- 1 What are Simple Compound and Complex Sentences?
- 2 Prerequisites to comprehend this article
- 3 Simple Sentence
- 4 Compound sentences
- 5 Complex sentences
In English language, sentences have been categorized to different types. One such category is “Types of sentences based on structure.” There are four types of sentence structures. The three commonly used types of sentence structures are: simple, compound and complex sentences.
What is a Simple sentence?
A Simple sentence is a sentence consisting of only one independent clause.
What is a Compound sentence?
A compound sentence is a sentence consisting of two independent clauses.
What is a Complex sentence?
A Complex sentence is a sentence consisting of only one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.
Prerequisites to comprehend this article
For grasping the contents of this article about Simple Compound and Complex sentences, it’s essential that you have sufficient knowledge of the following grammatical terms:
- Linking words aka Connectives
- Coordinating conjunctions
- Correlative conjunctions
- Conjunctive adverbs
- Subordinating conjunctions
- Subordinating conjunctions of Comparison
- Subordinating conjunctions of Concession
- Subordinating conjunctions of Contrast
- Subordinating conjunctions of Manner
- Subordinating conjunctions of Place
- Subordinating conjunctions of Reason
- Subordinating conjunctions of Time
- Relative pronouns
- Relative adverbs
Now, as you have a good understanding of the above terms, let us study the three sentence structures, simple compound and complex sentences, one by one:
What is a Simple Sentence?
A sentence containing only one Independent Clause and no dependent clause, is called a Simple Sentence.
A simple sentence will have the basic elements, i.e., subject, predicate, and a complete thought, that make it a sentence. A simple sentence need not be always short. It can have a compound subject, a compound predicate or both.
- Mary saw the train coming.
“Mary” = subject, “saw the train coming.” = predicate.
- Jack and Jill waited for the bus.
“Jack and Jill” = compound subject,” waited for the bus” = predicate.
- Tom and Jack sang and danced in the club.
“Tom and jack” = compound subject, “sang” and “danced” in the club. = compound predicate.
The use of too many simple sentences in an article will make it boring to read. Then we must revise some of the sentences by making them into compound or complex sentences.
What is a compound Sentence?
A compound Sentence is a sentence consisting of at least two independent clauses that have closely related ideas of similar importance.
Formation of compound sentences
To form a compound sentence by combining two clauses, we should check if each clause is an independent clause with closely related ideas of similar importance.
Two independent clauses (or two simple sentences) of related ideas of equal importance can be joined by any one of the following methods to form a compound sentence.
- Formation of compound sentence using a coordinating conjunction
- Formation of compound sentence using a correlative conjunction
- Formation of compound sentence using a conjugative adverb
- Formation of compound sentence using a semicolon
1. Formation of compound sentence using a coordinating conjunction
You know that there are seven coordinating conjunctions in English language.( Acronym, FANBOYS).When we choose a coordinating conjunction to join two independent clauses, care must be given to select the one best suited to the relation of the two clauses.
- John did not want to attend the wedding, for he had no money to buy a good wedding gift.
- Jack went to his friend’s house, and he and his friend together went to attend the meeting.
- She had no fruits left at home, nor did she have money to buy some.
- It was a cloudy day, but I did not take an umbrella.
- Take it or leave it.
- I am worried about my obesity, yet I want to eat ice-cream.
- Nobody was interested to go to the movie, so I went alone.
2. Formation of compound sentence using a correlative conjunction
You know that correlative conjunctions are paired conjunctions. They can be used to link two independent clauses to form a compound sentence.
Again, when we choose a correlative conjunction to join two independent clauses, the relationship between the two clauses must be kept in mind and most suitable correlative conjunction must be selected.
Punctuation: Care must be taken to place a comma before the second conjunction that introduces the second independent clause.
- either … or: They shall either play in the stadium or go to the playground nearby.
- neither … nor: Neither did Mary’s brother nor her sister showed up for her son’s birthday party.
- No sooner… than: No sooner than we entered the school, the school bell rang.
- not only … but also: Not only is she beautiful but also highly intelligent.
- whether … or: He was unsure about whether his friend would stay with him or move to a hotel.
3. Forming a compound sentence using a Conjunctive adverb
When separating two independent clauses with Conjunctive adverb, place a semicolon before the conjunctive adverb and a comma after it.
- John was misbehaving in the class; therefore, he got punishment from the teacher.
- I went to the school to meet my son’s teacher; however, I could not meet her.
- She loved the boy very much; in fact, she considered him as her own son.
- Joy considered John as his friend; nonetheless, John was taking advantage of Joy.
- Rose is exceptionally beautiful; on the other hand, her sister is ugly.
- The trip was very tedious; however, we enjoyed the sceneries.
- I could not wake up early; consequently, I missed the first bus.
- We wanted to complete the work before summer; accordingly, we prepared a work schedule.
4. Forming a compound sentence using a semicolon
We can form a compound sentence using a semicolon too, if the two clauses are very closely related.
- I sang; she danced.
- He needed some money; he sold his watch.
- It was raining for days; the roads are flooded with water.
- They reached the market early; they got fresh fish.
Overuse of compound sentences in an article can also weaken the quality of writing. Here we can take the help of complex sentences. As this is an important sentence structure, we shall learn about it in detail.
What is a complex Sentence?
A Complex sentence is a sentence which contains only one Independent Clause (also called main clause) and one or more dependent clauses (also called subordinate clauses), connected with subordinating conjunction, relative pronoun, or relative adverb to the main clause.
A complex Sentence is one of the main sentence structures, that consists of one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses, also called, subordinate clauses.
A subordinate conjunction links the two types of clauses. You know that we use different types of subordinate conjunctions. The subordinate conjunctions help complex sentences to indicate the specific relationships between the two ideas of the clauses.
Formation of complex sentences
To make a complex sentence, we normally should have three main things- One or more subordinate clauses (dependent clauses), an independent clause and suitable linking words such as Subordinating Conjunctions, relative pronouns, and relative adverbs. The subordinate clause may be an adverb clause, an adjective clause, or a noun clause.
1. Formation of complex sentence with an adverb clause
We can form a complex sentence by combining an adverb clause with a simple sentence (independent clause.)
- When he reached New York, he informed his mother over phone. (adverb clause of time)
- He planted the rose where his mother liked. (adverb clause of place)
- If he makes a promise, he is sure to keep it. (adverb clause of condition)
- I am sorry that I cannot attend the meeting. (adverb clause of reason /cause)
- I began to run so fast that I could reach the Railway station before the train left. (adverb clause of result /consequence)
- we shall go to the picnic even if it rains. (adverb clause of concession/contrast).
- He treats him as his younger brother. (adverb clause of manner)
- No one can sing better than Mary. (adverb clause of comparison)
2. Formation of complex sentence with an adjective clause or relative clause.
We can form a complex sentence by combining an adjective clause with a simple sentence (independent clause.) You have already seen before, that we join the relative clause with main clause using relative pronouns(who, which, whom, whose and that ) or relative adverb(where, when and why)
- This is the boy who wishes to become his collage’s ‘best student of the year’. (Defining relative clause)
- My sister, who is a rank holder, has got appointment in my school as a teacher. (Non-Defining relative clause)
3. Formation of complex sentence with a noun clause
We can form a complex sentence by combining a noun clause with a simple sentence (independent clause.) You know that the noun clauses are clauses which act as nouns. In other words, they can be subjects, objects (both direct and indirect), the object of a preposition, in apposition to a noun, adjective complement, or a predicate noun.
- She told him that she was going to USA for higher studies. (The clause, “that she was going to USA for higher studies”, is a noun clause. It is the object of the verb, “told”)
- She was surprised at what they are doing. (The clause, “what they are doing ” is a noun clause. It is the object of the preposition, “at”.)
- What you said about the boy is not correct (The clause, “What you said about the boy”, is the subject of the verb, “is”, hence noun clause)
General Punctuation rule of complex sentence: The complex sentences are flexible. When the dependent clause is placed first, we separate it with a comma. But when the sentence is introduced by the independent clause, no comma is usually required.
Complex sentences show the relationships between the main parts of the sentence clearly. Therefore, they are more effective than compound sentences. For example, an adverbial clause of time tells us the time when an event took place/takes/will take place. Similarly, we now know that there are various types of dependent clauses, which give us a lot of information about the main clause. Thus, a complex sentence is more effective than the other two sentence structures discussed above.