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Simple Sentence

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English

A simple sentence is, as the name suggests, the simplest type of sentence. It has a very easy structure and is only made up of 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 on their own and don't have any additional information.

Clauses are the building blocks of sentences. There are two types of clauses, these are known as independent and dependent clauses. Independent clauses work on their own and dependent clauses rely on other parts of the sentence. To find out more about clauses, you can look at:

How are Simple Sentences formed?

Simple sentences only contain one independent clause. Within this independent clause, the sentence must contain 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 a conjunction or new information is not added. If either of these 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 simple sentence has multiple subjects it is called a compound subject simple sentence, and when a simple sentence has multiple verbs it is called a compound verb simple sentence.

What are some examples of Simple Sentences?

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?

Now that we've seen some examples of simple sentences, let's take a look at a piece of text where simple sentences are used frequently.

As you read through, can you spot all the simple sentences?

Remember: in imperative sentences the subject is implied.

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 useful, as shown in the example above. Simple sentences are direct and clear - perfect for giving informative instructions that are easy to understand.

Create a dip in the dry ingredients and add the eggs and melted butter.

Unlike the other sentences within the text, this is not a simple sentence. Instead, this sentence is a compound sentence because it uses the conjunction 'and'.

Why do you think only one of the sentences in the cooking instructions was not a simple sentence?

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

Why are Simple Sentences used?

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 or talk about a single event.

What are the characteristics of Simple Sentences?

Simple sentences do not introduce additional information (which we add onto sentences by using a dependent clause) and are very straightforward. They are very commonly used as they are the easiest type of sentence.

Because of this, simple sentences are very direct and clear. As the above example of simple sentences in cooking instructions shows, simple sentences work well when we are trying to instruct as they are clear and uncomplicated.

In a more complex text, simple sentences should be balanced out with other sentences types because 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 do you identify a Simple Sentence?

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:

  • A compound sentence contains two or more independent clauses.

  • A complex sentence contains at least one dependent clause alongside an independent one.

  • A compound-complex sentence has at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.

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 can see this as 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, despite the fact that 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 - 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 contain an object and/or a modifier.

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.


Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

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.


Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

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


Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

Question

Are simple sentences a basic sentence type?


Show answer

Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

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


Show answer

Answer

Cat.

Show question

Question

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


Show answer

Answer

Raced.

Show question

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

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