The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Writers Workshop: Writer Resources

Grammar Handbook: Sentence Types

Sentences can be either simple, compound, complex, or compound-complex.

The Simple Sentence

Simple sentences have only one independent clause. There are no dependent clauses, and the sentence must be limited to one subject and one predicate. The sentence may contain modifying words or phrases:

The Compound Sentence

Compound sentences are composed of two or more independent clauses, which are joined by a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon. One should always use a comma before any coordinating conjunction that connects two independent clauses:

The Complex Sentence

Complex sentences use one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses:

The Compound-Complex Sentence

The compound-complex sentence joins a compound and a complex sentence together. It should contain two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses:

Comma Usage

For proper comma usage with each sentence type, see Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses.