© 2017 Steve Campsall

the simple sentence (1)

In grammar, a sentence is called simple not because it is short - or even because it is easy to read or understand. It is a simple sentence because it is composed of a single main clause.

  • It will contain  one subject and one finite verb.

  • That subject might be short (as in a single word) or long (as in an extended noun phrase).

1. The cat sat on the mat.

2. The short-tailed, long-haired Abyssinian pedigree cat with the rather grand name of Arthur of Geneve had been sitting on the Etruscan camel-skin mat in front of the roaring log fire.

The above two grammatical structures are both simple sentences: the second seems 'complex' in its form, yet it still only contains a single subject/verb unit and so is still a simple sentence, i.e. it consists of one main clause.

The subject of the main clause is the rather oddly long noun phrase: 'The short-tailed, long-haired Abyssinian pedigree cat with the rather grand name of Arthur of Geneve...' and the head word of that phrase is...? ...cat; the verb (a verb phrase or string in this example) is 'had been sitting'. The remaining part of the sentence is a pair of adverbial phrases that simply add extra information to tell more about how the cat was sitting.

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