Structural classification of sentences

2. From the point of view of their structure, sentences can be:

1.Simple orcomposite (compound and complex).

2.Complete orincomplete (elliptical).

3.Two-member (double-nucleus) orone-member (single-nucleus).


These three classifications are based on different approaches to the structural organisation of sentences and reflect its different aspects.

The difference between the simple sentence and the composite sentence lies in the fact that the former contains only one subject-predicate unit and the latter more than one. Subject-predicate units that form composite sentences are called clauses.


Honesty is the best policy. (one subject-predicate unit)

Still waters run deep. (one subject-predicate unit)

You can take a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink, (two subject-predicate units, or two


You never know what you can do till you try. (three subject-predicate units, or three clauses)


The difference between the compound and complex sentence lies in the relations between the clauses that constitute them.


Complete and incomplete (or elliptical) sentences are distinguished by the presence or absence of word-forms in the principal positions of two-member sentences.

In a complete sentence both the principal positions are filled with word-forms.


When did you arrive?

I came straight here.


In an incomplete (elliptical) sentence one or both of the main positions are not filled, but can be easily supplied as it is clear from the context what is missing.


Cheerful, arent you?


Couldve been professional.

Wrong again.


Elliptical sentences are typical of conversational English. One-member and two-member sentences are distinguished by the number of principal parts (positions) they contain: two-member sentences have two main parts - the subject and the predicate, while one-member sentences have only one principal part, which is neither the subject nor the predicate.

Two-member sentences:

The magpie flew off.

We are going to my house now.

One-member sentences:

An old park.


Low tide, dusty water.

To live alone in this abandoned house!



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