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Complex and Compound-Complex Sentences


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A guide for ESL students. I made this for my university students who are at about an intermediate level. Hopefully some other teachers (or students) can make use of it. Enjoy! Check out my websites adn if you like.

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Complex and Compound-Complex Sentences

  1. 1. Complex and Compound-Complex Sentences
  2. 2. But first… a review Looking back at last week – simple and compound clauses
  3. 3. Clauses Independent Clauses An independent clause must have three elements: ●A subject ●A verb ●A complete thought Let’s look at some examples: ●Sally sings. ●She loves you. ●We are going to the mall this weekend.
  4. 4. Sentence Types There are four types of sentence in English:- Simple ● We play football. Compound ● We play football, and they play rugby. Complex ● We play football when we’re not busy at school. Compound-complex ● We play football if it’s sunny, and sometimes we play tennis.
  5. 5. Clauses Dependent Clauses A dependent clause only has two elements: ●A subject ●A verb ●A complete thought They will also begin with either a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun.
  6. 6. Simple Sentences A simple sentence is just one independent clause. ● I like eating fast food. ● She went to the park yesterday. ● They were last seen six days ago.
  7. 7. Compound Sentences A compound sentence is made up of two (or more) independent clauses. They may be joined by:- ● a comma and a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS) ○ I like tea, but I prefer coffee. ● a semi-colon ○ I like tea; I prefer coffee. ● a semi-colon and a conjunctive adverb. ○ I like tea; however, I prefer coffee.
  8. 8. Mistakes There are three big mistakes to watch out for:- Comma splice ● The mountain is tall, it’s really dangerous. Fragment ● Although the fog was really thick. Run-on sentence ● The man came to the door he said his name was Frank.
  9. 9. Complex Sentences Adding colour to your language
  10. 10. Complex Sentences A complex sentence has one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. The two clauses will be joined by a subordinator (although, because, since, as) or relative pronoun (who, which, that). Although it was raining, I walked to work. Subordinator Dependent clause Independent clause
  11. 11. Complex Sentences This can be written in two ways: Although it was raining, I walked to work. I walked to work although it was raining. Notice: When the dependent clause comes first, it is followed by a comma. comma no comma
  12. 12. Complex Sentences The formula looks like this: independent clause + dependent clause or dependent clause + comma + independent clause = complex sentence
  13. 13. Complex Sentences You can drop the dependent clause, but you cannot drop the independent one. ● I walked to work. ● Although it was raining. The first example is now a simple sentence, but the second is a sentence fragment. Any single clause beginning with a subordinator is a fragment.
  14. 14. Subordinators after how until although if unless as in as much as if in order that when as long as at least whenever as much as now that whereas soon wherever as though since while because so that before even if that even though though
  15. 15. Subordinate Clauses Subordinate clause is another way of saying dependent clause. Subordinate means that a clause is less important than the main clause. Look at these two simple sentences: ● I was tired. I went to the shop. Now look at this compound sentence: ● I was tired but I went to the shop. In each case, the sentences have equal meaning. They are equally important.
  16. 16. Subordinate Clauses In a complex sentence, however, one clause is more important and one is less important. ● Although I was tired, I went to the shop. Now the reader knows which part of the sentence is the main idea – “I went to the shop.”
  17. 17. Examples Let’s explore further
  18. 18. I can’t do any work here because it’s too noisy. Independent clause Dependent clause Subordinator
  19. 19. He will keep studying until he passes the exam. Independent clause Dependent clause Subordinator
  20. 20. When I first came here, I had no friends. Dependent clause Subordinator Independent clause comma
  21. 21. Review
  22. 22. Complex Sentences A complex sentence must have 1 independent clause and at least 1 dependent clause. Both parts are not equal. Remember a comma is needed if the dependent clause comes first. Bob is popular even though he is ugly. Even though he is ugly, Bob is popular.
  23. 23. Compound-Complex Sentences The longest sentence type.
  24. 24. Compound-Complex Sentences This type of sentence must have at least two independent clauses, and one dependent clause. We use the same conjunctions (subordinators or FANBOYS) to join the different parts.
  25. 25. Compound-Complex Sentences Formula Independent clause + coordinating conjunction + independent clause + dependent clause = compound-complex sentence Note: The clauses can be in any order.
  26. 26. Compound-Complex Sentences Example Although she was well-know in her industry, most people had never heard of her, and she felt somewhat unaccomplished. .
  27. 27. More Examples The dog barked loudly, and she ran all around the room as her owner tried to relax with his newspaper. The scouts did not think they’d make it to the destination because it was so far away, and they were exhausted from the long journey.
  28. 28. More Examples Supermarkets are very popular because they sell so many things, and they often have other services. Stanley went to work, but his wife stayed at home because she had a sore throat.
  29. 29. Test Label the following sentence types
  30. 30. ●Most of the rotten eggs missed the actors, but one hit the orchestra. ●Because the weather along the coast was cold and rainy, we spent the day in the desert. ●When he had finished the test, Ernie ate a gallon of chocolate ice cream, and Sandra drank a chocolate shake. ●A lion, a tiger, and a bear appeared on stage. compound compound-complex complex simple
  31. 31. ●Saul’s car started to fall apart after the mechanic adjusted the carburetor. ●When his computer crashed for the third time, Bill began to weep, and his mother tried to console him. ○ ●Sylvia, who is my sister’s best friend, set out to find a red rose. ● If he wins the competition, he’ll buy himself a new car, and get his mum one, too. Compound- complex Complex Complex Compound- complex