7 Patterns of Sentence Structure
Sentence structure can be categorized into seven patterns: one simple, three compound, two complex, and one compound-complex. Here are examples of each pattern with accompanying formulas, all to help you think of how to craft sentences in a greater variety of syntax:
1. Simple sentence (independent clause): “I went for a walk.”
(An independent clause is set of words that includes a subject and a predicate. It can be a sentence or part of one. A dependent, or subordinate, clause is one that cannot stand on its own but provides additional information to supplement an independent clause.)
2. Compound sentence, IC+CC+IC (independent clause plus coordinating conjunction plus independent clause): “I went for a walk, and I was soothed by the gentle night air.”
(Coordinating conjunctions are words that link one independent clause to another to form a compound sentence. These words can be recalled with the mnemonic FANBOYS and include for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.)
3. Compound sentence, IC+S+IC (independent clause plus semicolon plus independent clause): “I went for a walk; I was soothed by the gentle night air.”
4. Compound sentence, IC+AC+IC (independent clause plus adverbial conjunction plus independent clause): “I went for a walk; consequently, I was soothed by the gentle night air.”
(Adverbial conjunctions are adverbs that serve, when following a semicolon, to link independent clauses. They include consequently, however, moreover, nevertheless, therefore, and thus.)
5. Complex sentence, DM+C+IC (dependent marker plus clause plus independent clause): “Because I hoped to be soothed by the gentle night air, I went for a walk.”
(Dependent markers are words that provide a relative context for a subordinate clause. They include after, although, as, “as if,” because, before, if, since, though, until, when, where, whether, and while.)
6. Complex sentence, RP+C (relative pronoun plus clause): “Whatever doubts I had about taking a walk dissipated when I was soothed by the gentle night air.”
(Relative pronouns are pronouns that relate a subordinate clause to the noun it modifies. They include who, whom, whose, whoever, whosoever, whomever, which, what, whatever, and sometimes that.)
7. Compound-complex sentence, DC+IC+CC+IC (dependent clause plus independent clause plus coordinating conjunction plus independent clause): “As I headed out for a walk, my doubts about doing so dissipated, and I was soothed by the gentle night air.”
There are, of course, many variations to these patterns; even a simple sentence, for instance, can begin with the object in the example converted to the subject of another simple sentence: “A walk was my next order of business.”
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