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Assessment Support: Sentence Structure

Sentence Structure & Paragraphs

Sentence Structure

It is important to be aware of your sentence structure in academic writing. There are a few key things that you should make note of. 

Different Types of Sentences

  • A simple sentence will include one verb. 

"My dog enjoyed playing with you". 

  • A compound sentence will include a subject and a verb and combine these.

"The man was scared, and he ran away crying".

  • A complex sentence will include one independent clause and one dependent clause. 

"Once Nathan had finished handing out his cupcakes, he discovered he didn't have enough."


Is used to separate words and parts of sentences.

  • Full stops 

These indicate to the reader that the sentence is complete and that the thought or idea has been finished. 

  • Commas

Commas can be used in several ways. Firstly, to separate the adjectives (describing words) from the nouns (person, place, or thing) within the sentence. Secondly, to allow the writer to add meaning to the sentence, it allows the writer to add additional content and elaborate. And, lastly, to create cohesion, commas can serve to introduce a new sentence.

  • Quotation Marks

Quotation marks indicate to the reader that you are quoting another author verbatim (word for word), when using quotation marks you will always include an in-text reference. (See Referencing for more). 


Common mistakes

Common Mistakes

There are some common mistakes that you need to be aware of when constructing sentences, here are some examples of these and the solutions. 

  • Mistake 1. Incomplete sentences

This is the absence of a verb or subject or can occur when a new idea is introduced in the same sentence and not completed. 

Example: In light of what the teacher thought of the new Marvel series.

Solution: Introduce the subject and ensure you include a verb.

Solution: The teacher expressed admiration for the new Marvel series.

  • Mistake 2. Informal sentences

In academic writing, the general practice is to write sentences in the third person (avoiding the use of personal pronouns I, me, we, us, etc.).

Example: I thought that Toki's analysis of Norse mythology was accurate, in regard to his proposition that the Norseman were of the belief that they would witness the apocalypse.  

Solution: Remove the personal pronoun and reword the sentence. 

Example: It can be argued that Toki's analysis of Norse mythology was accurate, in regard to his proposition that the Norseman were of the belief that they would witness the apocalypse. 

  • Mistake 3. Run-on sentences

These are common mistakes in student writing. A run-on sentence occurs when a sentence is too long and should be divided using appropriate punctuation, or when they contain more than one clear idea. 

Example: Toki loved to collect soft toys, Toki loved having a pet bear. 

Solution: Separate the two clauses (ideas).

Solution: Toki loved to collect soft toys. Toki loved having a pet bear. 

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