Sentence structure can make or break your writing. While you may be able to communicate perfectly when speaking, writing is a different skill and requires extra attention to structure. Poor sentence structure leads to awkward sounding sentences, childish and disjointed writing, or long confusing and difficult to read prose.
There are four types of sentences you should be aware of: simple, complex, compound, and compound-complex. Using a variety of these types in your writing will help make it flow and sound natural. Too many simple sentences risk making your writing childish and disjointed. However, if you only use long compound-complex sentences, your document will be difficult and confusing to read.
Simple: Contains one clause. This means it has a subject and predicate. E.g. Peter drove the car.
Complex: Contains two independent clauses which could be separate sentences. Clauses can be joined by ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘or’, and ‘so’. E.g. Peter drove the car, but Mark knew the way.
Compound: One independent clause + dependent clause(s). A dependent clause cannot be a sentence on its own and is joined to the independent clause with ‘because’, ‘that’, ‘if’ etc. E.g. Peter drove the car that Mark had bought.
Compound-complex: Contains two or more independent clauses plus a dependent clause.
In the next post we´ll discuss common errors with sentence structure.