Grammar & Style Worksheet Clauses/ Sentence Variety

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A Clause is a group of words that contains at least one subject and one verb. Clauses: Harvey(subject) cares(verb) about Beatrice

The Train(subject) was(verb) late Almost all cats(subject) hate(verb) dogs Michelangelo (subject) is (verb) cool but rude

The four examples above are, more specifically, all Main Clauses because they express a complete idea. A Subordinate Clause, on the other hand, begins with a word that prevents it from expressing a complete idea. Most often, subordinate clauses begin with Subordinate Conjunctions.

Examples of subordinate conjunctions:

after although as as soon as because

before by the time even if even though every time if in case just in case now that once only if since the first time though unless

until when whenever whereas whether or not while

Examples of Subordinate clauses:

When I(subject) arrive(verb) at the airport… …which Joe(subject) kept(verb) for himself. After you(subject) inspect(verb) the kitchen…

The words that begin those clauses may also be called subordinators. Basically, they strip the power of a main clause and make that clause a subordinate.

A Fragment occurs when a group of words that lack a main clause is punctuated as a sentence. The sentences created in these cases are “incomplete” and therefore incorrect

Some fragments are created because of misunderstanding Verbals. There are times when a verb does not act as a verb. Verbs acting as participles, gerunds, or infinitives are called Verbals and, therefore, do not count as a verb inside a clause. Verbals frequently lead to clause confusion.

Definitions and examples of Verbals:

A Participle is a verb form used as an adjective to modify nouns and pronouns. The following sentence contains both a present and a past participle:

The children, crying and exhausted, were guided out of the collapsed mine.

A Gerund is a verb form ending in -ing that functions in a sentence as a noun. Although both the present participle and the gerund are formed by adding -ing to a verb, note that the participle does the job of an adjective while the gerund does the job of a noun. Compare the verbals in these two sentences:

The children, crying and exhausted, were guided out of the collapsed mine. Crying will not get you anywhere.

Whereas the participle crying modifies the subject in the first sentence, the gerund Crying is the subject of the second sentence. A gerund, therefore, could be the subject of a clause (because a gerund acts as a noun), but it can not take the role of a verb in a clause.


An Infinitive is a verb form—often preceded by the particle to—that can function as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb, but doesn’t end in -ing. Compare the verbals in these two sentences:

I don't like crying in public unless I'm getting paid for it. I don't like to cry in public unless I'm getting paid for it.

In the first sentence, the gerund crying serves as the direct object (the thing that receives the action). In the second sentence, the infinitive to cry performs the same function.

These terms take a while to understand, so please ask me if you have any questions.

II. SENTENCE VARIETY: Simple, Compound, Complex, Compound/Complex

A simple sentence consists of only a main clause, and therefore, it contains no other clauses. It does NOT contain either a subordinate clause or another main clause. “Simple” does not necessarily mean the sentence is short, so don’t judge a sentence by its size.

Here are some examples of simple sentences – short simple sentence: The dog barked.

long simple sentence: Leaning first this way and then that, the large tan dog with a wide

black collar barked loudly at the full moon last night from under the lilac bush in the shadow of the north side of the house.

In both sentences dog is the only subject and barked is the verb.

Keep in mind that the simple sentence may have a compound subject, compound verb, or subject and verb:

compound subject: The dog and the cat howled. compound verb: The dog howled and barked.

compound subject and verb: The dog and cat howled and yowled.

A compound sentence consists of two or more main clauses joined by

(1) a comma followed by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so): The dog barked, and the cat yowled.

(2) a semicolon:

The dog barked; the cat yowled.

(3) a comma, but ONLY when the main clauses are being treated as items in a series: The dog barked, the cat yowled, and the rabbit chewed.

A complex sentence consists of a combination of a main clause and a subordinate clause. Complex sentences may use a relative clause as the subordinate clause. Here are some examples of relative clauses in complex sentences:

The dog that was in the street howled loudly.

A student who is hungry would never pass up a hamburger.

Complex sentences may also use subordinate clauses created by a subordinating conjunction creating the subordinate clause (note the various positions of the subordinate clause):


End: The dog howled although he was well fed.

Front: Because the dog howled so loudly, the student couldn't eat his hamburger. Middle: The dog, although he was well fed, howled loudly.

A compound-complex sentence consists of a combination of compound and complex sentences. Again, does not necessarily need to be a identifying factor. Check to make sure even the longest sentences are both compound and complex to be sure of a compound-complex structure.

As the dog howled, one cat sat on the fence, and the other licked its paws.

For your enjoyment, please find the worksheet on the


WORKSHEET NAME:_____________________________________ Please complete it to the best of your ability, and email me if you have any questions. Some of these will be pretty tricky, so expect to miss a few of these practice examples.

A. Indicate whether the following are main clauses (MC), subordinate clauses (SC), or neither (N) 1. Gordon forgot his sunscreen.

2. Shifting into warp speed. 3. Griffins are scary creatures. 4. If you say that one more time. 5. Why don’t you understand? 6. To point his pistol at the intruder.

7. Charles and Ann are proud of the magazine. 8. Because Suzanne likes to ride horses. 9. Having already made up his mind. 10. He ordered a Spam-and-okra pizza.

11. Because Sam Lucas gave him such good advice. 12. Even though Jack had to use a crane.

13. He never missed one meeting. 14. Play it again, Sam.

15. When Brent fakes out the point guard.

B. Please identify each clause in the following sentences (MC, SC), and then label each sentences as Simple, Compound, Complex or Compound/Complex.

1. Pauline and Bruno have a big argument every summer over where they should spend their

summer vacation.

2. Pauline loves to go to the beach and spend her days sunbathing.

3. Bruno, on the other hand, likes the view that he gets from the log cabin up in the


4. Pauline says there is nothing relaxing about chopping wood, swatting mosquitoes, and

cooking over a woodstove.

5. Bruno dislikes sitting on the beach; he always gets a nasty sunburn.

6. Bruno tends to get bored sitting on the beach, watching the waves, getting sand in his

swimsuit, and reading detective novels for a week.

7. This year, after a lengthy, noisy debate, they decided to take separate vacations.

8. Bruno went to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and Pauline went to Cape Cod.

9. Although they are 250 miles apart, they keep in constant contact on the internet.

10. Bruno took the desktop computer that he uses at work, and Pauline sits on the beach with

her laptop computer, which she connects to the internet with a cellular phone.

C. Now write two examples of each basic type of sentence. That’s eight sentences total—about anything of your choosing—two Simple, two Compound, two Complex, and two