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What are Complex and Compound Sentences

clauseComplex and Compound Sentences

In English, sentences can be formed using different types and numbers of clauses. Depending on the type and number of clauses used, we can classify a sentence as a simple, compound or complex sentence. In this article we will focus on complex and compound sentences.

What is a Complex Sentence?

A complex sentence has one independent (or main) clause, and at-least one dependent (or subordinate) clause. The independent and dependent clauses are joined together using an appropriate conjunction.

An independent, or main, clause does not depend on the other clause. It makes sense as a separate sentence, and that is why it is called "independent".

On the other hand, a subordinate clause does not make sense on its own. It depends on the main clause to form a sentence. In other words, it does not express a complete thought.

A subordinate clause begins with a connective like "while", "until", "because", "although" or a relative pronoun. The following are some examples:

  • Although it was raining, they played golf.

  • I will call you after I finish my work.

  • I bought some chocolate while I was coming home.

  • Although she invited me to the party, I do not want to go.

  • After she finished playing, she went to the market.

  • When he went to the fair, he ate ice-cream.

What is a Compound Sentence?

A compound sentence has two independent clauses joined by a conjunction, comma or semicolon. The two independent clauses have related ideas of equal importance. As we have already seen above, an independent clause makes sense as a separate sentence and does not depend on another clause. Therefore, both the clauses in a compound sentence can be written as seperate (independent) sentences. Then, why do we use them in one sentence? The reason they are used in one sentence is because they convey related ideas.

The following are some examples.

  • It was raining, still they played golf.

  • She is famous, yet she is very polite.

  • I bought chocolate, but Mary bought ice-cream.

  • He wanted pizza, and she wanted some juice.

  • My sister went to the market, but I stayed home.

  • Matthew went to the fair, and he ate ice-cream.

Note: 1. When a coordinating conjunction joins two independent clauses, a comma comes before the conjunction.

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