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

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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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