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Academic Word List
Contrast and Comparison
logic of an argument
point of view
Stream of Conciousness
The process of writing
To start with, we should clarify the definition of Sentence.
Some would say, a sentence is just a bunch of words
cobined together. Well, I would not say so because words combined together could look like THIS ---
And it is anything but a complete sentence. Therefore, here are some of the definitions provided in the dictionaries.
According to Macmillan English-Chinese Dictionary for Advanced Learners, Sentence is 'a group of words, including a subject and a verb, that express a statement, question, or instruction'
According to Cambridge Dictionary Online, Sentence is
'a group of words, usually containing a verb, which expresses a thought in the form of a statement, question, instruction or exclamation and starts with a capital letter when written'
According to Oxford English Dictionary, Sentence is 'a series of words in connected speech or writing, forming the grammatically complete expression of a single thought'
As we searching through a variety of definitions of the word
, it is easy to conclude that a sentence is consisted of a group of words, including at least one subject and one indicate and arranged in grammatically correct order. And most importantly, a sentence should make sense, because the very function of a language is to get ideas crossed.
The definition of sentence form
is simple. It is the structure of a sentence, including part of the arrangement and the selection of words.
I quote what Edward Sapir, a German-born American anthropologist-linguist, said once, "All grammatical rules leak".
Therefore, In this article, I intend not to include much about the grammar of sentence forms. Bucause the grammar of sentences can be quite complicated if I want to explain it to the full extent. And another reason is that most people, including me, are not that fond of grammar whatsoever.
All I want to mention here is that according to linguists, to whom I pay high tribute for their tirelessly hard work, there are around 135 types of elemental sentence forms. But more details can be found in wedsite in the extanal links area below.
Structures of Sentences
Given different standing points, the types and classifications of sentences can vary significantly from each other. Here I will take you on a journey to have a glimpse of those categories.
Listed below are the two mostly-common-used classifications of sentences.
Based on the
purpose of sentences
, there are four main types of sentences, declarative sentence, interrogative sentence, exclamatory sentence and imperative sentence
A declarative sentence
makes a declaration or a statement.
e.g. It is a very nice day.
An interrogative sentence
asks a question.
e.g. Do you want more coffee?
An exclamatory sentence
e.g. What a beautiful hankerchief it is!
An imperative sentence
conveys a command.
e.g. Stop talking please!
Based on the
forms of sentences
, there are also four main types. These four sentence forms include simple sentence, compound sentence, complex sentence, and complex-compound sentence.
A simple sentence
is made up of a subject and a predicate, with one single independent clause and no dependent clauses in it. The aforementioned exclamatory sentence is practically a simple sentence in its nature.
A compound sentence
has two or more independent clauses, but still no dependent clauses in it. Clauses within a compound sentence are joined together by conjunctions, punctuation, or both.
e.g. As he entered the room, the bell rang.
e.g. Jenny likes the color blue, but Tom perfers green.
A complex sentence
includes at least one independent clause and one dependent clause.
e.g. It is said that it is going to rain.
A complex-compound sentence
is a mixed sentence, combining the forms of compound and conplex sentences. That is to say, it consists of several independent clauses, and at least one of which has one dependent clause.
e.g. I have noticed that they are wasting the time, but I am not going to tell them.
Contextual Categories of Sentences
Sentences can fall into different contextual categories, such as academic, business and literature.
People who have drowned in the sea of higher education and researches often complicate their ideas and create annoying sentences. By saying 'annoying', I mean those sentences are grammatically correct and beautiful, but what the hell is it telling about?
Harvard former President L.H.Summers has taught me a lesson on this point. He claimed in a meeting that the under-representation of women in science and engineering could be due to a "different availability of aptitude at the high end"
And right now, I still don't know what a "different availability of aptitude at the high end" really means.
In business circles, people write differently too. Here is a sentence that possibly appears in a memorandum.
It goes like: Please remind all your subordinates that the Travel Authorization Form has to be completed and submitted to me at least 5 days before the departure date.
Formal it sounds and appears still, but much reader-friendly than that of Mr. Summers.
Last but not least, literature sentences contribute a lot to the variety of the family of sentences.
For example, authors choose to write loose, periodic or balanced sentences in their works.
The most prominent character of a balanced sentence is the parallel structure, which means "two or more parts of the sentence have the same form, emphasizing similarities or differences".
I like the balanced sentences very much because of the structure, which very much like that of Chinese ancient poems in Tang Dynasty, and beautiful in both forms and sounds. For example:
In Chinese ancient poems, it has "沧海月明珠有泪，蓝田日暖玉生烟"
While in English, it has "
MacMillan English-Chinese Dictionary For Advanced Learners
, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, Beijing, 2005, p.1892
Cambridge Dictionary Online, Cite web url=
3) Oxford English Dictionary Online, Cite web url=
4) Rod, Types of Sentences, "What are the kinds or types of sentences?"
15 Oct. 2010. Web. 23. Mar. 2011
5) Fein, Leonard. "The 'Availability' Of Aptitude."
The Jewish Daily Forward
25 Feb. 2005
6) Sentence Forms,
7) Li, Shangying, Poem "The Inlaid Harp",
8) Dickens, Charles,
A Tale of Two Cities,
1] Academic Sentence Forms,
The website above provides imformation on how to write academic sentences.
2] The Ten Plus One Sentence Forms,
The website above provides basic information on elementary sentence grammars and sentence forms.
3] Sentence Varieties,
4] The Writing Center of University of Ottawa,
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