Can You Write a Simple Sentence Painlessly?

How to:

You may not know what a complete sentence is. In which case, you might be having trouble with writing proper sentences. No doubt, your writing may have a fragment (an incomplete sentence) or a run-on sentence (a sentence that runs on too long.)


So, what is a simple sentence? In the English language, each simple sentence must have both a subject and verb in a complete idea. Well, except for commands (imperatives) such as “Do that.” However, most likely, you will not be writing commands on the TOEFL exam.


Subjects and verbs:


A subject is a noun (a person, place or thing such as a child, a city, or a cat), pronoun (I, you, he/she, it, we, they) or a gerund (playing, studying, sleeping.) Clearly, your complete sentence will not have just one word, or it would be called a fragment. Most likely, you will have to put an article such as a, an, or the before your subject. Then, your main verb (the action word such as have) will follow the subject, and it may be made up of two words such as have gone.


Samples of simple sentences with a main subject and verb:

  • A child sleeps.
  • The city has grown.
  • The cat is meowing.


After the main subject and verb, a sentence often has an object: direct or indirect.


She (subject) gives (verb) her brother (indirect object) a present (direct object).

The kid (subject) was drinking (verb) milk (direct object).


With prepositional phrases, adverbs, and adjectives added, your sentences will expand. A prepositional phrase is a group of words with a preposition followed by an object. Prepositions (short words such as to, of, for, on, above, below) show relations between nouns, and after a preposition comes an “object of the preposition,” often a noun or a gerund.


She (subject) gives (verb) her brother (indirect object) a present (direct object) at (preposition) his graduation (object of the preposition).

The kid (subject) was drinking (verb) milk (direct object) with (preposition) strawberries (object of the preposition).


An adverb describes non-noun words such as verbs or adjectives, while an adjective is a word that describes a noun.


The thirsty (adjective) man (subject) was drinking (verb) quickly (adverb) at (preposition) the dirty (adjective) bar (object of the preposition.)

Incredibly (adverb), he (subject) studied (verb) consistently (adverb) until (preposition) the (article) big (adjective) exam (object of the preposition.)


In essence, simple sentences are a piece of cake once you get the basic structure. If you like this article, check out the blog Use Technology for Proficiency in English.

Transitions and Structure Create a Smooth Flowing TOEFL Essay

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One of the essential keys to a well-written essay is integrating transitions into your essay, whether that be the integrated task or the independent task on the writing section of the TOEFL exam. Transitions and transitional phrases are words or groups of words that connect ideas between or within sentences. When you write a paragraph, you should present ideas that flow; consequently, connector words or phrases are useful to make the paragraph cohesive. By inserting smooth connections, ideas can relate more logically so that no gaps exist. If you are able to connect your thoughts in a manner which leads the reader through your essay, you will effectively paint a clearer argument. For this reason, though you may already have presented a strong argument and supporting details, your opinion, reasons, examples and support need to also connect with transitions in order to make your persuasion seem stronger to any reader. Proper selection of transitions makes your written passage much more enticing to read

Moreover, you will need to decide which transition word or phrase to use in a particular spot in your writing. So, examine your essay overall. Look at the organization. When you give ideas that build on one another in the same way, use ‘like meaning’ transitions. If you have presented ideas which are opposing, then you would insert transitional phrases that are contrasting meaning. Sequential words also help to delineate the organization of time in paragraphs and keep sentences in clear order.

Sample transitions

SEQUENTIAL WORDS–First, at first, initially, first of all, in the first place, second, secondly, in addition, as well, next, later, after that, now, recently, at the same time,

EXAMPLE WORDS: for instance, for example, to illustrate, to exemplify, to demonstrate, to show,

EMPHASIS WORDS–in particular, specifically, even, especially, in fact, no doubt, doubtless

LIKE WORDS–similarly, like, as, likewise, in the same way, in addition, plus

CONTRAST WORDS—but, yet, however, nevertheless, yet, still, on the other hand, despite, although, though, even though, while, whereas

CONCLUSION WORDS–In conclusion, in summary, lastly, consequently, finally, hence, therefore, thus

Sentences example without a transition and with transitions

  • I built a house. It was one story. [no transition]
  • For instance, I built a house; initially, it was one story. [two transitions for smooth flowing logic]

Not only are transitions vital to your writing on the TOEFL, but also a solid structure makes your essay more convincing to the reader. The structure of an essay commences with an introduction, an initial paragraph which starts off with catching the attention of the reader with a lead-on on the topic. For instance, you begin with a general statement or question on the topic to entice a reader. The introduction moves from general to more specific: at the end of the introductory paragraph, in the last sentence, you state your thesis statement. A thesis is the main idea of your essay. Whatever main purpose you have (your argument,) you would mention that viewpoint to control the thesis and add your reasons why.

To follow the introduction, you would have a body of a few paragraphs which explain the support of your reasons why. In this way, your reasons each have concrete examples and details, which become more and more detailed to make a convincing argument. Each body paragraph follows a similar structure. You begin with a transition to refer back to the previous paragraph or move forward to a new idea. Thus, your writing will not jump from one idea to the next without logical reasoning. The first topic sentence of each body paragraph contains a controlling idea and one reason, which refers back to one reason stated in the thesis in the introduction. After proposing your reason, you give an example or evidence to support the topic. Following an example, you can include numerous details, which become more concrete as you move through the body paragraph. Those ideas support the argument, reason and example. If you wish to conclude the body paragraph, you may want to rephrase the topic sentence in other words to emphasize the point you are making.

The final part of the structure of an essay is to restate your thesis and express why that is important. In that concluding paragraph, you would start with an ending transition such as “In conclusion,” or “In summary,” or “To sum up.” One of those transitions smooths your writing so that moving from the body to the conclusion is not jumpy. To follow would be a short summary of your opinion and the reasons paraphrased with new word choice. Your concluding line should end strong. It would be a recommendation or suggestion on topic or a universal call to action. Be sure not to introduce new ideas in the conclusion or that would weaken the ending.

Of course, by using both the proper transitions in the correct location within your writing and by organizing your essay structure according to the standard set above, you can impact the reader positively. He/she will be able to readily comprehend your argumentative viewpoint and capture supporting points clearly to give you a better TOEFL writing score.

If you liked this post, try reading the article Writing a TOEFL Independent Essay with a Story as an Example.