Lesson Three

How to write good sentences

The sentence is the basic unit for communicating an idea or information. When a verb and a subject get together and are joined by adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and other words they form a sentence. Sentences can be long or short. They can be twisted into the form of a question or suggest multiple meanings. They can resemble the spoken language or take on a form only found in the written word. The ability to write a good sentence is essential to your ability to write well.

If you are unsure of how to write a sentence, visit the Orange Level for this website. The first few lessons provide provide instruction for sentence formation. If you’re ready to move on, let’s practice identifying sentences.

If a sentence is incomplete or missing necessary parts, such as a verb or a subject, or if it is a clause but not an independent clause, you should be able to recognize that. In each of the examples below, do you see a sentence or a fragment (an incomplete sentence)?

1. Whenever she’s around.

2. Give the man his car.

3. As soon as we return from our trip.

4. The only thing they forgot was to pack a lunch.

5. Because it’s cold outside.

Sentences 1, 3, and 5 are fragments. They are missing key parts that would make them complete sentences. The other two sentences, 2 and 4, are complete sentences. They have everything necessary to communicate information. Again, if you need to understand sentence basics, the Orange Level can help you with that before you proceed any further.

Let’s do a few a exercises. In this first exercise, join the prepositional phrase or dependent clause on the left with the independent clause on the right:

1. In the window ____.

a. you’ll see a gas station.
2. If you don’t like it, ____.
b. he doesn’t want it.
3. Before the movie started, _____.
c. there was an investigation.
4. Down the street on the left side _____.
d. there’s a help wanted sign.
5. With what remained in her bank account, _____.
e. don’t eat it.

6. He says _____.

f. she said she was leaving the company.
7. As soon as our guests arrived, _____.
g. we got some popcorn.
8. Because she never gets a break, _____.
h. she put a down payment on a car.
9. Tired after a driving all night, _____.
i. everyone ate.
10. Following the accident _____.
j. they found a place to pull over.


ANSWERS: 1. d; 2. e; 3. g; 4. a; 5. h; 6. b; 7. i; 8. f; 9. j; 10. c

Of course, other combinations might be possible, but are they logical? One part of a sentence should match the remaining part. If two or more parts of a sentence don’t match up, someone will point out that it does not make sense. Students who are just learning how to write often make this kind of mistake. To avoid that, keep your sentences short. As you become a better writer, you can lengthen your sentences as needed.

In the next exercise, combine two parts of a sentence to make one sentence. Write the new sentences in your notebook.

write by hand

Example: I don’t know the woman. She teaches the class.

I don’t know the woman who teaches the class.

1. I’m tired. I’m hungry.

2. The table is broken. She’s going to be upset.

3. The car is old. It’s rusty. It’s also worn out.

4. These are the books. We use them for class.

5. He wants to get some information. He wants to know how to start a vegetable garden.

How did you do? While there are some different possibilities, you probably wrote something like this:

1. I’m tired and hungry.

2. She’s going to be upset about the broken table.

3. The car is old, rusty, and worn out. / The old car is rusty and worn out.

4. These are the books that we use for class.

5. He wants to get some information about starting a vegetable garden.

If these exercises were difficult for you, I recommend that you return to the grammar and usage lessons that are available on this website.


After you write something, it’s often necessary to revise it. This will be your next lesson.