A simple sentence (sometimes called an independent clause) is a sentence that contains one subject and one verb.[1] It has only one clause. It must also express a complete thought.[2] This follows the rules of syntax in English grammar.



A simple sentence is not defined by how short it is.[3] A simple sentences is often short and uncomplicated. But it is not limited by the number of words used to express the thought.[3] For example:

  • "Bill reads". This is a simple sentence. "Bill" is the subject and "reads" is the action (verb).
  • "Being an English teacher with a penchant for syntactical complexity, I love to read simple sentences upon getting up and before going to bed."[4] This is still a simple sentence even though it uses more words.

Simple or dependent?


A simple sentence or independent clause is one that has a meaning to a reader or listener. If the sentence does not complete the thought, it may be a dependent clause. A dependent clause is one that does not express a complete thought.[5] By itself it is a sentence fragment. It may look like a simple sentence, but it will not make sense on its own.

  • "Bill reads". Again, a simple sentence. Bill (a noun for a subject) reads (the action that completes the thought).
  • "Because Bill wants to learn more." What happens because Bill wants to learn more? We do not know, so that is not a sentence. It is a dependent clause.


  1. Brian Backman, Building Sentence Skills (Westminster, CA: Teacher Created Materials, 2003), p. 7
  2. Fred Obrecht, Minimum Essentials of English (Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series, 1999), p. 31
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gary Lutz; Diane Stevenson, The Writer's Digest Grammar Desk Reference (Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 2005), p. 77
  4. Phil Atteberry. "Sentence Types". University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  5. "Independent and Dependent Clauses". LoveToKnow, Corp. Retrieved 17 January 2015.

Other websites