Mastering Complex and Compound Sentences: A Guide


A complex sentence consists of one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. It is formed by connecting the clauses using subordinating conjunctions. A compound sentence, on the other hand, is made up of two or more independent clauses joined by coordinating conjunctions.

Independent vs Dependent Clause

An independent clause is a complete sentence that can stand alone and express a complete thought. It contains both a subject and a predicate. A dependent clause, also known as a subordinate clause, cannot stand alone as a sentence because it does not express a complete thought. It relies on an independent clause to make sense.

Examples of Independent Clauses:

  • I love to read books.
  • She sings beautifully.
  • We went to the beach.

Examples of Dependent Clauses:

  • After the rain stopped,
  • Because I was tired,
  • When she arrives,

Coordinating vs Subordinating Conjunction

Coordinating conjunctions are used to join independent clauses of equal importance and structure within a compound sentence. They can show a relationship of addition, contrast, choice, or other connections. Subordinating conjunctions, on the other hand, are used to introduce dependent clauses and connect them to independent clauses within a complex sentence. They indicate a relationship of dependence or subordination.

Examples of Coordinating Conjunctions:

  • I like coffee and I enjoy tea.
  • She is smart but sometimes lazy.
  • We can go by car or take the bus.

Examples of Subordinating Conjunctions:

  • After I finish my homework,
  • Although it was raining,
  • Because she was sick,

Examples: Complex vs Compound Sentence

Complex Sentence:

I felt tired because I had a long day at work.

More Examples of Complex Sentences:

  • I stared out of the window while I reminisced.
  • Supposing you are wrong, always have a backup plan.
  • Even though it was too hot to go out, we left for a long drive.

Compound Sentence:

I like coffee and I enjoy tea.

More Examples of Compound Sentences:

  • I was sitting beside you but I was somewhere else.
  • Kara’s advice was illogical, yet I considered following it.
  • I haven’t been to Disneyland nor am I interested.


Elements Complex Sentence Compound Sentence
Clause One Independent & at least one Dependent Two or more Independent
Conjunction Subordinating Coordinating

With a clear understanding of complex and compound sentences, you can effectively use them to convey different types of information and create more varied and engaging writing.

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