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Compound, Complex, and Compound-Complex Sentences

The structure of all types of sentences is mainly based on basic word order rules. A simple sentence consists of one clause comprising a subject and predicate. Other components may include a direct object, indirect object, and subject complement.

Arranging words in a simple sentence is easy. The subject is followed by a predicate, while the object is placed after the predicate. The knowledge of a basic word order rule will help structure compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences.

Compound Sentences

Compound sentences include two or even more independent clauses. The most important point here is “independent,” which means that each clause can be a separate sentence. Every part of a sentence will contain a subject and a predicate, following it. To connect two parts, it’s necessary to use a coordinating conjunction, like “but,” “or,” “and,” “yet,” or “so.” A semicolon can also be placed to connect two parts of a sentence.

Here are a few examples of compound sentences:

  • ✔️ Nancy lives in New York, and her sister lives in Florida.
  • ✔️ Tom invited them to a party, but they didn’t come.
  • ✔️ You can go home, or you can wait in a hall.

Complex Sentences

A phrase containing an independent clause and a dependent clause is called a complex sentence. Such a phrase provides a lot of information about a subject. However, a dependent clause can’t exist without an independent clause. Actually, it can, but it will never be a complete sentence. For example:

  • When it gets dark
  • ✔️ When it gets dark, we’ll see stars

Of course, both independent and dependent clauses contain a subject and a predicate. So, why can’t a dependent clause be a complete sentence? The answer is simple – a subordinating conjunction is always used at the beginning of a dependent clause if it’s a part of a complex sentence. It can be started with “until,” “in case,” “because,” “while,” “if,” “after,” or “that.” A subject and predicate will follow a subordinating conjunction in a dependent clause. If a dependent clause is used at the beginning of a sentence, it’s necessary to separate a sentence with a comma. The following examples will show how complex sentences look like:

  • ✔️ After Mona washed her hands, she ate her salad.
  • ✔️ He decided to wake up early because he didn’t want to be late.
  • ✔️ If you ever travel to Germany, visit the Rhododendron Park in Bremen.

Compound-Complex Sentences

Compound-complex sentences are easily recognized because they contain a few independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. Basically, they are formed by combining compound and complex sentences. These long phrases help us explain complicated ideas and describe things in detail. Typically, a dependent clause is started with a subordinating conjunction – a subject and predicate follow it. Independent clauses are easily identified because they can be complete sentences. They can also be connected with coordinating conjunctions and separated with commas. The following examples will help get the idea of compound-complex sentences:

  • Green – independent clause.
  • Blue – dependent clause.
  • He bought new shoes, but they got dirty because it started to rain.
  • When Ben looked back, he didn’t see her, so he went home.
  • Although she was angry, Betty decided to stay at the office and she joined other managers.

Structuring Sentences Correctly

We don’t use only simple sentences because we often need to present more information. That’s why learning to put words in larger phrases correctly is essential. Wrong placement of a subject, verb or any other component can change the meaning of a sentence or even make it useless. When writing compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences, it’s necessary to identify the clauses properly. After adding conjunctions, a phrase will become complete and really meaningful.

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