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Compound and Complex Sentences

Compound Sentences

Two independent clauses (two simple sentences) joined by a coordinator is known as a compound sentence.  The seven coordinators are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.  If you take the first letters of each coordinator, they spell FANBOYS. This makes it easier to remember.

Independent Clause + coordinator + Independent Clause = Compound Sentence 

To better understand compound sentences, look at the examples below.

  1. The company built a new factory, so they are hiring new employees.
  2. Some students study better in the morning, and other students study better in the evening.
  3. Students often go to a gym to get exercise, but it is better to get exercise in the open air.

Complex Sentences

complex sentence is an independent clause joined by one or more dependent clauses.  When we join these two clauses together, we use subordinators, such as after, before, because, since, or when.

We can also use a relative pronoun such as who, that, or which.

Independent Clause + subordinator + Dependent Clause = Complex Sentence

Look at the examples below.

  1. After Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, people did not need to use kerosene lights.
  2. Because students study hard, they need to get enough exercise everyday.
  3. Students often leave the classroom when they are finished taking a test.

Note: When a dependent clause is followed by an independent clause, the comma is used. When an independent clause is followed by a dependent clause, the comma is not used.

Sentences with an adjective clause are also called a complex sentence, because they contain an independent clause and a dependent clause.

  1. The school usually has graduation in the park where the lake is.
  2. Thomas Edison, who made over one thousand inventions, died at the age of 84 in 1931.
  3. The company that makes computer components is hiring new employees.
  4. People who are kind to others are happier.

NOTE: Sentence Fragments are commonly seen when using dependent clauses. A dependent clause has a subject and verb, but it does not express a complete thought. Dependent Clauses need Independent Clauses to be considered a complete sentence.

Look at the examples below.

  1. After the project was finished.
  • What happened after the project was finished?
  • Correct: After the project was finished, the researches published their findings.
  1. When they gave the blankets and food to the hungry.
  • What happen when they gave the blankets and food to the hungry?
  • Correct: When they gave the blankets and food to the hungry, other people joined them in the fight against poverty.
  1. Mother Theresa, who helped the poor of Calcutta.
  • The dependent clause identifies Mother Theresa, but it does not tell us what she did.
  • Correct: Mother Theresa, who helped the poor of Calcutta, influenced thousands to have compassion on the less fortunate.

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