simple sentence

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a sentence having only one clause, as I saw her the day before yesterday.


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Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is a simple sentence?

A simple sentence is a sentence that contains a single independent clause.

In grammar, a clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a predicate. The subject is the word that indicates what a sentence is about or who or what is performing an action. A subject can be a noun (car, Tom), a noun phrase (short book, green apples), or a noun substitute (you, they). The predicate is a word that indicates what the subject is doing. A predicate is a verb (runs, is) and the words that govern or modify it (fast, hungry).

A simple sentence contains only a single clause that stands alone and makes grammatical sense. A simple sentence has only one subject and one predicate, as in Tom is hungry.

A simple sentence can also have a compound subject (two or more subjects doing the same action), a compound predicate (two or more actions being performed), and modifiers that describe the subject or predicate (such as adjectives, adverbs, and direct objects). Because it has only one clause, though, it is still a simple sentence.

Why are simple sentences important?

The first records of the phrase simple sentence come from around 1669. It combines the word simple, meaning “uncomplicated,” and sentence, meaning “a grammatical unit of words that expresses an independent idea.” Simple sentences are the most basic sentences you can use in English.

We use simple sentences frequently in English, especially to make an idea easier to understand. Understanding what simple sentences are will help you tackle more complicated sentence structures, such as compound sentences and complex sentences.

Did you know ... ?

Simple sentences don’t have to be short. They can be long, especially if you get creative with adjectives, as in The big, ugly, scraggly dog hungrily ate the half-full can of baked beans.

What are real-life examples of simple sentence?

This image gives examples of some different kinds of simple sentences you can make.

English Hints

We use simple sentences every day.

Quiz yourself!

Which of the following is NOT a simple sentence?

A. Fish swim.
B. Matt and Ashley ate cake.
C. I had seven kittens, but my brother adopted one.
D. Sit!

How to use simple sentence in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for simple sentence

simple sentence

a sentence consisting of a single main clauseCompare compound sentence, complex sentence
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for simple sentence

simple sentence

A sentence containing only one independent clause and no dependent clauses: “He went home after class.” (Compare complex sentence, compound sentence, and compound-complex sentence.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.