) simple sentence, (2) the compound sentence, (3) the complex sentence and (4) the compound-complex sentence.

A simple sentence is made up of three parts – a subject (or clause), a verb and an object.

Example: The cat found a mouse.

The “cat” is the subject, “found” is the verb and, finally, “mouse” is the object.

A compound sentence is when you have two or more independent subjects (or clauses) that are usually joined or linked by a conjunction.

Example: Betty likes chocolate cake and Michael likes vanilla.

“Betty” and “Michael” are two independent subjects and they are linked by the conjunction “and”.

A complex sentence is when you link an independent clause with a dependent clause. An independent clause is the part of a sentence that could stand alone as a complete sentence. A dependant clause is the part of the sentence that if used alone, would not be a complete sentence.

Example: Peter left when his father arrived.

Let’s break this sentence down. “Peter left” is an independent clause because if removed from the complete sentence above, it would remain a sentence itself, i.e., “Peter left.” On the other hand, “when his father arrived” is a dependent clause. When removed from the complete sentence above, it cannot stand on its own as an independent, complete sentence. This makes this part of the sentence dependent upon “Peter left”.

A compound-complex sentence is a combination of the compound sentence having two or more independent subjects (or clauses) and the complex sentence where you have at least one independent clause and one dependent clause.

Example: He called the ticket agency and they found the seats which were okay.

“He” and “they” are two independent subjects and they are linked by the conjunction “and”. “He called the ticket agency and they found the seats,” is an independent clause. It can stand alone as a complete sentence. However, “which were okay” is the part of the sentence that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. It is dependent upon “He called the ticket agency and they found the seats.” We then have all of the elements to make this a compound-complex sentence.

1.
Choose the answer that tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

He left in June but I never saw him again with good reason.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
In this sentence we find two different subjects/clauses. They are “He left in June” and “I never saw him again.” The two subjects/clauses are separated by a conjunction “but”. This tells us we have a compound sentence. Now we need to see if it also contains a complex sentence that has an independent clause and a dependent clause. “He left in June but I never saw him again” is an independent clause and it can stand on its own as a complete sentence. However, “with good reason” is not a complete sentence. It is a dependent clause. We now know we have a compound-complex sentence so the answer is Answer (d).
2.
Choose the answer that tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

The bus was late this morning.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
The “bus” is the subject of the sentence. The word “late” is the verb. Finally, the word “morning” is the object. There or no conjunctions used, we do not have a second subject and there is no dependent clause. This is a simple statement sentence. The correct answer is Answers (a).
3.
Choose the answer that tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

My birthday is in April and my sister’s birthday is in October.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
Looking at this sentence we can see that there are two subjects/clauses, i.e., “My birthday” and “my sister’s”. The two subjects are also linked by a conjunction “and”. This quickly tells us that we have a compound sentence. Now we need to determine if it is a compound-complex sentence. As there is no dependent clause needed to make it a compound-complex, we know the answer here is Answer (b).
4.
Choose the answer that tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

Addition was easy to learn but Algebra was rather difficult.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
Looking at this sentence we can see that there are two subjects/clauses, i.e., “Addition” and “Alegbra”. The two subjects are also linked by the conjunction “but”. This quickly tells us that we have a compound sentence. Now we need to determine if it is a compound-complex sentence. As there is no dependent clause needed to make it a compound-complex, we know the answer here is Answer (b).
5.
Choose the answer that tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

The judge showed no sympathy with the drunken man for his careless action.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
In this sentence we find two different subjects. They are “The judge” and “the drunken man.” The two subjects are separated by the preposition “with”. This tells us we have a compound sentence. Now let’s see if it also contains a complex sentence that includes an independent clause and a dependent clause. “The Judge showed no sympathy with the drunken man” is an independent clause and it can stand on its own as a complete sentence. However, “for his careless action” is not a complete sentence. It is a dependent clause. We now know we have a compound-complex sentence so the answer is Answer (d).
6.
Choose the answer that tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

We visited the Eiffel Tower before it closed.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
A complex sentence is when you link an independent clause, i.e., a sentence that can stand on its own, with a dependent clause, i.e., an incomplete sentence. In this sentence if we look at “We visited the Eiffel Tower,” we have a complete independent clause. When we look at “before it closed” we have an incomplete sentence or a dependent clause. This tells us the sentence is a complex sentence and the correct answer is Answer (c).
7.
Choose the answer that tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

Mr. Barren teaches history and Mr. Phillips teaches geography.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
Looking at this sentence we can see that there are two subjects/clauses, i.e., “Mr. Barren” and “Mr. Phillips”. The two subjects are also linked by a conjunction “and”. This quickly tells us that we have a compound sentence. Now we need to determine if it is a compound-complex sentence. As there is no dependent clause needed to make it a compound-complex, we know the answer here is Answer (b).
8.
Choose the answer that tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

I have two quarters in my pocket.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
The pronoun “I” is the subject of the sentence. The word “have” is the verb. Finally, the word “quarters” is the object. There are no conjunctions used, we do not have a second subject and there is no dependent clause. This is a simple statement sentence. The correct answer is Answer (a).
9.
Choose the answer that tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

People will buy less food when prices soar.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
In breaking down this sentence we have two parts, i.e., “People will buy less food.” This part of the sentence is known as an independent clause because it can stand on its own as a complete sentence. The second part of the sentence, “when prices soar,” is not a complete sentence and is known as a dependent clause. When we have an independent clause and a dependent clause we have a complex sentence. The correct answer is, therefore, Answer (c).
10.
Choose the answer that tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

Patty came to my house this morning but she didn’t tell me she was leaving for the airport.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
In this sentence we find two different subjects/clauses. They are “Patty came to my house” and “she didn’t tell me.” The two subjects/clauses are separated by a conjunction “and”. This tells us we have a compound sentence. Now we need to see if it also contains a complex sentence that has an independent clause and a dependent clause. “Patty came to my house this morning but she didn’t tell me she was leaving” is an independent clause and it can stand on its own as a complete sentence. However, “for the airport” is not a complete sentence. It is a dependent clause. We now know we have a compound-complex sentence so the answer is Answer (d).
Author:  Christine G. Broome

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