We all know that there are three main types of sentences – simple sentence, compound sentence and complex sentence. These sentences are classified based on their clause structure. A simple sentence has only one independent clause. A compound sentence has two independent clauses connected with the help of a coordinating conjunction. In this article, we are going to see a brief overview of complex sentences and their structure.
Structure of a complex sentence
A complex sentence is one that has one dependent clause and one independent clause. There can be more than one independent clause in this type of sentence. In simpler terms, a complex sentence has two parts – one part that can stand by itself (independent clause) and one part that cannot stand by itself (dependent clause). These two parts are connected with the help of a subordinating conjunction.
What is a subordinating conjunction?
Words like because, after, since, whenever, wherever, when, until, so that, though, although, etc. are subordinating conjunction. This is a conjunction that connects a dependent clause with an independent clause to provide more meaning. When you read a dependent clause by itself, it doesn’t provide any meaning. However, when a subordinating conjunction connects it to the independent clause, it gives more readability and meaning for the sentence.
Examples of complex sentences
Look at the below examples of complex sentences to understand more about them:
- I feel sleepy whenever I take a book.
- My car stopped at the school building, which was huge and red.
- When your doctor tells you something, listen to him fully.
- I wore a sweater because the weather was too cold.
Let us see the first example in some detail here – “I feel sleepy whenever I take a book.” Here the independent clause (the part that can give meaning by itself) is “I feel sleepy.” The dependent clause (the part that cannot stand by itself) is “whenever I take a book.” This dependent clause answers the question, “when?” Clauses that answer the questions, “when, where, how and why” are adverb clauses. Dependent clauses that answer the question, “what” are known as noun clauses. Dependent clauses that answer the questions, “who, whom or which” are known as adjective clauses.
When a sentence begins with the word “if,” its dependent clause becomes a conditional clause. For example, “If you don’t study, you won’t pass your exams.” Here, the independent clause is “you won’t pass your exams.” It can be a sentence on its own as it gives the complete meaning. The dependent clause, “if you don’t study” is a conditional clause here.
Writing complex sentences
Most people wrongly assume that writing too many complex sentences in their content would make them look intelligent. A complex sentence should only be used when you want to elaborate on something. When you start writing a paragraph or any kind of content, you should begin with simple sentences because they are easier to understand. As you progress further into your content, you can use complex sentences to draw connections with the dependent and independent clauses.
One of the most important points to note while writing complex sentences is to take care while writing commas. When you place the comma wrongly, it changes the meaning of the sentence at times and results in grammatical errors. The two places where you have to put commas are – a) when a dependent clause ends and b) when a dependent clause begins with the word, “which.” When a dependent clause begins with “that,” you should never put commas.
A complex sentence is one of the most beautiful sentence structures. The key is to use the clauses properly and get the punctuation marks right so that you can convey the meaning that you want to, in a grammatically correct way.