Sentence Structure
My parents bought a new car.

Sentence Structure

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Sentences can be found in four types of structures. These structures include: (1) the simple sentence structure, (2) the compound sentence structure, (3) the complex sentence structure and (4) the compound-complex sentence structure.

The simple sentence is made up of three basic parts that include a subject (or clause), a verb and an object.

Example: Katherine bought a ticket.

“Katherine” is the subject of the sentence while “bought” is the verb. Finally, the “ticket” is the object.

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

Example: Daddy played golf while Mommy played cards.

“Daddy” and “Mommy” are two independent subjects and they are linked by the conjunction “while”. You will also note that “Daddy played golf” and “Mommy played cards” can each stand on their own as simple sentence structures.

The 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: Tracy sat down when a seat opened.

Let’s break this sentence down. “Tracy sat down” is an independent clause because if removed from the complete sentence above, it would remain a sentence itself, i.e., “Tracy sat down.” On the other hand, “when a seat opened” 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 “Tracy sat down”.

The 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: Jackson went to the store and bought a loaf of bread but his grandmother had asked him to pick up some milk which he forgot.

“Jackson” and “his grandmother” are two independent subjects and they are linked by the conjunction “but”. “Jackson went to the store and bought a loaf of bread but his grandmother had asked him to pick up some milk” is an independent clause. It can stand alone as a complete sentence. However, “which he forgot” is the part of the sentence that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. It is dependent upon “Jackson went to the store and bought a loaf of bread but his grandmother had asked him to pick up some milk.” So, in this sentence we then have all of the elements to make this a compound-complex sentence.

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

The Atlantic is an Ocean while the Hudson is a river.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
Looking at this sentence we can see that there are two subjects/clauses, i.e., “Atlantic” and “Hudson”. The two subjects are also linked by a conjunction “while”. 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) making this a compound sentence.
2.
Choose which answer tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

My parents bought a new car.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
“My parents” is the subject of the sentence. The word “bought” is the verb and the word “car” 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).
3.
Choose which answer tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

My father mowed the lawn but Uncle Phil just wanted to sleep.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
Looking at this sentence we can see that there are two subjects/clauses, i.e., “My father” and “Uncle Phil”. The two subjects are also linked by a 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) making this a compound sentence.
4.
Choose which answer tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

Sally found a dress to wear at the wedding that matched her shoes.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
In breaking down this sentence we have two parts, i.e., “Sally found a dress to wear at the wedding.” 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, “that matched her shoes,” 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).
5.
Choose which answer tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

Janelle has six siblings.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
“Janelle” is the subject of the sentence. The word “has” is the verb and the word “siblings” 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).
6.
Choose which answer tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

Mark climbed all the way up the rock wall but I’ll never get that far for pity sake.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
In this sentence we find two different subjects/clauses. They are “Mark climbed all the way up the rock wall” and “I’ll never get that far.” 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. “Mark climbed all the way up the rock wall but I’ll never get that far” is an independent clause and it can stand on its own as a complete sentence. However, “for pity sake” 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).
7.
Choose which answer tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

Junk food can cause you to gain a lot of weight when eaten.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
In breaking down this sentence we have two parts, i.e., “Junk food can cause you to gain a lot of weight.” 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 eaten,” 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).
8.
Choose which answer tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

Boston is in Massachusetts.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
“Boston” is the subject of the sentence. The word “is” is the verb and the word “Massachusetts” 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 which answer tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

David plays the saxophone and Daniel plays the drum.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
Looking at this sentence we can see that there are two subjects/clauses, i.e., “David” and “Daniel”. 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).
10.
Choose which answer tells us the correct structure of the sentence.

The Principal suspended him for three days and his parents grounded him for a week for his cheating.
Simple
Compound
Complex
Compound - Complex
In this sentence we find two different subjects/clauses. They are “The Principal suspended him for three days” and “his parents grounded him for a week.” 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. “The Principal suspended him for three days and his parents grounded him for a week” is an independent clause and it can stand on its own as a complete sentence. However, “for his cheating” 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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