Glossary: simple sentence

Explanation

A sentence containing only one main clause, with no subordinate clauses inside it, e.g. Kate visited her cousins yesterday. It may also be referred to as a single-clause sentence. This terminology is preferred in the National Curriculum.

Writing with different sentence types

In this lesson, students explore the effects of using different types of sentences, such as simple sentences, compound sentences and complex sentences. In the National Curriculum compound sentences and complex sentences are now lumped together as multi-clause sentences.

Sentence types: Simple, compound or complex?

Simple, compound or complex? Look at each of the following examples, and click on the right sentence type.

Clauses: Further guidance for teachers

Modern grammatical descriptions of English differ in some ways from the accounts in traditional grammars. This can sometimes lead to confusion. Here we note a few important differences in relation to the analysis of clauses and sentences.

Clauses: Main and subordinate clauses

Typically, a clause expresses a particular situation – an event or state of affairs. To do this, it usually needs to contain a verb. Here is an example of a clause:

  • My brother phoned my cousin on Tuesday night.

This expresses an event, with the verb phoned indicating the type of event.

Here are some more examples of clauses, with the verb phrases highlighted:

Sentence types: simple, compound, complex

This unit further explains simple sentences, compound sentences and complex sentences, which were introduced in the unit 'Clauses: main and subordinate'. Simple sentences contain one clause, while compound and complex sentences contain more than one clause.

National Curriculum note: The National Curriculum now refers to sentences that contain one clause as single-clause sentences, and those that contain more than one clause as multi-clause sentences.

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