The Simple Sentence

This post is a part of the essential toolkit of grammar knowledge I feel all kids should have. The following parts can be found here: the subject, the predicate, the simple sentence, the compound sentence, the complex sentence, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences.

The simple sentence is the simplest of sentences. One subject. One predicate. And one complete thought. Plus the requisite first word capital and closing punctuation. The simple sentence can be short, like, He sleeps. It also can be ponderously and pompously overwrought with redundant description.

You do have to be a little careful because some subjects or predicates are combined. Like this one, where I’ve underlined the predicate.

The Maple Leafs and Raptors have not seen a lot of success.

Notice that there is one subject, in the grammatical sense, even though there are two entities within it. How can you tell it’s a single subject? Well, replace it with a pronoun. Who has not seen a lot success? They have not seen a lot of success.

Now look at this sentence.

Abbu loves playing Minecraft and watching Bleach.

It’s still a simple sentence because there is only one subject, Abbu, and one verb, loves. Playing and watching both share loves.

Writing that just uses simple sentences is boring. We don’t want our students to remain at this stage in their writing. But if students can’t identify a simple sentence, they’ll likely be unable to repair a sentence fragment or a run-on sentence.

So here’s the simple formula for writing a simple sentence:

1 subject + 1 predicate

But we will want to add a slight modifier to our formula. Here’s an example that shows us why.

When I’m tired.

This has one subject I’m and one predicate tired, but that pesky when is killing the sentence. Try visualizing what it’s saying…You can’t. You want the sentence to continue, like this.

When I’m tired, I’ll drink some coffee.

This is no longer a simple sentence, but at least it’s a complete idea.

So let’s amend our formula and write:

1 subject + 1 predicate (plus a complete idea)

If you want to practice identifying simple sentences, try these exercises over at Khan Academy.

There you have it. Let’s move onto compound sentences.


Leave a Reply to To teach or not to teach sentence grammar: the implications for ELLs – Graham Noble Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.