Effective writing uses various sentence types. It is important to understand the differences between each type. Three types of sentences that are most commonly used are:
Simple sentences contain a subject and a verb that come together to create a complete thought. Examples:
Joe and Sam drove to school.
Emily waited for the bus.
The teacher was late.
Compound sentences are made up of two independent clauses that are connected with a conjunction. Conjunctions include for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Examples:
Emily waited for the bus, but the bus was late.
Joe and Sam drove to school, so I missed them at the bus stop.
The teacher was late to school, and she forgot to bring her coffee.
Complex sentences are made up of an independent clause and a dependent clause (or dependent clauses) attached to it. A dependent clause lacks an element that would make it a complete sentence. Examples:
Because Joe and Sam drove to school, I did not see them at the bus stop.
While Emily waited at the bus stop, she realized the bus was running late.
After they drove to school, Joe and Sam realized that Emily was waiting at the bus stop.
Authors use parallel structure (or parallelism) to add clarity to writing by creating word patterns that are easy for a reader to follow. Authors do this by repeating grammatical form in a sentence using a pattern. For example:
Non-parallel: Sarah likes hiking, the movies, and to take long naps.
Parallel: Sarah likes hiking, going to the movies, and taking long naps.
The nonparallel structure was corrected when all the tenses of the verbs were changed to the same tense.
Colon versus Semicolon
Colons and semicolons are used to separate thoughts and independent clauses, which are clauses that could be complete sentences.
A semicolon is used to separate thoughts and provides more separation than a comma, but less separation than a period.
Most often a semicolon will:
- Separate items on a list, especially when some of those items already contain commas. Example:
I bought large, ripe bananas; small, red apples; and fresh blueberries.
- Join two sentences. Example:
I went to the store today. I bought some fruit; bananas, apples, and blueberries were all half off.
Most often a colon will:
- Direct attention to, announce or introduce a list, noun, quote, or example. Examples:
We covered many topics in math class today: multiplication, division, and adding and subtracting fractions.
My parents gave me what I needed most: love, patience, and kindness.
A dolphin is not a fish: it is a mammal.
- Express time and use in titles. Examples:
3:45 (three hours and forty-five minutes)
Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
And that’s some basic info about the Language Use and Vocabulary content category.