Grammar Basics: The Compound-Complex Sentence

Okay, so far we have gone over the simple sentence, the compound sentence and, the complex sentence. Today we are going to form compound-complex sentences. And guess what, It’s easier than it seems.

Grammar Basics: The Compound-Complex Sentence

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

What is a Compound-complex Sentence?

Simply put, the compound-complex sentence is exactly what it sounds like: the combination of a compound sentence and a complex together into one large sentence.

If you want to be more technical, this is the “official” definition according to one of my former professors:

A compound-complex sentence consists of more than one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. In many cases, you are simply adding a dependent clause to the beginning or end of a compound sentence, or you are adding another independent clause to a complex sentence.”

If you remember, a compound sentence is a sentence that contains two or more independent clauses (a.k.a complete sentences). A complex sentence is a sentence that contains one independent clause and one dependent clause (which usually has a subordinating conjunction). Therefore, all to have to do is put them together to make a compound-complex sentence.

A Couple of Examples

Compound Sentence: I can read for an hour, or I can write for an hour.

Compound-complex sentence: Unless I get interrupted, I can read for an hour, or I can write for an hour.

“I can read for an hour” is an independent clause, “I can write for an hour” is an independent clause, and “Unless I get interrupted” is a dependent clause. So, putting the compound sentence with the dependent clause creates the compound-complex sentence.

Complex sentence: Although time is short, I would like to go to the post office.

Compound-complex sentence: Although time is short, I would like to go to the post office, so I can get the letter mailed out today.

“Although time is short” is the dependent clause, “I would like to go to the post office” is an independent clause, and “I can get the letter mailed out today” is an independent clause. So again, by putting together the complex sentence with another independent clause creates the compound-complex sentence.

The Trick

To make understanding and creating compound-complex sentences (or any sentence, for that matter) is to break it down. Separate the independent clauses from the dependent clauses and examine how and where they fit. Do they make sense on their own? Do they make sense together? If you do this, over time, you will discover that your writing will improve drastically.

And, that is why I have spent the last few weeks going over each sentence type. By going back to the basics and understanding the hows and the whys of a sentence your message will be clearer, more powerful, and more effective in the long run.

Next Steps

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For information about my proofreading and coaching services visit the work with me page.

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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.

Next Steps

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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

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

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.

Next Steps

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