I know how to swim.

Please tell me whether it is simple or complex sentence.

  • It's a complex sentence, since it contains the subordinate interrogative clause (embedded question) "how to swim". – BillJ Jun 25 '18 at 18:42

A simple sentence is a sentence that consists of only one clause with a single subject and predicate. A compound sentence, on the other hand, is a sentence with more than one independent clause. That in turn implies that a compound sentence consists of more than one subject or predicate. A complex sentence has at least one independent clause plus at least one dependent clause. This also means that a complex sentence has more than one subject/predicate pair. Sources: Sentence clause structure (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) and Independent and Dependent Clauses.

For example:

I know you.

This is a simple sentence because it consists of only one clause and there are only one subject and predicate in it.

I know you didn't do that.

This one is a compound sentence because by definition a compound sentence is one that consists of more than one independent clause. I know is the first independent clause with its own subject/predicate pair and you didn't do that is the second independent clause with its own subject/predicate pair.

I know this because he said that to me.

This sentence is a complex sentence because it contains one independent clause, I know this, and one dependent clause, because he said that to me. because he said that to me is a dependent clause because it entirely depends on I know this and from a grammatical perspective can't stand on its own as a complete thought (Because he said that to me... what?).

But your case is very simple. How many subject/predicate pairs does your sentence have? I see only one: I being the subject and know how to swim the predicate. That's just one clause and there are no other clauses. And that's exactly what makes it a simple sentence. Therefore, I know how to swim is a simple sentence.

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  • Dear sir, I have a doubt about this sentence "I know you didn't do that" if it is complex or compound. You stated that it was a compound sentence. But my knowledge says that it is a complex one. Can you please let me clear? – Räju Särkär Jun 25 '18 at 2:39
  • I expanded my answer a little bit. – Michael Rybkin Jun 25 '18 at 2:53
  • I wouldn't go along with that. "How to swim" is a subordinate interrogative clause (embedded question) as complement of "know", so it's a complex sentence. – BillJ Jun 25 '18 at 18:40

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