What is the Sentence Structure in English – Definition, Types, Rules, Examples


What is the Sentence structure in English, described along with the basic definition, clear explanation, different types, rules, and a lot of examples!

In this post, we will look at the different sentence structures and examples for you to understand better.

Let’s take a look at the sentence structure!

What is a Sentence Structure in English?

What is the sentence structure in English? Any idea! It is perhaps the most important aspect of using a language. Be it English or any other language, learning about the sentence structure is essential for appropriate usage.

Every language has a specific grammar and based on that, the sentence construction is determined. The same can be said about English as well. Here also, the grammatical rules dictate the different sentence construction. Each of them is very important for expressing our thoughts precisely.

  • Before we move into the sentence structure, you need to understand what exactly a sentence is?
  • Or, to put it simply, what does a sentence consist of?
what sentence structure in English definition types examples
What sentence structure in English definition types examples

Well, a sentence is nothing but a packet or group of words that give us certain information.

This group of words often varies from each other, as there can be,

However, since we are talking about sentence construction here and not all the grammatical elements in the English language, we will discuss from the point of view of clauses.

All the grammatical elements form a clause. In a sentence, based on the context, there can be more than one clause present.

Based on their construction, clauses can be divided into two major parts;

  • Independent or principal clause and
  • subordinate clause.

For a more detailed analysis, you can refer to our previous article about various clauses and examples.

Sentence Structure Examples & Definition

Sentence Structure Definition

Sentence structure in English is defined as the basic formation or framework by which a proper meaning can be conveyed in the English language.

There are few key points to remember,

  • May it is in writing or speaking the English language, the right structure needs to be adopted.
  • Proper punctuation to be placed to convey the meaning. Wrong punctuation may result in the wrong meaning.
  • A sentence of whatever types always start with a capital letter like A, B, C, etc., and always ends with a full stop (.).
  • Placing of subject, verb, semicolon, or colon, or clauses, etc. all are the main focus for the sentence structure.
  • Formation and structure are explained later on.

Sentence Structure with Examples

Let’s see a few examples with a clear explanation of sentence structures!

Example

  • Rima went to the hospital for serving people.
  • Rima went to the hospital. For serving people.

Explanation

In the first example, the complete idea is conveyed and it is structured properly.

In the second example, the idea is incomplete and is not structured properly.

Now, how this sentence structure is formed, what are the components are associated, types all are elaborated below.

Types of Sentence Structures

Based on the function and position of the clauses, sentence structures can be divided into four categories.

They are-

  • simple sentence structure,
  • compound sentence structure,
  • complex sentence structure, and
  • compound-complex sentence structure.

Below, I will be discussing the features of all four types along with examples for your better understanding.

Description & Rules for Sentence Structures

Simple Sentence Structure 

First, we have a simple sentence structure. Here the construction is pretty simple.

Definition

A simple sentence will consist of one principal clause, i.e., one subject and one finite verb, giving you complete information about something.

Rules

The basic rule is as follows,

Subject + Finite verb

Example

  • Rahul waited for the bus.
  • Sheela likes dark chocolate.

Here, in the above sentences,

First sentence:

  • Rahul = Subject and
  • wait = finite verb.

Second sentence:

  • Sheela = Subject and
  • Chocolate = finite verb
sentence structures simple examples
Sentence structures simple examples

Sentence structures simple examples

Sentence Examples

Let’s look at a few examples to understand it better:

  • I have an old blue pen. He bought a new fountain pen.
  • I prefer tea.
  • Julie likes coffee.
  • The earth revolves around the sun.
  • The moon revolves around the earth.
  • I have some ideas about physics.
  • I like the Taj Mahal
  • Rahul waited for the bus

Compound Sentence Structure

Next, we have compound sentence structures.

Definition

Unlike the simple sentence structure, here, you can see two independent clauses, joined by a conjunction or semicolon.

The thing worth noting here is that since two of the clauses used here are independent clauses, they can form a meaning on their own even when used separately.

Rules

The syntax becomes something like this:

Independent clause + coordinating conjunction + Independent clause

Example

  • I like apples, and he likes orange.
  • He is a doctor, and I am an Engineer. 

Here, in the above sentences,

First sentence:

  • I like apples = Independent clause,
  • (‘) = semicolon,
  • and = conjunction,
  • he likes orange = Independent clause.

Second sentence:

  • He is a doctor = Independent clause,
  • (‘) = semicolon,
  • and = conjunction,
  • I am an engineer = Independent clause.
sentence structures compound examples
Sentence structures compound examples

Sentence structures compound examples

Sentence Examples

Let’s look at a few examples to understand them better:

  • I like orange, and he likes mango.
  • My wife is a doctor, and I am an engineer.
  • John wants to go to parties, but Mary likes to stay indoors.
  • We had a little accident on our way; we were the last ones to arrive.
  • He loves to go to the mountains, but she would always prefer the sea.
  • I live in Kolkata, and she lives in Delhi.
  • Rimi loves chocolate, and Harry likes ice cream.
  • His brother is a teacher, and his mother is a software engineer.

As you can see, there is an abundant use of coordinating conjunctions in the examples mentioned above.

So how many conjunctions are there?

In total, there are seven coordinating conjunctions:

  • And
  • But
  • Or
  • Nor
  • For
  • Yet
  • So

Check  a very NICE VIDEO from Oxford Online English,

Complex Sentence Structure

Next, we have complex sentence structures.

Definition

Now, just as the name suggests, it is a bit different from the compound sentence structure. Here, you will get both an independent clause and, at the same time, a subordinate clause.

  • As you might already know from our previous discussions, a dependent clause will consist of subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun.
  • Keep in mind that although it has a subject and verb, it can never express a complete thought. Thus, it is called a dependent clause; it needs the independent clause to form the complete meaning.

Rules

With this, the syntax looks like this:

Independent clause + dependent clause

Example

  • Somi waited for his friend, as she was too late.
  • Rinky missed the flight because she fell sick suddenly.

Here, in the above sentences,

First sentence:

  • Somi waited for his friend = Independent clause,
  • as she was too late = Dependent clause.

Second sentence:

  • Rinky missed the flight = Independent clause.
  • because she fell sick suddenly = Dependent clause.

Sentence Examples

Let’s look at some examples to understand them better:

  • We missed the train because he fell sick at the last moment.
  • They missed their flight because their car broke down in the middle of the road.
  • He called his dad when there was a loud noise outside the building.
  • The dog started barking when someone entered the house.
  • He left hurriedly when he received a call from his wife.
  • Do you know that girl who is standing near the main gate?
  • Can you recognize this man who has committed this crime?

As you can see, in a complex sentence, there is ample use of subordinate conjunctions and even some relative pronouns. So what are the conjunctions and pronouns you need to use often?

  • After
  • Although
  • As
  • Because
  • Before
  • How
  • If
  • Once
  • Since
  • Than
  • That
  • Though
  • Till
  • Until
  • When
  • Where
  • Whether
  • While

Some of the most frequently used relative pronouns are:

  • That
  • Which
  • Who
  • Whom
  • Whose

There are many worksheets for sentence structure available to practice.

Compound-Complex Sentence Structure

Lastly, we have the compound-complex sentence.

Definition

Based on the name, it is a combination of both complex sentence and compound sentence structure, and it consists of two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.

These clauses are joined together with coordinating conjunctions.

Rules

The structure looks like this:

Independent clause + dependent clause+ coordinating conjunction+ independent clause

Example

  • Rehana doesn’t like the sea because she doesn’t know about swimming, so she visits the mountains.  
  • The Royal Bengal tiger started roaring, so the people ran away and nobody couldn’t take pictures.

Here, in the above sentences,

First sentence:

  • Rehana doesn’t like the sea = Independent clause.
  • so the people ran away = Dependent clause.
  • nobody couldn’t take pictures = Independent clause.

Second sentence:

  • The Royal Bengal tiger started roaring = Independent clause.
  • because she doesn’t know about swimming  = Dependent clause.
  • so she visits the mountains = Independent clause.

Sentence Examples

Some examples can be like:

  • Dona doesn’t like the town because that is very congested, so she stayed in the village. 
  • The tiger started roaring, so the deer ran away and nobody couldn’t take pictures.
  • Sahadev forgot his wife’s birthday, so he listens to her nice words when the birthday comes every year.
  • John couldn’t come to the playground because he had a high fever, so the whole team was unhappy.
  • He left the office early without telling anyone but called me late at night.
  • Though Minu prefers watching old Bengali films only, she booked a ticket for an animation movie, and she loved it.

Conclusion

So, there you go, the detailed discussion about the four different sentence structures in the English language. Should you have any further queries, feel free to mention them in the comments section.

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