Using a variety of sentence structures means mixing the types of sentences you use in an expository essay, similar to how you might mix paint to create a beautiful, multicolored palette for a lush painting.
Source: Monet - Straßenbrücke in Argenteuil, Claude Monet, Wikimedia
Three main types of sentence structures are simple, compound, and complex. Think of these as the primary colors of writing; these structures would be similar to red, yellow, and blue.
Source: 139.365 Coloring outside the Lines, Reilly Butler, Flickr
In the interactive activity below, read the explanation for each type of sentence structure. Then click the “Example” button to see an example of the structure. Independent clauses are highlighted in yellow, and dependent clauses are highlighted in pink.
Simple sentence: A sentence with one clause (subject and predicate)
The radio blared loudly..
Compound sentence: A sentence composed of at least two independent clauses linked with a conjunction or semicolon
I like vanilla ice cream, but Sam prefers chocolate. I plan to order a sundae; Sam wants an ice cream cone.
Complex sentence: A sentence with an independent clause and at least one dependent clause
I cleaned the roomwhen the guests left.
Expository essays can become repetitive or boring if sentence after sentence is the same type with no variation. Watch the following video to learn more:
Source: Compound Sentences, glassell5, YouTube
Source: Ice cream sundae, Renee Comet, Flickr
Especially when writing a procedural text, you want to avoid writing multiple simple sentences in a row because they will sound choppy. In the next exercise, practice identifying the three main sentence types. Click on one choice (a, b, or c) for each question.
Source: IMGP3997a, Michael kooiman, Flickr
Varying your sentence structures makes your writing strong and interesting. Think of these three types of sentences as similar to the three primary colors, and remember to use a little of each—red, yellow, and blue.