Once you have analyzed the syntactic structure of a sentence, especially its clause structures, you can also identify which of four possible sentence patterns the sentence exhibits.* Below are models of the four kinds. Knowing what sentence pattern you’re using can be very helpful when you’re trying to revise; it’s crucial in deciding on punctuation.
- Simple Sentence (one independent clause)
Jack and Jill went up the very steep hill to fetch a large pail of cold water, a dozen eggs, and a cake for their mother’s birthday.
Jack and Jill went up the hill.
- Compound Sentence (two or more independent clauses)
Jack went up the hill, and he fell down almost immediately.
Jack went up the hill; however, he fell down almost immediately.
Jack went up the hill; he fell down almost immediately.
- Complex Sentence (an independent clause and a dependent clause)
After Jack fell down the hill, he felt his head for injuries.
- Compound-complex Sentence (a combination of the compound and the complex structures)
After Jack fell down the hill, he felt his head for injuries, but he discovered that he had none.
*We should also note another group of four sentence patterns: declarative, interrogatory, imperative, and exclamatory. The last three are variations of the first.
Exercise: Identify the sentence pattern in each of the following examples and supply proper punctuation. Be prepared to explain the reasons for what you’ve supplied. Diagram 2, 4, 5, and 6.
- On top of Old Smokey I lost my true lover because he courted too slow.
- Thieves will rob you and take what you have but a false-hearted lover will send you to your grave.
- Never place your affection in a young willow tree.
- When we marched down to Fennario our captain fell in love with a lady like a dove.
- He turned his face to the wall and death was welling in him.
- The teacher says the school board is a fool.