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

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.

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