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simple sentence

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simple sentence

A series of three simple sentences by Ella Baker, quoted by Janus Adams in Sister Days: 365 Inspired Moments in African American Women's History (Wiley, 2000)

Definition:

A sentence with only one independent clause (also known as a main clause).

The simple sentence is one of the four basic sentence structures. The other structures are the compound sentence, the complex sentence, and the compound-complex sentence.

 

See also:

 

Examples:

  • "Children are all foreigners."
    (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

  • "Mother died today."
    (Albert Camus, The Stranger, 1942)
     
  • "Of course, no man is entirely in his right mind at any time."
    (Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger)

  • "Early to rise and early to bed makes a male healthy and wealthy and dead."
    (James Thurber)

  • "I'd rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph."
    (Ken Kesey)

  • "Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise."
    (Alice Walker)

  • "I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them."
    (Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, 1939)

  • "Your future is assured. You will live, secure and safe, Wilbur. Nothing can harm you now. These autumn days will shorten and grow cold. The leaves will shake loose from the trees and fall."
    (E.B. White, Charlotte's Web. Harper & Row, 1952)

  • "They shot the six cabinet ministers at half-past six in the morning against the wall of a hospital. There were pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard. It rained hard. All the shutters of the hospital were nailed shut. One of the ministers was sick with typhoid. Two soldiers carried him downstairs and out into the rain."
    (Ernest Hemingway, Chapter Five of In Our Time. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925)
     
  • "Lord Emsworth adjusted his pince-nez and sought inspiration from the wall-paper."
    (P.G. Wodehouse, Something Fresh, 1915)

  • "Atheism is a non-prophet organization."
    (George Carlin)

     

Observations:

  • "With regard to simple sentences, it ought to be observed first, that there are degrees in simplicity. 'God made man,' is a very simple sentence. 'On the sixth day God made man of the dust of the earth after his own image,' is still a simple sentence in the sense of rhetoricians and critics, as it hath but one verb, but less simple than the former, on account of the circumstances specified."
    (George Campbell, The Philosophy of Rhetoric, 1776)

  • "A sentence is classified simple even when it has a compound subject or predicate (or both) and includes modifying words and phrases:
    • You and your friends can see the mountain on your next trip.
    • You can see the mountain and climb to the top.
    (R. DiYanni and P. C. Hoy II, Scribner Handbook for Writers. Allyn and Bacon, 2001)

  • "The syntactically most straightforward sentences have the form of a single clause . . .

    CLAUSAL SENTENCES (having the form of a clause)
    a. Kim is an actor.
    b. Pat is a teacher.
    c. Sam is an architect.

    In traditional grammar [these] examples are called 'simple sentences,' but we don't use this term; it covers only a subset of what we call clausal sentences."
    (R. Huddleston and G. K. Pullum, A Student's Introduction to English Grammar. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006)

 

Also Known As: clausal sentence

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