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First, the simple sentence, AKA the independent clause. You can also think of it as a complete
thought. So long as it’s got a subject and a verb, you’re set.
The other two types use different helper words to connect clauses.
Compound sentences have two independent clauses, connected with a helper word such as and,
nor, or so.
And finally, complex sentences really live up to their name… they have an independent
clause plus one or more dependent clauses…
…which can’t stand alone as complete thoughts… so they’re connected via a helper word such
as although, when, or which.
Now let’s translate this all into English.
Here’s the simplest of simple sentences.
A simple sentence is solid; it stands on its own.
That’s why it’s also known as an independent clause.
Like our friend over here…it stands on two legs: a subject and a verb.
But a simple sentence doesn’t have to be quite so simple.
It can have a compound subject – that is, multiple subjects…
“Mike and Bobby are caught by the police.”
…or a compound verb.
Mike goes home and loses his “art supplies.” In a compound sentence…
…you’ve got one sentence, but two independent clauses…
…joined by a FANBOYS coordinator.
And by FANBOYS we mean for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.
These FANBOYS are just dying to get between two independent clauses…
…usually preceded by a comma.
“Bobby failed miserably to impress Lisa, yet he kept trying to impress Megan, too.”
And then there’s the…complex sentences.
That is, an independent clause joined to one or more dependent clauses.
They’re joined by either a subordinator – such as because, after, although, or when,
or a relative pronoun such as that, who, or which.
“Mike took down his shrine to Suzie which took over a month to make.”
And one with two dependent clauses:
“Although Suzie thought Mike was sort of cute, she preferred someone who didn’t literally
So there are three sentence types – simple, compound, and complex.
A simple sentence is an independent clause -- with at least one subject and verb.
A compound sentence is two independent clauses joined together by FANBOYS.
And a complex sentence is one independent clause plus one or more dependent clauses,
joined by a subordinator or relative pronoun.
Just remember that there’s always got to be as least one independent clause in each
Because somebody’s got to stay independent…