Types of sentences and sentence structures

Improve your writing by using different sentence types and structures.

Carla Greenwood

January 29, 2024

Types of sentences and sentence structures

Improve your writing by using different sentence types and structures.

Carla Greenwood

Jan 29, 2024

Types of sentences and sentence structures

Improve your writing by using different sentence types and structures.

Carla Greenwood

Jan 29, 2024

Key takeaways

  • Vary your sentences – Using a variety of sentence types and sentence structures can make a paragraph more exciting to read.
  • The most common sentence type is statements – Other types of sentences include questions, commands, and exclamations. 
  • There are three main types of sentence structures – Sentence structure types are defined by the use of independent and dependent clauses, as well as conjunctions and subordinators.

Children are taught to vary word choice in their writing. For example, instead of saying “She looks nice,” they might say she looks beautiful, lovely, elegant, or stunning. 

However, this isn’t the only way to add variation to your writing.

Sentence structure is another important addition to your writing toolbox. You can create more engaging paragraphs by varying the length and style of your sentences. 

In this article, we explore the different types and structures of sentences and show you how to use them to improve the readability of your writing.

What exactly is a sentence?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a sentence is a group of words that expresses a thought in the form of a statement, instruction, exclamation, or question. 

A sentence always starts with a capital letter and ends with an end mark. The three end marks in the English language are the period (full stop), question mark and exclamation mark. 

The four types of sentences

There are four main types of sentences you can use in your writing. These are:


The purpose of a statement sentence is to make a statement, declaration, or express an opinion. It’s the most basic type of sentence commonly used in the English language.

Below are some examples of statement sentences:

  • I have a dog.
  • She walks to school every day.
  • This article contains at least 1,000 words. 


A question sentence asks a question. They are often used to find out or offer information, and seek recommendations or permission. Question sentences always end with a question mark.

Some examples of question sentences are:

  • Can I borrow your notes?
  • How many students are there in the class?
  • Do you want to go to the cinema or the park?
  • Why did you not come out to play yesterday?


Command sentences give a command or request to the reader directly. These types of sentences often end in a full stop, but they can end with an exclamation mark if the request is urgent.

Examples of command sentences include:

  • Lock the door before you leave the house.
  • Don’t touch my phone.
  • Never forget that I love you.
  • Don’t run out in front of that car!


An exclamation sentence is used to express sudden or strong emotions. This type of sentence always ends with an exclamation mark.

For example:

  • You were amazing!
  • I loved that movie so much!
  • He gets it wrong every time!
  • I can’t believe we did that!

Different types of sentence structures

As well as varying types of sentences, you can also play around with different sentence structures.

The main types of sentence structure are:

Simple sentences

Simple sentences contain just one independent clause — that’s it! They are generally made up of a subject (a person or object) and a predicate (a verb or verbal phrase that describes an action). Simple sentences don’t contain any dependent clauses.

For example:

  • The girl bought an ice cream. (Subject = ‘girl’, verb = ‘bought’)
  • The train arrived on time. (Subject = ‘train’, verb = ‘arrived’)
  • Mum went to the shops. (Subject = ‘Mum’, verb = ‘went’)

However, simple sentences can also have more than one subject and/or verb.

For example: 

  • Maddie and Elsa will meet us at the stadium. (Subjects = ‘Maddie’ and ‘Elsa’, verbs = ‘will meet’)
  • James taught himself how to play the piano. (Subject = ‘James’, verbs = ‘taught’ and ‘play’)

The best way to work out if you are looking at a simple sentence is to determine if a dependent clause is present (a thought that can’t act as a standalone). 

For example:

  • Simple sentence: James taught himself how to play the piano.
  • Not a simple sentence: James wanted to learn the piano, so he taught himself. (“So he taught himself” doesn’t make sense as a sentence on its own, so it’s classed as a dependent clause).

Compound sentences

A compound sentence joins two or more independent clauses in a single sentence. Clauses can be connected by using either a comma and a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon. 

For example:

  • It was snowing heavily, so he decided to stay at home.
  • The clown frightened the young girl, and she ran off screaming.
  • They couldn’t make it back by dark; therefore, they chose to camp for the night.
  • Check back tomorrow; I will see if the book has arrived.

Complex sentences

Complex sentences contain one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. A comma should be used when a dependent clause comes before the independent clause in a sentence. If it comes after the independent clause, then no comma is needed.

Here’s a visual representation of how complex sentences are formed:

  • Complex sentence = [main clause] + [connective] + [subordinate clause]

Below are some examples of complex sentences:

  • While I enjoy pop music, I prefer classical because I play the violin.
  • She went to class even though she was feeling ill.
  • As Mark arrived at work, he realised he forgot to pack his lunch.
  • Having a party is a bad idea because the neighbours will complain.

Helpful tips on varying sentence length

Just because you have learned how to use longer, more complex sentences, doesn’t mean you should use them all the time. Too many long sentences can confuse readers and prevent them from engaging with your ideas. 

On the other hand, too many short, simple sentences will make your writing sound choppy and prevent your readers from understanding the relationships between sentences.

A combination of sentence lengths is the best way to create flowing paragraphs that are easy to read and understand.

Explore types of sentences and sentence structures with DoodleEnglish

DoodleEnglish is an app that’s filled with thousands of fun, interactive exercises covering grammar, punctuation, spelling and more!

Designed by teachers, it creates each child a unique work programme tailored to their needs, boosting their confidence and skills in English. Try it for free today!

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FAQs about types of sentences and sentence structures

A question is an interrogative sentence because you are asking for information, permission, or a recommendation. Interrogative sentences always end with a question mark. 

A sentence that combines two independent clauses (complete thoughts) is called a compound sentence. The independent clauses can be connected by a conjunctive or a semicolon. 

For example:

  • She doesn’t like apples, but she loves bananas.
  • He has a dog, yet he wants a cat too.

A compound sentence connects two independent clauses (complete thoughts) in one sentence. However, a complex sentence combines one independent clause with one or more dependent clauses (incomplete thoughts). 

For example:

  • Compound sentence: Alex went to the shops, but Sophie stayed home. (“Alex went to the shop” and “Sophie stayed at home” both work as separate sentences or independent clauses)
  • Complex sentence: When she arrived at the airport, the plane had already taken off. (“The plane had already taken off” is an independent clause. The phrase “When she arrived at the airport” doesn’t work as a sentence on its own, so it’s a dependent clause.) 

There are many different types of clauses but they can all be grouped into independent or dependent clauses. An independent clause works on its own as a complete sentence, whereas a dependent clause doesn’t make sense without the addition of an independent clause. The variation of clauses you use will depend on how you want to structure your sentences. 

Screenshot 2023-10-13 at 16.29.14

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