simple sentence

A simple sentence (or independent clause) is a word group that contains a subject and a verb and forms a complete thought:

  • The girls rowed past the dock.

In this example, girls is the subject, rowed is the verb, and the entire word group forms a complete thought—that is, it makes sense by itself.

Simple sentence structures

The examples below show the many different structures that can appear in a simple sentence:

  • 1 subject, 1 verb: The girls rowed past the dock.
  • 2 subjects, 1 verb: Sarah and Tiffany raised the sail.
  • 1 subject, 2 verbs: The wind had fallen but was rising quickly by late afternoon.
  • 2 subjects, 2 verbs: Gulls and terns circled overhead or floated on the water.
  • Verb before subject for effect: Across the waves to the island sped the boat.
  • Verb before subject in a question: Was the island inhabited?
  • Verb before and after subject in a question: Had anyone gone there before?
  • There + verb before subject: There are no people on the island.
  • Here + verb before subject: Here is a small harbour.
  • Command verb with subject you omitted: Lower the sail. Row to shore.


Simple sentences are grammatically correct, but too many can make your writing less interesting. Use them sparingly, therefore.

A few well-placed simple sentences can create a stylistic effect when combined with longer compound and complex sentences. In the following passage, the two simple sentences at the end emphasize the speed of events and the sudden danger:

  • The storm broke with a fury before they could reach shelter. Slipping and stumbling on the muddy ground, they dragged the canoe farther up the shore; then, wet and exhausted, they battled their way to the cabin. Suddenly, lightning struck. The roof was on fire!

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