Sentence Structures

Watch the following video to brush up on the basic building blocks of the English language: sentences.  This is a very simple introduction to the first three types of sentences.

You will need to be able to identify:

  1. Simple sentences
  2. Compound sentences
  3. Complex sentences
  4. Compound-complex sentences


This neat (though heteronormative) graphic gives you a way of visualising the relationship between clauses.  If you think of clauses as being independents (like your parents) and the dependents (like you, kiddo) then you will know how the parents can stand alone (simple sentence) or side-by-side (compound sentence) and that, when they have a kid in tow the kid is less important (bear with me!) and can’t survive in the world by itself.

For a more thorough look at all four sentence types in action, watch the following video .  Note that it makes reference to the coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so = FANBOYS).

Grammar Bytes!  is a great website presenting easily digestible information about each grammar element and it includes self-test exercises on sentence structures and errors, such as run-on sentences or sentence fragments.

If you need to brush up on the following points of grammar, you can easily log in to the self-testing site NoRedInk and complete some drills to get immediate feedback on your proficiency.

Wu-Tang Clan & Will.i.amb Shakepeare


Ever get the sneaky feeling that Shakespeare would be doing hip hop if he were alive today?  Rapper Akala brings hip hop and Shakespeare together.  Listen to his Comedy, History, Tragedy to get a flava of his work (see what I did there?).

One of the founders of the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, Akala explores the connections between Shakespeare and hip hop, and tests his audience to see if they can recognise lines from rappers from lines from Shakespeare.  The results are surprising…

He goes on to argue that hip hop’s founders and artists like the Wu-Tang Clan see themselves as ‘custodians of knowledge’ in the same way that William Shakespeare was in his day – their work sharing the same celebration of audacious intelligence.

Drop a beat.




How do we attribute what we find and use online?


Image source: Craig R. Kirkby on Flickr

When we write and use other people’s ideas we should always attribute these to the source. This is the expected, ethical use of what we’ve read elsewhere. It’s a good idea to get into that mindset and learn procedures as early as possible because it’s expected in higher education and part of the assessment.

In blog posts we do the same – we attribute ideas, text, images, videos, sound files, etc. to the source of where we found these, but instead of adding footnotes we hyperlink back to the source.

Hyperlinked citations are much more than an attribution of cited sources; they are also:

  • a direct link the the source itself
  • a solution to wordy explanations which interrupt the flow of the sentence
  • a dense and complexly charged way of writing

Here’s an example from The Joy of Swimming: An Illustrated Celebration of the Water as a Medium of Bodily, Mental and Spiritual Movement by Maria Popova on the blog, Brain Pickings.

“The truth is an abyss,” Kafka asserted in contemplating the nature of reality. “One must — as in a swimming pool — dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order later to rise again … to the now doubly illuminated surface of things.” Alan Watts once explained the tenets of Taoism through swimming. More than a philosophical metaphor, the swimming pool is a place of great psychological potency — Oliver Sacks saw swimming as an essential creative stimulant for writing.

Not only is this hyperlinked method of citation a new way of writing, but it’s also a new way of reading. You might say that the writer has done the work of bringing in the textual background for his ideas, but the reader also has to do the hard work of going to the sources and reading for understanding. Although, in the above example, Maria Popova links to her own blog posts, this is exactly the way you would link back to online sources you have quoted or paraphrased.

Footnotes? Why have these at the foot of the page when you can embed them directly?