Grammar Basics: The Complex Sentence

So far we discussed the simple sentence and the compound sentence. Today we will discus the complex sentence.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

What is a complex sentence?

Simply put, a complex sentence is the combination of a dependent clause and an independent clause. You know what an independent clause. A dependent clause is a clause that is dependent on another clause to make it a complete thought.

For example: Although I am busy, I will make the time to write 500 words today.

(The dependent clause is “Although I am busy.” The independent clause is “I will make time to write 500 words today.”)

>>If you take away the “although,” you will notice that “I am busy” is an independent clause. “I am busy” became a dependent clause when the “although” was added to the clause. The “although” is a subordinating conjunction.

Subordinating Conjunctions

When writing a complex sentence, you have to decide (consciously or unconsciously) which clause is more important. When that decision is made, you will add a subordinating conjunction to the lesser clause, rendering dependent on the independent clause. (Subordinate means something that is of a less importance or order.)

Let’s use the above example again but switch it around:

Although I will make the time to write 500 words today, I am busy. (The dependent clause is “although I will make the time to write 500 words today” and the independent clause is “I am busy.”)
This sentence sounds a little awkward, doesn’t it? Still, look at the first part of the sentence: “although I will make the time to write 500 words today.” It doesn’t stand on its own, does it? No, it doesn’t. That one little word – the subordinating conjunction – makes a world of a difference!

List of Subordinating Conjunctions

Here are some of the most common subordinating conjunctions that are used to create complex sentences:

after, although, as, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order that, once, rather than,  since, so that, though, unless, until, when, whenever, while

There are others. The most important thing to know about complex sentences is that they contain both a dependent and independent clause. Additionally, any group of words that isn’t a complete thought (whether it has a subordinating conjunction or not) is a dependent clause and must be connected to an independent clause in order to work.

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Grammar Basics: The Compound Sentence

Last week was all about the simple sentence and this week is al about the compound sentence.

Grammar Basics: Compound Sentences

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What is a compound sentence?

To REFRESH: A sentence is a set of words that have been brought together into a complete thought. A sentence is also called an independent clause because it can stand on its own.

Well, a compound sentence is a sentence that contains two or more independent clauses (sentences).

For example: Anna writes every day so she can write one book a month.

(The two independent clauses are “Anna writes every day.” and “She can write one book a month.” As you can see, both of theses sentences can stand alone as independent sentences but are brought together into one compound sentence with the coordinating conjunction “so.”)

Compound Sentences and Coordinating Conjunctions

Compound sentences are usually created by inserting coordinating conjunctions between the independent clauses. The purpose of coordinating conjunctions is to show indicate the relationship between the independent clauses in a compound sentence. The most common coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

A few years ago, I took a class and the instructor suggested using the acronym FANBOYS to help remember the coordinating conjunctions and their relationship within a sentence.

For = reason, and = addition, nor = not another option, but = contrast, or = another option, yet = contrasting addition, so = result

If you ever get confused whether a sentence is a compound sentence or not, take the clause apart and see if you can make two separate sentences out of it. If you can then you know it is a proper compound sentence. If you can’t, then you probably have a fragment in your sentence and will need to add some form of punctuation.

We will discuss fragments and punctuation in future posts. In the meantime, next week we will talk about complex sentences.

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Grammar Basics: The Simple Sentence

Today, and for the next few weeks, I am going back to basics and giving you short tutorials on some important grammar basics. These basics are important because they lay the foundation for writing well. And, because it is the most fundamental to writing, we are starting with simple sentences.

Grammar Basics: Simple Sentences

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

First of all, what is a sentence?

A sentence is a set of words that have been brought together into a complete thought. A sentence is also called an independent clause because it can stand on its own.

At it’s very minimum, a sentence must have a noun (a person, place, thing or idea that does an action) and a predicate (a verb that expresses an action or being).

For example: “Janet writes.” or “Pat types.” (These sentences are only two words but they both contain complete thoughts – along with one noun – Janet and Pat – and one predicate – writes and types.)

Of course, most sentences are longer and have several words in them such as prepositional phrases or complements, even simple sentences.

The Simple Sentence

There are several types of sentences: simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences. In this post we will focus on simple sentences.

The simple sentence contains only ONE independent clause.

For example: “Frank reads.” (As the above, this is as simple as it gets.)

For example:  “Frank reads a book.” (This sentence is a simple sentence because it contains one complete thought even though it includes a direct object (book).

For example: “Frank returned the book to the book shelf.” (This sentence is a bit longer but it is still a simple sentence because it only contains one complete thought. Frank – noun, returned – predicate, the – article adjective, book – direct object, to the book shelf – prepositional phrase.)

The simple sentence is just that – simple. Things get a little more complicated when we get involved with the other types of sentences and next week we are going to talk about compound sentences.

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