Types of sentences


There are different types of sentences. And we’re going to briefly go through them. These are more for your information than anything else. But you can use simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, or compound-complex sentences. And I’m going to give a brief description of all of these.

So, a simple sentence is just an independent clause. It’s just one independent clause that stands by itself. A compound sentence is where you have more than one independent clause together. You might have, “He performed the research, and he won an award for his strong work.” You have two complete sentences, two independent clauses combined together, and that is a compound sentence.

Complex means that you have one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses in the sentence. So we have the sentence “Although he had never been a good student in high school, he graduated from university summa cum laude.” To make up the complex sentence, we have our independent clause, “he graduated from university summa cum laude,” and we have our dependent clause, “Although he had never been a good student in high school.”

Compound-complex is where you have two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. So here we are giving you examples of how you can combine your phrases and clauses, specifically our clauses together, to create different varieties of sentences.

It’s not necessarily important that you can label which is a compound sentence or which is a complex sentence. But it is important to know that you can combine clauses and phrases in these ways so that you can use these different types of sentences in your writing to be as clear as possible and vary your writing in a way that makes it engaging for your reader.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3491588 ]

See also:

Simple Sentences
Compound Sentences
Complex Sentences
Combining Sentences
Common errors in structuring sentences


How to engage your reader with academic writing?

1. What does it mean to engage your reader?


So first off, we just want to talk about the word “engage.” What does the word “engage” even mean? And, according to Merriam-Webster here, it’s to really grab the attention, hold the attention of, attract or hold by influence or power. And to induce or participate.

I know a lot of times when we talk about writing in an academic sense, we talk about it as a conversation, because really, writing is a form of communication, and communication goes two ways. So you want to be able to invite your readers to participate with you in this academic journey, whether that’s a course paper or a dissertation.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3307000 ]

2. Syntax


The first example is with syntax. This is the way that words are put together to form a sentence. So oftentimes, I will see repetitive syntax in student writing because, you know, a student maybe is very comfortable in one style of sentence writing, and so that’s what the whole paper ends up being. But if you think about this example, if I were telling you a story: I went to the store. I bought eggs. I got in my car. I drove home. I made dinner.”

Okay, that gets a little monotonous, a little burdensome. As a reader, a listener, rather than saying that, I could simply say, “I went to the store and bought eggs because I had to make dinner,” or something along those lines. I can combine some of those sentences and change the syntax, the way that the words and the grammar is arranged, to keep my reader interested.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3307347 ]

3. Sentence Structure


The next tool that you have is your sentence structure. And this is sort of related to the syntax. But the sentence structure really refers to the way that you group the words in your sentences. So, if you remember from, you know, either grammar school or you may have seen previous webinars where we’ve talked about phrases and clauses—phrases and clauses are kind of those grammar geek terms that just talk about the way words are combined, and they’re groups of words in a sentence. So they’re groups of words that work together in a sentence. And each sentence is made up of a combination of these phrases and clauses.

So if we use these, the nice thing about phrases and clauses is that you can intermix them and change the order of them to, again, vary the way that your sentence is portrayed to the reader. So let’s look at a few examples here. If you look at the examples, we have the examples:

  • Teachers create lesson plans.
  • Teachers revise lesson plans.
  • Students benefit from good teachers.
  • Students learn more from good teachers.

Okay, each of these are kind of an individual group of words together. If we combine them, though, we can have some sentences that have a mix of these phrases and clauses.

Teachers are responsible for creating and revising lesson plans. When teachers do this well, students benefit in many ways. One benefit can be increased learning.

Especially in the second example there—when teachers do this well, comma, students benefit in many ways—this is a great example of where there are a couple phrases and clauses mixed together, and one comes before the other that maybe wouldn’t always come in that order. So the way that you mix those up, and match—mix and match—those phrases and clauses, really gives a sense of variety and a sense of variation for your reader. So again, they are more engaged in your writing.

Take a look at the examples on this page. I’m going to read the last two, simply because I want to show you how these use the exact same words but in a different order. So the middle example here says, “Because counseling can be emotionally draining,”—that’s one chunk—“counselors must ensure that they take care of themselves”—that’s another chunk—“before they will be able to take care of their patients”—that’s another chunk. Ok, so we have those three groups of words working together.

If you look at the next example, it takes those three groups and puts them in a different order. “Counselors must ensure they take care of themselves [pause] because counseling can be emotionally draining [pause] before they will be able to take care of their patients.” We have exactly the same words; there was no variation in words whatsoever, but there was a variation in the way that the sentence was ordered and the way that those groups of words showed up in the sentence. So again, there’s lots of variation, lots of ways you can vary your sentences to better engage your readers.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3307369 ]

4. Punctuation


Punctuation can be used, really, to just, again, give some difference in sentence structure and help you use those other two tools, the syntax and the sentence structure, and then still show different relationships between the ideas. So whether you use a semicolon or a period or a comma, they show different things.

So a semicolon is going to show two related ideas that are complete sentences. A comma is going to, you know, maybe separate items in a list or maybe separate, if it’s used with an and, maybe separate two complete sentences. If you have two commas, you’re making that phrase kind of like a “by the way” side note. So for example, the third one down here, we have, “Managers, responsible for accurate and effective communication, must tell employees about organizational changes.” That internal part—“responsible for accurate and effective communication”—that’s sort of like a side note, so it’s set off with those commas. And the last example uses a colon to kind of set off a list or an important or emphatic part of the sentence. These can definitely help you to vary the structure and to engage your reader in a different way.

I think you probably are familiar with, you know, the use of an exclamation point versus a period. If you get an e-mail from your boss that says, “Great job!” with an exclamation point, that makes you feel pretty good. If you get an e-mail from someone that just says, “Great job, period,” you don’t know whether they are enthusiastic or sarcastic…. it’s difficult to know, right. So punctuation makes a big difference in how you engage your readers.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3307620 ]

5. Transitions


Using transitions can really help to engage your readers and keep them connected to your writing because without transitions, it can be very abrupt to jump from one topic to another. And transitions actually help to show relationships between your ideas. So, some of the different types of transitions might be transitions that show time frames; they might show relationships that are cause and effect; they might be transitions that show addition; or they might be some that show how ideas contrast with one another.

So, for example, in the category of time, there are the words: then, next, after, and so on. Cause and effect might be: because or consequently. In the category of addition, you might say: also, similarly. And then, if you had a category of contrasting, you might say: however or but. So you can see how these show different relationships.

The thing with transitions is if you’re going to use them, and especially if you’re going to use transitional phrases or words, use them sparingly and carefully because you really do want to make sure that you are accurately conveying the relationships that they show. So a lot of times, you can tell that, you know, a good transition also uses repeated words or phrases. And now I know I just told you, don’t use extra repetition if it’s not necessary. But sometimes a way to keep the reader engaged and keep the thought and concept flowing is to repeat just a word or a phrase that’s a keyword or phrase that helps the reader continue moving on. So for example here, we have:

A key danger for patients in hospitals are falls. Falls can result in more injuries that pose a threat to patient health.

Notice the word falls is repeated but kind of necessary to keep the reader moving forward. And also punctuation can help to keep the reader moving within the direction of the paper. Instead of using a period, for example, which is a little more abrupt, you might consider using a semicolon, which indicates that you have two complete sentences but the ideas are related to one another.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3313391 ]

Examples of Transitions


So in this example paragraph there are no clear transitions.

I’m going to read it aloud, and I’d like you to follow along and really listen to how this sounds and the choppiness and the abruptness of these sentences.

“There’s a problem within public schools today regarding meeting no child left behind, NCLB legislation. NCLB mandates that all children achieve benchmark levels for the subject areas of reading and mathematics. Standardized test scores typically do not reflect successful attainment. The cause is the traditional teaching practice toward a single approach to learning, instead of the differentiated introduction practice of teaching toward a variety of modalities. Tomlinson, 2001, page two. Traditional instruction has not worked at all for students. The focus of this study is to explore how teachers can best make use of differentiated instruction to help children learn.”

So here is an example. This is actually fairly well written. The ideas seem clear, it seems like it’s well-presented in that it’s not confusing. The grammar is clear. But there’s really no transition. So it’s sort of list-like.

There’s a problem within the schools. NCLB mandates there. Standardized test scores do not reflect this. The cause is this. Traditional instruction has not worked. So you can see, it kind of feels more like a list than a cohesive paragraph or cohesive group.

So if we look at the next example, though, we’ve added a few transitions. And these help to combine the ideas, make the work flow a little and throw out the list-like feeling.

So we have, “within public schools there’s a problem. Traditionally, NCLB mandates that all students—”Again, we have kind of a repeated word. “All students achieve benchmark levels. However, standardized test scores show that typically students do not achieve these benchmarks.”

So again, we’re repeating “benchmarks” now, too. “The cause for specific lack of achievement is the traditional teaching practice; thus far, traditional instruction has not worked for all students because of this lack of achievement.”

So you can see, all of these ideas are kind of being put together. Their relationship is a little bit clearer with words like: “traditionally,” “however,” “thus far,” “because of.” And then you have these repeated words, “all students,” “benchmarks,” “lack of achievement.”

So because these are all put together in this paragraph, as a reader, it’s easier for me to follow. And I don’t feel like there is so much of an abrupt stop between each idea.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3313343 ]

6. Avoid Wordiness and Redundancy


Don’t be overly wordy. You don’t need to use twice as many words to say the same thing if a smaller number of words is going to be sufficient. So beware, as you’re writing. I think a lot of times when we think about academic writing, we think, “I have to sound smart. I have to put lots of words in there. I have oh, to put lots of big words in there.” That’s not always the case.

When you want to really engage your reader, you want to sound as if you know what you’re talking about most definitely, and you want to be evidence-based and research-based if you’re doing your research project. But you can do that in a very direct and concise way. You don’t have to use extra words.

So we have a few examples here.

One thing that comes up with wordiness, a lot, are unnecessary words like “very” and “really.” These not only make your writing wordy, but they also kind of give an emotional feel to your writing, and so you want to avoid, you know, putting any kind of emotion like that into your writing. While you might be passionate about the subject, you still want to maintain an objective, authorial distance as the author of the work.

So instead of saying, “the teachers were very well informed” you could say “the teachers were well informed as illustrated by the lengthy discussion they had about the English Language Learners.” Here we know why they were well informed. It may even have more words to describe something, but it’s –it’s much more precise, and specific.

So instead of saying, “the manager really understood his employees.” You could say “the manager understood his employees in depth, valuing them as people as well as employees.” So again, you know, you may actually use more words to be more specific, and that’s okay. But it’s definitely to your benefit to avoid any unnecessary words. And very and really are often used in that way.

Also circumlocution is another word that goes into wordiness. Talking about wordiness, that’s really wordy! It’s really another way to say that you’re talking around the point instead of getting to it.

So in the example here, instead of saying that, “the woman was the patient, had lived 30 years, and was located in an area outside of New York City but not far away.” You could simply say, “the female patient was 30 years old and lived in a New York City suburb.” You can see there’s a difference here. Instead of talking around the idea, just saying it directly is always the best way to go. It avoids sort of that circular reasoning and those roundabout explanations.

Redundancy is another thing that happens when we think about wordiness. And redundancy means unnecessary repetition. If you don’t need to repeat it, don’t. There’s no need for it. So instead of repeating information, even if it’s in the next sentence, it’s just a good idea to be specific and try to group your information together in a way that all of the information related to a certain topic is all in one place. And then you don’t have to go back and repeat unnecessarily.

So you can see an example of this here. Where we talk about, it says, “to be a counselor, it is important to have good listening skills for counseling patients. As good listening skills for counseling patients leads to better understanding of a patient, which, as a counselor, is the entire purpose of a counseling session.”

You can see even in that example, the word “counselor,” “listening skills,” “good listening,” “good counseling” are repeated multiple times. And as a reader, I find that very difficult to articulate, even just reading it out loud.

So, again, being precise and specific will help there.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3307657 ]

7. Avoid Casual Language


Casual language. Now, I think a lot of times when we enter into the realm of academia, when we start to write in an academic way, it becomes challenging for us as writers because we want to write how we speak. And that’s actually not a good way to write. Because we are writing for different audiences, different, what we would consider discourse communities, you know, writing is a very different kind of communication than speaking is.

So when we’re writing in the academic audience or for an academic audience, rather, we want to be sure that we are using academic tone and avoiding that conversational language.

So things like, metaphors, things that are considered clichés or maybe idioms, you know, those are things that we want to avoid because they can’t always be translated to readers that maybe are not familiar culturally with the language. And it might even just confuse some readers, even, you know, native readers who are strong readers, might just be confused by the use of language.

So when I think of clichés and idioms, I think of an experience that I actually had where someone asked me in — from another culture – asked me if I had fallen out of a sugar sack as a child, and I had no idea what she was saying. And I came to find out that it was — it was a cliché for, you know, an idiom for, you are a very sweet person. So it can be very confusing as a reader to read those kinds of things in your writing.

So instead of saying “the doors were closed to advancement,” you can actually say “there was no way to advance.” Or instead of “it was a slippery slope to failure.” You know, you could say “failure occurred easily.”

And so avoiding those kind of more metaphorical, more cliché phrases will definitely help to keep your readers engaged because they won’t be confused. And I think it’s — it’s a little bit different than what we would expect, because when we think of engaging writing, we don’t think, “I have to be creative; I have to really, you know, draw my readers in with my creativity,” but you can do that while still staying within the bounds of the rules and standards of academic writing. And that’s where the syntax and the style, and the punctuation and sentence structure all kind of work together.

[Source: Walden University.  https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3313280 ]


Modifiers, Misplaced Modifiers, Dangling Modifiers


This part of speech, this word might be a little bit unfamiliar. But basically all a modifier is, is a word that gives information about another word.There are two main types of modifiers. Adjectives, which describe nouns, so you can see here, [reading from the slide], “Cathy is the company’s first female CEO,”

The word “female” describes the word “CEO”, so this is an adjective. And then adverbs, which describe verbs, adjectives, or other words. So for example, [reading from the slide], “Cathy recently accepted the CEO position.”

When did she accept it? “Recently.” She is “very eager.”

How eager is she? “very.” [Reading from the slide again], “To meet her staff and is meeting on Monday with all the managers.” And interestingly, adverbs can be more than one word. As you can see here, “on Monday.”

This phrase explains when she is meeting. It actually modifies the word “meeting”, so it counts as an adverb. I’m not going to spend too much time on modifiers, but I do want to talk about one very common error that I see in student papers. Just as you always want to be clear what noun your pronouns refer to, you always want to be clear what your modifiers are modifying. So let’s look at this example down here in this little tip box. [Reading from the slide]: “As a nurse, patients should be my main concern.” Now, the way this sentence is set up, it makes it look as though “patients” is the word being modified.

Now, the problem with that is patients are not a nurse, right? It’s a little bit confusing, so this is what’s called a misplaced modifier. So you just wanted to adjust the sentence a little bit to make it clear what word this phrase is actually modifying.

[Reading from the slide]: “As a nurse, I should mainly be concerned about patients.”

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3437397 ]

Misplaced Modifiers


When a modifier is not modifying the correct word, we would call that a misplaced modifier. So, here the original sentence is “The study that was extremely difficult was eventually published by a famous researcher.” This sentence correctly uses the modifier. In this sentence, the phrase “that was extremely difficult” is describing “the study”, and it’s important to the meaning of the sentence, which is why there are no commas around it–it’s necessary to fully understand the sentence. If those two parts of the sentence get separated, then the sentence might be a little bit confusing and may have a different meaning, so our second sentence is an example of a misplaced modifier.

So in the second example, “The study was eventually published by a famous researcher that was extremely difficult,” now it sounds like the researcher was extremely difficult and that’s not the original intention of the sentence because really it’s the study that was difficult, so this sentence has a misplaced modifier.

So you do have to be very careful when you’re using descriptive phrases and clauses that it is clear what they are describing in the sentence, or you may unintentionally be calling a researcher very difficult. So be sure to watch for misplaced modifiers, which can cause confusion in your sentences.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3437958 ]

Dangling Modifiers


Dangling modifiers are where the main part of a description is disconnected from the description because the description is actually at the very beginning of the sentence. So, you may have a descriptive clause or phrase usually as an introduction and it’s set off by a comma, but then the very next word should be the main part of the description that is attached to it.

So, an example of a dangling modifier, where it’s not done correctly, is the following: “Racing across the finish line, her shoe fell off.” Well, who or what is racing across the finish line? Whoever that is, the very next word after that comma, after that phrase “Racing across the finish line,” should be the main part of that description. So, is her shoe racing across the finish line? It sounds like her shoes are just racing by themselves. That’s not quite what we want to communicate. The revision would be “Racing across the finish line, she lost her shoe” because “she” is the one that is racing across the finish line.

Dangling modifiers can be really entertaining if they’re done wrong, but they can be very misleading as far as communicating your ideas to your reader. So you want to be careful when you’re using descriptions that the main idea is always attached, even if it comes after the description, it needs to be right next to that descriptive phrase or clause.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3437978 ]


Common errors in structuring sentences

1. Fragments


Sentence fragments are basically incomplete sentences. They lack one or more necessary components of a sentence and/or do not express a complete idea.

So we’ll look at a couple of examples. Here I have the example “Showed no improvement in any vital signs.” So this is an incomplete sentence, a sentence fragment, because it’s missing the subject. Who showed no improvement in any vital signs?

So we have the predicate from a sentence, we’re missing the subject.

So to revise this, we could say: “The patient showed no improvement in any vital signs.” So here we have a subject, we have a predicate, we have a period, we have a complete sentence.

“Study skills that Alice uses.” Here we have a subject. So we have “study skills” and we describe study skills a little bit more by saying that they’re the ones that Alice uses. So we have subject but no predicate.

Here we just need to add a predicate: “Study skills that Alice uses include time management and note taking.”

So most problems with sentence fragments, however, are in more complicated sentences. So I showed a couple of maybe simple examples, and we’ll look at a couple of more complex examples.

“The manager announced a new job position; to work with the technical support staff.” So we have a semicolon here, indicating that we should have two independent clauses. But the second independent clause lacks a subject–It doesn’t say who or what will work with the technical support staff.

And so when it comes to some of these more complex sentences, we often have multiple options for how to revise them. In this case, we could make it a simple sentence just by eliminating the semicolon: “The manager announced a new job position to work with the technical support staff.” So that’s a perfectly good option for revising that sentence. We could also add a little more information and make it a compound sentence: “The manager announced a new job position; the new employee will work with the technical support staff.”

So just remember as you are revising sentences, it’s very rare that there’s only one way to fix something. Often you can adjust the wording, add or subtract words, change punctuation, and revise it in, in various ways.

“A task force to study potential causes for the rising rates of diabetes, and members will work with the community to seek a solution.” So we have possibly two clauses here, but right now we have it combined. And the first one lacks a verb associated with the subject. So we have “a task force”, we have more information explaining kind of what the task force is like, but we don’t really have a verb saying what the task force did.

So, again, we have options as to how to revise this. But here are a couple of correct options to follow the guidelines that we’ve been discussing.

In a compound sentence it could be, “A task force has convened to study the potential causes for rising rates of diabetes, and members will work with the community to seek a solution.” So we have “a task force has convened”, we added that verb there, and “members will work”, so again we have two subjects and then the verbs that start the predicate. Another option is to kind of rearrange the sentence so that it can be a simple sentence: “Members of a task force to study potential causes for the rising rates of diabetes will work with the community to seek a solution.”

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3491699 ]

2.  Run-On Sentences


Common error #2, and this is an error that I see quite a bit when working with students, is run-on sentences. So run-on sentences include more than one simple sentence joined together improperly. And so, that’s the main key here is, mostly it’s all about punctuation.

So here’s one example of a run-on sentence. “I attended the conference last July I also was at the symposium in October.” So we have two complete sentences here: “I attended the conference last July” and “I was also at the symposium in October”, but there’s no punctuation between them.

So some people may revise this by adding a comma: “I attended the conference last July” comma, “I also was at the symposium in October.” However, a comma is really insufficient to combine two independent clauses. A comma is really just not strong enough to stand alone by itself to bring together two independent clauses. This is also an example we would call a comma splice if that’s something you ever hear.

So options that you have for this to revise, to make this correct, would be to adjust the punctuation or possibly add a word. And so I have the three examples here of ways to revise this run-on sentence. So the first example is to just add a period between the two of them. You have two independent clauses they can be their own independent sentences. Another option is to add a semicolon between them. And then the third option is to do that comma and coordinating conjunction. So comma “and”, in this case, so the comma kind of needs to work along with one of those coordinating conjunction to really be strong enough to connect those two independent clauses.

So many run-on sentences can pretty easily be revised, either into two to simple sentences or two a complex or compound sentence.

Here’s an example: “Employee morale has a big impact on productivity, because job satisfaction plays an important role in turnover, managers should evaluate the employee’s emotional needs.”

So here we have an independent clause, a dependent clause, and independent clause all connected by commas. And this just– it’s kind of unclear mixture. So we’re going to need to adjust the punctuation here.

I have a few examples in the revision examples box. The first one is to include a period. So we have our independent clause and dependent clause, and because the independent clause comes first, we don’t need a comma there, and then period and then the rest of the sentence. If you notice when you read the sentence, the initial example sentence, it’s kind of unclear whether the “because” clause should be connected to the first independent clause or the ending independent clause. And so, this is where, as a writer, you get to make that decision and show the reader where the ideas are connected.

So for example, in number 2, “Employee morale has a big impact on productivity” semicolon (;), so kind of a pause in the idea, “because job satisfaction plays an important role in turnover, managers should value the employees’ emotional needs.”

And then the third example is to use those coordinating conjunctions to show how these ideas are connected: “Employee morale has a big impact on productivity, and job satisfaction place an important role in turnover, so managers should value the employees’ emotional needs.” So you can really make those decisions about the punctuation and how you want to connect sentences in order to really communicate the specific idea that you’re trying to communicate. Whereas, if you use incorrect punctuation, it can actually cause a lot of clarity issues within sentences.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3491687 ]

3. Parallel Structure


All right. So common error #3 is parallel structure. And parallel structure means that in a list, all items must have the same grammatical form. For example, maybe I have a list where I need to begin each element of the list with the same verb tense or same part of speech. We’ll look at some examples.

So here’s an example of an error in parallel form. “Nora enjoys running, hike, and to camp.” So the verbs are in three different forms. We have the progressive, the “ING” form. We have the infinitive form, just “hike”, and then we have the two plus the base form or infinitive form. So we have three different forms of the verb. So in order to create parallel structure here, you need to revise this to say “Nora enjoys running, hiking and camping.” Or we can say “Nora likes to run, hike, and camp.” So we’d use that same structure, verb structure, throughout the list.

“I finished my paper and submit it to Blackboard.” So the issue here is that we have “finished” in the past tense, talking about something that I did in the past, and then “submit” is in the present tense. So that just gets a little bit confusing for the reader. Is it something that happened in the past? Are you talking about something that happens on a regular basis? It’s kind of unclear. So here we have a list with really only two items, “I finished and I submitted” in the same sentence, and so we want to make sure they agree, that they’re the same verb tense, word form.

And then this last one is a little bit, can be a little confusing: “I baked a cake, cookies, and made lasagna.” In this list, actually, we have two nouns and one verb. So, “I baked” and then the list includes “cake, cookies” and “made”. Here’s an example of how we could revise it: “I baked a cake and cookies and made lasagna.” So we can make this into a list with just two items: “I baked” and “I made,” and then the other information in the sentence is providing more information about what I baked and what I made. Another option might be to say “I made cake, cookies, and lasagna.” Or I, I could have baked all of them: “I baked cake, cookies, and lasagna.”

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3497220 ]

4. Subject-Verb Disagreement


So the next common error that we often see with simple sentences is with subject-verb disagreement. So this is where the subject and the verb disagree in terms of numbers. So if you — you might have a singular subject with a plural verb or a plural subject with a singular verb. These would be examples of subject-verb disagreement.

In the first example, we have “Twenty people has applied for the job.” So the first thing we want to do here is to determine the main subject, and then we want to determine the main verb.  We’ve got to find that main subject and find that main verb, and then we’re going to be able to make sure that our subject and verb agree with each other.  So in this sentence, we’ve got “Twenty people”, so “people” is our subject. And then our main verb here is “has,” right? So because “people” is our subject and “people” is plural, then we also have to make sure that “has” becomes plural.

And so to fix this one, I would say “Twenty people have applied for the job.” So “people” is plural, therefore “have” also needs to be plural. In this next example, this one gets a little bit more tricky because here we’ve got a complex subject, and we’ve got to be able to break it down and find the main part of that subject to figure out what part of that needs to agree with the verb. So here we have “Following pressure from peers often lead to teenagers engaging in risky behavior.”

So our subject here is “Following pressure from peers.” This entire thing is the subject. So we have a complex subject. And then we have the predicate “often lead to teenagers engaging in risky behavior.” That’s your predicate. But our main part of the subject is actually the word “following.” And because “following” is singular, then our verb needs to be singular as well.

So to fix this sentence, we’re going to want to say “Following pressure from peers often leads to teenagers engaging in risky behavior.” Again, our whole subject is “Following pressure from peers.” It’s a complex subject. But we’ve got to find the main part of that, and that’s “following.” So it’s singular.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3492707 ]

5. Unclear Subjects


Unclear subjects. So this is where we have a sentence that includes a confusing or a redundant subject.

The first example we have is “Asking for help this can be difficult for many students.” Well, in this case, we’ve got the subject that’s repeated. We’ve got “asking for help” and we have “this,” and that’s where it becomes a little bit confusing.

So to clarify this, we could just say “Asking for help can be difficult for many students.” We can get rid of the “this” because we don’t need a redundant subject, or we don’t need to repeat the subject, and then it will make sense.

In the second example, we got “By conducting research it has enabled me to learn more about effective leadership strategies.” So here again, this gets confusing because we’ve got “by conducting research it,” and the grammar here isn’t really working.

So we can simplify it, and we can just say “Conducting research has enabled me to learn more about effective leadership strategies.”

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3491611 ]


See also:

Types of Sentences
Simple Sentences
Compound Sentences
Complex Sentences
Combining Sentences

Combining Sentences


So, simple sentences are great. They’re very important in academic writing and all types of writing. And in academic writing, I encourage you to use simple sentences. However, using simple sentences all of the time would cause a couple of issues. Like I have on the slide here, too many short sentences in a row can seem choppy. It can also make the writing seem a little bit redundant. So, sometimes combining sentences can allow your writing to become more sophisticated and really be more engaging to the reader. It’ll also help you show some of the connections between ideas.

So I have an example of a, a few sentences together here. They’re all simple sentences: “I am often busy and tired. I struggle to meet my deadlines. I also struggle to fulfill my other obligations. I need to work on my time management skills.”

As I mentioned, it seems a little bit choppy, and notice how every sentence begins the same, “I am…I struggle…I also struggle…I need to work.” So it’s the same subject beginning every sentence, and it just seems a little bit redundant.

So, one way we could change this to make it maybe more sophisticated, show the relationships between ideas, and also just make it more engaging to the reader, is to kind of combine some of those sentences and add a little bit of information to help show the relationships between the ideas. So, in this case: “I’m often busy and tired, and I struggle to meet my deadlines. Because I also struggle to fulfill my other obligations, I need to work on my time management skills.”

So, notice how just a couple of commas and a couple of words really kind of help to bring the ideas together and show how the ideas are related.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3491608 ]

See also:

Types of Sentences
Simple Sentences
Compound Sentences
Complex Sentences
Common errors in structuring sentences

Complex Sentences


We’re going to talk about combining independent and dependent clauses to talk about complex sentences.

Independent clauses are complete sentences. They can function all by themselves. They could be their own sentence, but we can also combine them to make compound sentences.

Now, we’re going to bring in here, we’re going to talk about dependent clauses. Dependent clauses are also called sentence fragments and dependent clauses are — they have some of the same aspects as an independent clause. They typically have a — or in the cases we’ll talk about–they have a subject and a predicate, but they also have extra information and along the bottom here, I have a complete sentence needs (a) a subject, (b) a verb, and (c) a complete idea. So this says something I just mentioned before, but will come into play here.

So, as you can see, this first part of the sentence is a dependent clause because it cannot function independently as its own complete idea. If I just write, “because I am often very busy and tired”, and I stop it there, it does not indicate a complete idea, does not communicate a complete idea. It seems like there is something missing. And, so, that’s how dependent clauses are often a good, you know, a part of an idea that really needs extra information to be complete.

Dependent clauses often begin with subordinating conjunction. Another kind of big word or phrase that we use when we talk about grammar. It’s not 100%, like, necessary that you use the term subordinating conjunction, but at least understanding the idea will be important here. So, many, but not all, dependent clauses use them. They join a subordinate clause to a main clause and establish a relationship between the two. So these dependent clauses that begin with subordinating conjunctions, they begin with words like after, although, because, before, once, since, though. So, we can kind of pick them out of our sentences or out of our writing by looking for some of these words. And this is not an exhaustive list. There are many other subordinating conjunctions, but this is a list of a few that you will see probably on a regular basis. And subordinate means that the clause does not express a complete idea, even if it has that subject and the predicate.

So, we’ll look at a few more examples. So, our basic formula for a complex sentence is that we’re going to combine the, the independent clause, what we might call the main clause, or a simple sentence, we now have various kind of terms for this, but I’ll call it an independent clause, and combine it with a dependent clause, what we just talked about, those incomplete sentences that need extra information to make them complete.

And there are two main ways that we do that. We can use the dependent clause at the beginning, and it acts kind of like an introductory clause. Conversely, we can have the dependent clause at the end. So notice the structure in the introductory clause, it’s the dependent phrase or clause, comma, main clause or independent clause. So, two main structures, introductory, so the dependent clause is at the beginning, we have a comma, if the dependent clause is at the end, notice that there’s no comma needed. So that’s one of the main differences between the two, when we, when we put them in order, is that if the dependent clause starts the sentence, we need a comma.

So here’s an example. We have our dependent clause, “if the flight is on time”. Notice, like I said previously, that this does not communicate a complete idea. We need more information. If the flight is on time, what happens? You know, then what happens? So we need more information. And the independent clause, “Tim will get home tonight”. Notice that this could function as a complete sentence, if necessary, or in the right context.

So, by following our two formulas, we can put the dependent clause at the beginning, “if the flight is on time” comma, “Tim will get home tonight.” Or we can switch it around and say “Tim will get home tonight” — notice no comma needed – “if the flight is on time.”

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3491603 ]


See also:

Types of Sentences
Simple Sentences
Compound Sentences
Combining Sentences
Common errors in structuring sentences

Compound Sentences


Independent clauses are basically complete sentences. They are simple sentences. Now, we call them independent clauses, it’s just kind of another name for that structure. We’re just going to focus on independent clauses, which are those complete sentences.

So, here are a couple of examples: “I am often busy and tired. I struggle to meet my deadlines.”

They have a subject, a predicate, meaning a verb, and extra information, and a period at the end. They are complete ideas.

If we decide that it’s appropriate to combine independent clauses, there are a few ways to do it. The first one is to use a semicolon. So in this case, “I’m often very busy and tired; I struggle to meet my deadlines.” Rather than separating them into two separate sentences, I could use a semicolon to show that the ideas are connected into a compound sentence. Notice that I do not add any other words, no “and” or other words to the sentence. It’s not needed. A semicolon is a strong connector, so it doesn’t really need any other words or extra information to connect the ideas.

Notice here that I have an incorrect example of the semicolon. This sentence has an “and,” the one on the bottom, do not need the “and.” And also, just remember, a semicolon should really only be used to connect two sentences or two ideas that are very closely related. It would be inappropriate to use a semicolon to connect two independent clauses that are kind of unrelated where the meaning is unrelated.

Another option is to use a comma and a coordinating conjunction. So, coordinating conjunction, that might be a new phrase to some people. I’ll explain those as well. So, here’s my example again: “I’m often very busy and tired. I struggle to meet my deadlines.” Here’s an example where I used a comma and a coordinating conjunction. So, coordinating conjunctions are words like and, so, but, or. Those words work along with a comma to connect two independent clauses. So notice that the comma comes first after the first independent clause, and then we have the coordinating conjunction, in this case, “and,” and then the second independent clause.

Notice in the incorrect example that only a comma here is problematic. The comma’s not really, I guess, strong enough in this case to hold the two sentences together. This actually creates what we call a run-on sentence or a comma splice, meaning that there are two independent clauses connected by a comma but the comma is not strong enough on its own, it needs to work along with one of those coordinating conjunctions.

So here’s kind of the basic formula that you can use when combining compound sentences. On the formula, there are independent clauses on either side, and then the ways that you could connect them are by using a period, so, that would not be connecting them, but they would stand next to each other and they would be grammatically correct. You could use a semicolon. Or, you could use a comma and a coordinating conjunction, of course, choosing the coordinating conjunction that’s appropriate to show the relationship between the two ideas.

And I have all seven of the coordinating conjunctions listed here. If you read down, the first letter of each word, it spells out “FAN BOYS,” and that was kind of a little trick that I use to remember them when I learned about them, so if you ever kind of forget, what are those seven words that can function as coordinating conjunctions, think about the acronym “FAN BOYS,” and that might help you remember what they all are.

[Source: Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/c.php?g=465757&p=3491601 ]


See also:

Types of Sentences
Simple Sentences
Complex Sentences
Combining Sentences
Common errors in structuring sentences