Simple and Compound Sentences

May 22, 2021

Definition: A simple sentence has one independent clause.

The radio is blaring.
Your sneaker is under the couch.

A simple sentence may have a compound subject or a compound predicate.

The walrus and the sea lion live both on land and in the water.
The trains pass our street and stop at the station a mile away.

Definition: A compound sentence is made up of two independent clauses joined by a coordinating or correlative conjunction. The conjunction is not included when deciding if the clauses are independent.

The sunbathers relaxed on the sand, and the surfers paddled out to sea.
The sunbathers relaxed on the sand. (independent)
+ The surfers paddled out to sea. (independent)
= compound sentence

I ate breakfast, but my brother did not.
I ate breakfast. (independent)
+ My brother did not. (independent)
= compound sentence

The clauses in a compound sentence are joined together in three different ways: a comma with a coordinating conjunction; a semicolon; or a semicolon followed by a conjunctive adverb, which is followed by a comma.

The teacher gave the assignments, and the students wrote them down.
The teacher gave the assignments; the students wrote them down.

The accident had been cleared, but the traffic was still stopped.
The accident had been cleared; however, the traffic was still stopped.

Note: As writers become more proficient, they are allowed to omit the comma between two short independent clauses in a compound sentence. You will sometimes notice that in books you read.

The hero saved the princess and then he went home.