The most basic type of sentence is a simple sentence. Simple sentences must have one clause, a subject, and a predicate. Although simple sentences are often short, they can be longer if they have additional detail and description.
What Makes a Sentence Simple?
A simple sentence is not just a sentence that isn’t complicated. It isn’t simple because of the topic or the length. A simple sentence is a specific type of sentence that must have a subject, predicate and a complete thought.
The subject is what the sentence is about or who/what does the action. Usually a subject is a noun or pronoun. The predicate is a part of the sentence that contains a verb, or an action; it can also be a linking verb that connects the subject to another noun or adjective. Common linking verbs are the forms of ‘to be’ (am, is, are, was, were).A simple sentence is an independent clause, meaning it stands alone.
Simple sentences may be short, but they can be longer if they have compound subjects, verbs, and prepositional phrases. However, a simple sentence cannot have a dependent clause. Here are some short simple sentences:
- John ate the cake.
- Suri is happy.
- The surprise is inside the box.
- The dog jumped over the log.
- We talked.
Not So Simple Parts
When sentences are short it can be easy to tell that they are simple. They might only have a couple words: a subject and a verb. But it is possible to have much longer simple sentences by adding adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases. Check on these longer examples of simple sentences. The subject and verb are in italics.
Notice that the subject and the verb are the most important part of the sentence. You can take away the extra words, and your sentence still makes sense.
- After dinner, Dan and Rachel walked to the beach.
In this example there is a compound subject (Dan and Rachel) and just one verb, but it is still a simple sentence.
- The kids swam, jumped, and ran all afternoon.
Now this sentence has a simple subject (kids) with a compound verb (swam, jumped, and ran).
- Maureen wore a long, black dress to the formal on Saturday.
- My mom and dad met on their first day of college.
Examples and Non-Examples
To understand what a simple sentence is, it can be helpful to see some examples of sentences that are NOT simple. Check out the following examples of sentences that are not simple:1.
After they ate breakfast, Meg and Tom went for a run.2. Chase went for a swim and Luke played basketball.3.
Molly waited to order because her husband was running late.Each of the above sentences can be turned into two simple sentences:1. They ate breakfast. Then Meg and Tom went for a run.2. Chase went for a swim. Luke played basketball.
3. Molly waited to order. Her husband was running late.Be sure not to confuse incomplete sentences for simple sentences. The following are examples of fragments that are not complete, simple sentences:
- Because he ran.
This is not a complete thought. Even though there is a subject (he) and a verb (ran), it is not a simple sentence because it does not make sense on its own.
- Playing and laughing outside.
Here, the sentence is missing a subject but has a verb, so it cannot be a simple sentence.
- James, Lily, and the beautiful Serena.
This is not a simple sentence because there is not verb to complete the thought.Let’s add to those examples and turn them into simple, complete sentences:
- He ran on the track.
- The triplets are playing and laughing outside.
- James, Lily, and the beautiful Serena set off on the cruise.
Simple sentences are sentences that have a subject, predicate, and a complete thought. They must be able to stand alone and make sense.
A simple sentence can have a compound subject and a compound verb, as well as adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases.