Types of sentences

A sentence, for the purpose of analysis, can be examined from the point of view of its structure. Depending on the number of clauses it contains, a sentence can be called simple, complex or compound.
Let us look at each of these types of sentences with examples

Types of sentences

Simple sentence

A Simple sentences is one which contains only one subject and one predicate.
(The subject: Person or thing about which something is said).
(The predicate: What is said about the subject).

In other words a simple sentence contains only one main clause. It doesn’t have a subordinate clauses.


  • My father(Subject) is a senior manager in this organisation(Predicate).
  • Chandigarh(Subject) is a planned City(Predicate).
  • Microbiology(Subject) is an interesting subject for me(Predicate).

Note that there is only one finite verb in each of the above sentences. That means there is only one clause. One clause sentences a simple sentence.

Compound sentence

The compound sentence is one which contains two or more main or principal clause. It may or may not have subordinate clauses. It may or may not have subordinate clauses.

In other words a compound sentence consists of two or more independent sentences joined together by a coordinating conjunction.


  • He is poor yet he is happy.

The above sentence consists of two parts

  • He is poor.
  • He is happy.

These two are joined by the coordinating conjunction ‘yet’. In the above example, each part contains a subject and predicate of its own that is each part is called a clause.
Each Clause makes good sense by itself, and hence can stand independent of the other. Hence it is called a principal clause or a main clause.

Study the following examples


  • You may either stay in the hostel for stay with your relatives.
  • The flowers are blooming, the birds were singing, and spring was in the air.


In sentence 1, there are two main clauses.
In sentence 2, there are three main clauses.

The above types of sentences is a compound sentence.

Some more examples of compound sentences

  • I went to his farmhouse several times, but I was unable to meet him.
  • He is very intelligent, yet he has failed in the examination.
  • Many doctors are attending on him, still he is not out of danger.
  • He is very tired, for he has been working since morning.

In the above examples, the underlined words are called coordinating conjunctions. Coordinating junctions join main clauses.

The following is a list of some coordinating conjunctions

And, as well as, also, too, both, not only, but also, now, well, either or, neither nor, otherwise, or, else, still, yet, only, however, whereas, but, nevertheless, therefore, for, so, then.

Complex sentence

A Complex sentence is one which contains only one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses.

Example 1

  • If you work hard you will pass.

In the above example, the clause ‘you will pass’ makes good sense by itself, And hence can stand by itself. This is called the principal or independent clause.

The clause ‘if you work hard,’ cannot stand independently, it depends on the clause,’ you will pass’. It is therefore called a dependent or a subordinate clause.

Example 2

  • As soon as a meeting began, a member said that he wanted to raise a point of order.


This types of sentences has only one main clause and two subordinate clauses. Therefore, this is a complex sentence.

Subordinate clause 1 That he wanted to raise a point of order.
Subordinate clause 2 As soon as the meeting began.
Main clause A member said.

Some more examples of complex sentences.

  1. The children rode an elephant when they visited the zoo.
  2. I think that the president will not accept this proposal.
  3. They were so tired that they simply had to sit down to take rest.
  4. He knew that he had to get someone to cut down the trees in the garden.
  5. If you want a passport you must consult the passport issuing authority in the City.

In the above examples, the underlined words are called subordinating conjunctions which introduce subordinate clauses.

The following is a list of some subordinating conjunctions

after, before, since, as soon as, while, until, as, so long as, till, in order to, so that, that because, since, as, opposing, unless, whether, on condition,so… that, than, no else than, as, as much as, as far as, according as, as if though, although, however, notwithstanding, as even if, whatever, whichever.

Also Read: English Grammar

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