Skip to main content

Sentence Structure

Simple Sentence Structure


Independent clause (subject + verb + what is needed for complete idea)


Jane  reads  the textbook. 

  • Jane is the subject.
  • reads is the verb.
  • the textbook completes the idea. 

Compound Sentence Structure

Compound sentences use coordinating conjunctions:

FANBOYS [F = for;  A = and;  N = nor;  B = but;  O = or;  Y = yet;  S = so]


Independent clause, + coordinating conjunction + independent clause.

*​Notice the comma after the first clause.


He could not attend the presentation,for he was studying that night.

The first patient has osteoporosis, and the second has diabetes.

I like learning new information, but I'm tired of studying now.

I'm hungry, so I'm going to make some dinner.

​Complex Sentence Structure

Complex sentences use subordinating conjunctions. WISEABOUT is an acronym to help you remember coordinating conjunctions.

W       when, whenever, wherever, whereas, whether, while

I         if

S        since, so that

E        even though

A        after, although, as

B       because, before

O       once

U       unless, until

T        though

Adding a subordinating conjunction to an independent clause changes the independent clause into a dependent clause.

There are two formulas for a complex sentence:

Formula #1

Independent clause +  dependent clause.


I am tired because I stayed up late last night.

*Notice that there is no comma when the dependent clause is at the end of the sentence.


Formula #2     

Dependent clause, independent clause.


Because I stayed up late last night, I am tired.​

*When the dependent clause is at the beginning of the sentence, add a comma before the independent clause.