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Types Of Sentences
sentences: Simple, Compound, and Complex

Experienced writers use a variety of sentences to make their writing interesting and
lively. Too many simple sentences, for example, will sound choppy and immature while
too many long sentences will be difficult to read and hard to understand.

This page contains definitions of simple, compound, and complex sentences with many
simple examples. The purpose of these examples is to help the ESL/EFL learner to
identify sentence basics including identification of sentences in the short quizzes that
follow. After that, it will be possible to analyze more complex sentence varieties.

Simple Sentence

A simple sentence, also called an independent clause, contains a subject and a verb, and it
expresses a complete thought. In the following simple sentences, subjects are in yellow,
and verbs are in green.

1. Some students like to study in the mornings.

2. Juan and Arturo play football every afternoon.
3. Alicia goes to the library and studies every day.

The three examples above are all simple sentences. Note that sentence 2 contains a
compound subject, and sentence 3 contains a compound verb. Simple sentences,
therefore, contain a subject and verb and express a complete thought, but they can also
contain compound subjects or verbs.

Compound Sentence

A compound sentence contains two independent clauses joined by a coordinator. The

coordinators are as follows: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. (Helpful hint: The first letter of
each of the coordinators spells FANBOYS.) Except for very short sentences, coordinators
are always preceded by a comma. In the following compound sentences, subjects are in
yellow, verbs are in green, and the coordinators and the commas that precede them are in

1. I tried to speak Spanish, and my friend tried to speak English.

2. Alejandro played football, so Maria went shopping.
3. Alejandro played football, for Maria went shopping.

The above three sentences are compound sentences. Each sentence contains two
independent clauses, and they are joined by a coordinator with a comma preceding it.
Note how the conscious use of coordinators can change the meaningof the sentences.
Sentences 2 and 3, for example, are identical except for the coordinators. In sentence 2,
which action occurred first? Obviously, "Alejandro played football" first, and as a
consequence, "Maria went shopping." In sentence 3, "Maria went shopping" first. In
sentence 3, "Alejandro played football" because, possibly, he didn't have anything else to
do, for or because "Maria went shopping." How can the use of other coordinators change
the relationship between the two clauses? What implications would the use of "yet" or
"but" have on the meaning of the sentence?
Complex Sentence

A True Story

Some students believe it is possible to identify simple, compound, and complex sentences
by looking at the complexity of the ideas in a sentence. Is the idea in the sentence simple,
or is it complex? Does one idea in a sentence make it simple? Do two ideas make it
compound? However, sentence identification does not work that way.

Please take the time to identify the subjects and verbs in a sentence. Then identify
coordinators and subordinators when they exist. With these two steps, sentence
identification not only becomes easy, but it also provides the foundation for
understanding and writing all other kinds of more complicated sentences.

A complex sentence has an independent clause joined by one or more dependent clauses.
A complex sentence always has a subordinator such as because, since, after, although, or
when (and many others) or a relative pronoun such as that, who, or which. In the
following complex sentences, subjects are in yellow, verbs are in green, and the
subordinators and their commas (when required) are in red.

1. When he handed in his homework, he forgot to give the teacher

the last page.
2. The teacher returned the homework after she noticed the error.
3. The students are studying because they have a test tomorrow.
4. After they finished studying, Juan and Maria went to the movies
5. Juan and Maria went to the movies after they finished studying.

When a complex sentence begins with a subordinator such as sentences 1 and 4, a comma
is required at the end of the dependent clause. When the independent clause begins the
sentence with subordinators in the middle as in sentences 2, 3, and 5, no comma is
required. If a comma is placed before the subordinators in sentences 2, 3, and 5, it is

Note that sentences 4 and 5 are the same except sentence 4 begins with the dependent
clause which is followed by a comma, and sentence 5 begins with the independent clause
which contains no comma. The comma after the dependent clause in sentence 4 is
required, and experienced listeners of English will often hear a slight pause there. In
sentence 5, however, there will be no pause when the independent clause begins the

Complex Sentences / Adjective Clauses

Finally, sentences containing adjective clauses (or dependent clauses) are also complex
because they contain an independent clause and a dependent clause. The subjects, verbs,
and subordinators are marked the same as in the previous sentences, and in these
sentences, the independent clauses are also underlined.

1. The woman who called my mom sells cosmetics.

2. The book that Jonathan read is on the shelf.
3. The house which Abraham Lincoln was born in is still standing.
4. The town where I grew up is in the United States.

Adjective Clauses are studied in this site separately, but for now it is important to know
that sentences containing adjective clauses are complex.
B. Gerunds and Infinitives Part 1
1. A gerund is a noun made from a verb by adding "-ing." The gerund form of the verb
"read" is "reading." You can use a gerund as the subject, the complement, or the object of
a sentence.


- Reading helps you learn English. subject of sentence

- Her favorite hobby is reading. complement of sentence
- I enjoy reading. object of sentence

Gerunds can be made negative by adding "not."


- He enjoys not working.

- The best thing for your health is not smoking.

2. Infinitives are the "to" form of the verb. The infinitive form of "learn" is "to learn."
You can also use an infinitive as the subject, the complement, or the object of a sentence.


- To learn is important. subject of sentence

- The most important thing is to learn. complement of sentence
- He wants to learn. object of sentence

Infinitives can be made negative by adding "not."


- I decided not to go.

- The most important thing is not to give up.

3. Both gerunds and infinitives can be used as the subject or the complement of a
sentence. However, as subjects or complements, gerunds usually sound more like normal,
spoken English, whereas infinitives sound more abstract. In the following sentences,
gerunds sound more natural and would be more common in everyday English. Infinitives
emphasize the possibility or potential for something and sound more philosophical. If this
sounds confusing, just remember that 90% of the time, you will use a gerund as the
subject or complement of a sentence.


- Learning is important. normal subject

- To learn is important. abstract subject - less common
- The most important thing is learning. normal complement
- The most important thing is to learn. abstract complement - less common

4. As the object of a sentence, it is more difficult to choose between a gerund or an

infinitive. In such situations, gerunds and infinitives are not normally interchangeable.
Usually, the main verb in the sentence determines whether you use a gerund or an


- He enjoys swimming. "Enjoy" requires a gerund.

- He wants to swim. "Want" requires an infinitive.
5. Some verbs are followed by gerunds as objects. List of Verbs Followed by Gerunds


- She suggested going to a movie.

- Mary keeps talking about her problems.

6. Some verbs are followed by infinitives. List of Verbs Followed by Infinitives


- She wants to go to a movie.

- Mary needs to talk about her problems

C.Pengertian, Rumus dan Contoh Kalimat Causative Verb

Causative verb adalah kata kerja yang digunakan untuk menunjukkan bahwa subject tidak
bertanggungjawab langsung terhadap aksi yang terjadi melainkan seseorang atau sesuatu
yang lain yang melakukan aksi tersebut.

Fungsi & Rumus Causative Verbs

 Kalimat causative verb terbagi menjadi 2 macam, yaitu active (aktif) dan passive
(pasif). Pada kalimat active causative verb, agent yang mengerjakan aksi diketahui.
Sebaliknya, pada kalimat passive causative verb, agent biasanya tidak disebutkan.
 Let, make, have, & get merupakan causative verb yang umum digunakan, ada yang
menggunakan action verb berupa bare infinitive (infinitive without to) dan ada pula yang
to infinitive.

Adapun fungsi dan rumus secara umum sebagai berikut.

Verb Fungsi Rumus Active & Passive Causative

membiarkan seseorang melakukan
Let S + let + agent + action verb (bare infinitive) +

memaksa atau sangat menyakinkan
Make S + (make-made) + agent + action verb (bare
seseorang untuk melakukan sesuatu
infinitive) + …
S + (have-had) + agent + action verb (bare
menginginkan seseorang mengerjakan infinitive) + object
sesuatu untuk subjek
S + (have-had) + object + action verb (V-3)
S + (get-got) + agent + action verb (to
mirip dengan have namun dengan infinitive) + …
struktur kalimat yang berbeda
S + (got) + object + action verb (V-3)
Contoh Causative Verbs: Active dan Passive

Beberapa contoh causative verb pada struktur active maupun passive adalah sebagai

Rumus Verbs Contoh Causative Verbs

Lala had her friend take her result test.
The student had the teacher speak slowly.
She got her parents to buy her a tennis racket.
The boy got his cat to chase a mouse.
Active Causative Verbs The woman made her daughter eat up the
make-made tomatoes.
The manager makes her staff work hard.
My father lets me choose my own future carrier.
The shepherd lets his sheep graze in the meadow.
I had my house renovated last week.
Passive Causative He had his book returned as soon as possible.
Verbs Teddy got the money saved in the bank.
Yulia got her bedroom cleaned.

Conditional Sentences are also known as Conditional Clauses or If Clauses. They are
used to express that the action in the main clause (without if) can only take place if a
certain condition (in the clause with if) is fulfilled. There are three types of Conditional

D. Conditional Sentence Type 1

→ It is possible and also very likely that the condition will be fulfilled.

Form: if + Simple Present, will-Future

Simple present is also called present simple.

The simple present expresses an action in the present taking place once, never or several
times. It is also used for actions that take place one after another and for actions that are
set by a timetable or schedule. The simple present also expresses facts in the present.

Example: If I find her address, I’ll send her an invitation.

If Clause Type 1


if + Simple Present, will-Future

Example: If I find her address, I will send her an invitation.

The main clause can also be at the beginning of the sentence. In this case, don't use a
Example: I will send her an invitation if I find her address.

Note: Main clause and / or if clause might be negative. See Simple Present und will-
Future on how to form negative sentences.

Example: If I don’t see him this afternoon, I will phone him in the evening.


Conditional Sentences Type I refer to the future. An action in the future will only happen
if a certain condition is fulfilled by that time. We don't know for sure whether the
condition actually will be fulfilled or not, but the conditions seems rather realistic – so we
think it is likely to happen.

Example: If I find her address, I’ll send her an invitation.

I want to send an invitation to a friend. I just have to find her address. I am quite sure,
however, that I will find it.

Example: If John has the money, he will buy a Ferrari.

I know John very well and I know that he earns a lot of money and that he loves Ferraris.
So I think it is very likely that sooner or later he will have the money to buy a Ferrari.


 Exercise on IF Clauses Type I

 Exercise 2 on IF Clauses Type I

Conditional Sentence Type 2

→ It is possible but very unlikely, that the condition will be fulfilled.

Form: if + Simple Past, Conditional I (= would + Infinitive)

Example: If I found her address, I would send her an invitation.

Exceptions for Conditional Sentences

So far you have only learned the basic rules for Conditional Sentences. It depends on the
context, however, which tense to use. So sometimes it's possible for example that in an IF
Clause Type I another tense than Simple Present is used, e.g. Present Progressive or
Present Perfect.

Conditional Sentences Type I (likely)

IF Clause Main Clause
refers to:

Future I …I will buy it.

Simple If the book is Imperative …buy it.

future action
Present interesting, …
…you can buy it.

Present …I will wake him

action going on now If he is snoring, … Future I
Progressive up.
IF Clause Main Clause
refers to:

Imperative …wake him up.

Modal …you can wake

Auxiliary him up.

…we will visit

Future I
Present If he has moved into
finished action Imperative …visit him.
Perfect his new flat, …
…we can visit him.

…I will
Future I
congratulate her.
should + If she should win this
improbable action Imperative …congratulate her.
Infinitive race, …
Modal …we can
Auxiliary congratulate her.

Simple If he gets what he Simple

present facts …he is very nice.
Present wants, … Present

Conditional Sentences Type II (unlikely)

IF Clause Main Clause
refers to:

Simple If I had a lot of …I would travel around

present / future event Conditional I
Past money, … the world.

Simple Conditional …I would have said

consequence in the past If I knew him, …
Past II hello.

Conditional Sentences Type II (impossible)

Condition refers
IF Clause Main Clause

Past …I would not be here

present If I had known it, … Conditional I
Perfect now.

Past If he had learned for Conditional …he would not have

Perfect the test, … II failed it.

Conditional Sentence Type 3

→ It is impossible that the condition will be fulfilled because it refers to the past.

Form: if + Past Perfect, Conditional II (= would + have + Past Participle)

Example: If I had found her address, I would have sent her an invitation.