How to Make Your Sentences Simple

When was the first time you were taught how to construct a grammatical argument? Most of us learn to construct sentences from simple three-word phrases : I like cats. He eats bread. Music is cool!

Simplify your text and make it conscise

    Does this sound familiar to you? One of the most basic types of simple sentences, three-word sentences, serves as a building block for constructing more complex sentences. Simple sentences, however, are not invariably three-word sentences.

    Here, we’ll explain what simple sentences are, the components of a simple sentence, and various methods for creating simple sentences.

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    Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

    Understanding Simple Sentences

    What Exactly are Simple Sentences?

    A simple sentence consists of a single clause, or more precisely, an independent clause, with a subject and a predicate.

    How do we make the sentence simple? A simple sentence consists of a subject, verb, and object (SVO) and expresses an entire thought; however, as a simple predicate is a single verb or verb phrase, a simple sentence can also consist of just a subject and verb (SV).

    Subject + Verb + Object (SVO)

    • Jude drank water.

    Subject + Verb (SV)

    • Jude drank.

    Both of these instances are grammatically correct basic statements, but adding an object clarifies the overall meaning.

    Contrary to their name, to make the sentence simple may involve complex concepts. Let’s examine using modifiers, compound subjects, and compound subjects and predicates in simple sentences.

    What are Modifiers in Simple Sentences?

    A modifier is a word or phrase that can be inserted into a simple sentence to provide more context or explanation. Using the short sentence above, let’s see how we can modify it.

    • Jude drank water.

    Using Articles/Adjectives as Modifiers

    • The thirsty Jude drank a lot of water.

    Using Adverbs as Modifiers

    • The thirsty Jude hurriedly drank a lot of water.

    Using Prepositional Phrase as a Modifier

    • The thirsty Jude hurriedly drank a lot of water after the long-distance walk.

    These examples are still simple sentences because each clause stands on its own and says a complete thought.

    Helpful Hint: Think about how a modifier changes the sentence’s meaning.

    Simple Sentences with Compound Subjects

    Two or more nouns or pronouns that share the same verb make up a compound subject. Coordinate or correlative conjunctions are used to link them together.

    The Use of Coordinate Conjunctions in Compound Subjects

    • Jude and Julie drank water.
    • Jude or Julie drank water.
    • Jude, Julie, and Jack drank water.

    The Use of Correlative Conjunctions in Compound Subjects

    • Both Jude and Julie drank water.
    • Neither Jude nor Julie drank water

    Even though these examples have two or more simple subjects, each is a separate clause that tells a complete thought. Hence, they are still considered simple sentences.

     Simple Sentences with Compound Verbs/Predicates

    Compound verbs, also known as compound predicates, comprise two or more verbs or predicates that share the same subject. 

    This can be represented as a subject executing several verbs (simple predicates) or performing multiple complete predicates. Conjunction connects the compound verbs/predicates.

    Compound Verbs/Simple Predicates

    • Jude iced and drank water.
    • Jude washed and rinsed the cup.

    Compound Predicates

    • Jude drank water and rinsed out the cup.
    • Jude iced water and washed the cup.

    Again, these are all distinct clauses that represent a complete thought. A sentence can be simple even if it contains numerous verbs.

    How to Use Simple Sentences

    1. SVO Organization

    While it is assumed that a simple sentence will contain a subject, verb, and object, this does not always indicate that the subject will be the first word in the phrase.

    When we place elements of the predicate at the beginning of the phrase or when we ask a question, the usual SVO organization of a simple sentence changes.

    Placing a Part of the Predicate Before the Subject

    When the predicate, or verb + object section of the sentence comprises a prepositional phrase or an adverb, it may occur at the beginning of the sentence, followed by a comma. Examine the following examples of standard and altered sentence structures.

    Prepositional Phrase:

    • I completed my house chores after school.
    • After school, I completed my house chores.

    Adverb:

    • I ran hastily to the market.
    • Hastily, I ran to the market.

    2. Interrogative Sentences

    Interrogative sentences are sentences that ask a question, and they are typically simple sentences. The primary verb or a component of the verb phrase may be the starting point for some questions. To illustrate how the verb is used in both a question and a statement, look at the examples below.

    • Will it work tomorrow?
    • It will work tomorrow.
    • Has the election been postponed?
    • The election has been postponed.
    • Were you ill today?
    • You were ill today.

    3. Eliminate Disjointed and Choppy Sentences

    Remember that the first form of sentence we learn to write are basic simple sentences. Therefore, it is probably safe to say that writing in three- or four-word sentences is not the greatest approach. Too many simple sentences in close proximity can sound disjointed and choppy. Always revise your work to determine where simple statements might be changed to generate more complex writing.

    Combine Simple Sentences

    If you have written a series of extremely simple sentences, you can likely combine some of them into compound sentences.

    Chopped Sentence:

    • She loves playing table tennis. She first played table tennis in grade 2. She joined the table tennis team in middle school.

    Revised Sentence:

    • She loves table tennis and played in grade 2 before joining the table tennis team in middle school.

    4. Use Modifiers

    There is nothing wrong with employing simple sentences in your writing; but, you may (and should) utilize modifiers to improve simple sentences whenever possible.

    Basic Simple Sentence:

    • I visited London.

    Revised Sentence:

    • On my vacation to London, I visited Buckingham Palace.

    Conclusion

    Simple sentences are the easiest way to write clear and concise paragraphs. These sentences are straightforward and make it easier for your reader to understand what you are trying to say.

    So it’s best to use simple sentences to take away any confusion or complication when writing.

    How to Make Your Sentences Simple

    Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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