Sentence structure is an essential element of effective written communication in various contexts.
Sentence structure dictates how the parts of a sentence are fitted together.
Definition: Sentence structure
Sentence structure refers to the arrangement of the grammatical parts of a sentence. These parts include:
- The subject
- Direct or indirect objects
The two most common mistakes in sentence construction are:
- These are sentences with missing elements such as the verb or main subject
- They occur when two independent clauses are not punctuated or joined correctly.
The 4 types of sentence structure
There are four main types of sentence structure used in academic writing:
1. Simple sentences
The simple sentence structure consists of one independent clause made up of:
- Is the noun that performs an action in a sentence
- This is the action in the sentence structure
The simple sentence structure may also have a direct or indirect object.
2. Compound sentences
Compound sentences use conjunctions to link two or more independent clauses. Conjunctions include:
3. Complex sentences
An independent clause is linked with a dependent clause in the complex sentence structure.
They must be joined with an independent clause to convey a complete thought.
4. Compound-complex sentences
They combine complex and compound sentence structures by combining two or more independent clauses and one dependent clause.
Avoid run-on sentence structure
Run-on sentences happen when two independent clauses are linked incorrectly. Run-on sentences may occur in short sentences because of two common mistakes:2
This happens when a comma is used to join the independent clauses.
The above sentence can be corrected in the following ways:
Sentence structure: Sentence fragments
The sentence structure is complete if it contains a subject and a predicate.4
Subjects and predicates
The subject represents the person or object that performs an action. The predicate is the verb part that tells us what the subject is or the action they perform.
When the predicate is missing
A sentence without a main verb is not considered grammatically correct. The noun phrase alone does not complete a sentence.
Stand-alone dependent clause
Dependent clauses have a subject and a predicate. However, they are incomplete and are considered grammatically incorrect.5
They are created with subordinating conjunctions like:
Using the present participle incorrectly
The present participle is the form of a verb that ends with the prefix (-ing) such as:
The verb “be” is the most miswritten as “being” instead of “is” or “was”.
Sentence structure: Splitting long sentences
Long sentences are often hard to follow and may lose the message in a sea of words. Aim for 15-25 words by removing unnecessary phrases.
Also, avoid introductory clauses that are too long. They create redundancy, and new information might be lost in the introduction.
Sentence structure: Linking short sentences
Too many short sentences may make your work appear disjointed and incoherent.
The four types of sentence structures are:
Start by removing any redundant content.
Break down the sentence into shorter ones, using conjunctions and the appropriate punctuation.
A subject is the part of a sentence that contains the noun.
A predicate refers to the verb form in the sentence structure.
1 Provost, Rex. “What is Sentence Structure – Examples and Tips for Writers.” StudioBinder. January 30, 2022. https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/what-is-sentence-structure-examples/.
2 Walden University. “Grammar: Run-On Sentences and Sentence Fragments.” Accessed November 17, 2022. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/grammar/runonsentences.
3 Grammarly. “Comma Splice.” Accessed November 17, 2022. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/comma-splice/.
4 Northern Illinois University. “Sentence Fragments.” Accessed November 17, 2022. https://www.niu.edu/writingtutorial/punctuation/sentence-fragments.shtml.
5 AskBetty. “Sentence Structure.” Accessed November 17, 2022. https://depts.washington.edu/engl/askbetty/sentence_structure.php.