A sentence is a group of words that express a complete idea. All sentences must contain a subject (the who or the what in the sentence) and a predicate (the action or state of being in the sentence, the verb).
In this guide, you’ll learn about sentence basics, the types of sentences, the mechanics of a sentence, and common mistakes students make when writing sentences.
All sentences start with a capital letter.
Sentences can end with various punctuation marks: period (.), question mark (?), or exclamation point (!).
Sentences can also end in a semi-colon (;). Typically writers use semi-colons to show relationship between two sentences. A semi-colon is like a ‘soft stop’ for a reader, where a period, question mark, or exclamation points are a ‘hard stop,’ which signals to the reader that there’s less of a relationship between the two sentences.
Two sentences can be combined using a conjunction (and, but, or) and a comma to form a compound sentence.
All sentences must have a subject + predicate (a verb).
Groups of words can either be a phrase or a clause. A phrase is a group of words that is missing either a subject or a verb, and a clause is a group of words that contains both a subject and a verb.
There are two types of clauses: independent clauses and dependent clauses. An independent clause (otherwise known as a sentence) can stand on its own because it has a subject and a predicate that make a complete idea or thought, and a dependent clause needs to be connected to an independent clause to help the group of words make a complete thought or idea.
Phrase vs. Clause
Independent vs. Dependent Clauses
Identifying phrases or clauses
There are four types of sentences: simple, compound, complex, and complex-compound.
Many students make one of these common mistakes when writing sentences.
Run-on Sentence (sometimes called a fused sentence) and Comma Splices
A run-on sentence has two or more sentences jammed into a single sentence without the proper punctuation.
A comma splice sentence is a type of run-on sentence. It’s simply two sentences connected together with only a comma. A comma cannot connect two complete sentences together without a conjunction.
A fragment is a group of words that’s missing either a subject or predicate.