Types of Sentences

29 March 2024

Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we answer a question from a reader in Burma, also known as Myanmar.


Dear teacher

I am from Burma. I read the following sentence from a book.

In Norway, there's an art museum for children's art.

The book mentioned it is a complex sentence. I am wondering if it's right or not. Please tell me.

Thank you! I wish you all the best!

Your loyal reader

Kyaw Zin Oo


Thank you for writing, Kyaw. Before we answer your question, we need to review some terms and their meanings.

A clause is a grammar unit organized around a verb phrase. A clause is made of two parts: a subject (the topic of a clause) and a verb (what is said about the topic).

For example, "we laughed" is a clause. "We" is the subject, and "laughed" is the verb.

"In the morning" is not a clause because it does not have a verb.

There are two main kinds of clauses. Independent clauses are not dependent on any other clause. They are sentences on their own. "We laughed" is an independent clause.

A dependent clause depends on an independent clause. It cannot be a sentence on its own. "Before I went," for example, is a dependent clause because, although it has a subject and a verb, it requires additional information to be a full thought.

We can sort sentences into three groups by the clauses they have. A sentence must have at least one independent clause. The independent clause is a simple sentence. For example:

It snowed last night.

When a sentence has two or more independent clauses, it is a compound sentence. For example:

I went to the party, but he stayed home.

When a sentence has at least one independent clause as well as one or more dependent clauses, it is a complex sentence. For example:

I'll call you when I get home.

Now, to answer your question, Kyaw! Your example has only one clause. This means it is a simple sentence, not a complex sentence.

There are seven simple sentence patterns in English, but we can talk about those another day.

We hope this explanation has helped you, Kyaw.

Do you have a question about American English? Send us an email at learningenglish@voanews.com.

And that's Ask a Teacher.

I'm Gena Bennett.

Gena Bennett wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

mentionv. to briefly talk about a subject

unitn. an amount of something; one thing

phrasen. a group of words that form an idea but that do not contain a subject or verb

topicn. a subject or idea

patternn. the repeated way something happens most of the time