Home GRAMMAR Simple, Compound and Complex Sentences

Simple, Compound and Complex Sentences

Simple Sentence

A simple sentence structure contains one independent clause and no dependent clauses. It has only one Subject and one Predicate.

e.g. He reads.
This simple sentence has one independent clause which contains one subject, he, and one verb, reads.

e.g. They were playing cricket on the ground.
This simple sentence has one independent clause which contains one subject, they, and one predicate, were playing cricket on the ground.

e.g. In the evening, he came and helped her.
This simple sentence has one independent clause which contains one subject, he, and one predicate, came and helped her. This predicate has two verbs, known as a compound predicate: came and helped. This compound verb should not be confused with a compound sentence.

  • Despite being ill, he took the exams.
  • On seeing the police, he ran away.
  • Having completed the work, he went home.
  • She is an intelligent girl.
  • He took his father’s advice.
The Simple Sentence contains a subject and verb. It expresses a complete thought.

e.g. Henry (subject) plays (verb) football every afternoon.
[In this sentence there is only one independent clause and there might be multiple dependent phrases joined by non-finite verbs (gerund, participle, infinitive).]

i. While going (non-finite verb: present participle) there, I (subject) met (finite verb) him.
ii. Despite being (non-finite verb: present participle) sick, he attended (finite verb) the meeting.
iii. There is no use of conjunction (to join clauses) in simple sentences. But joining words can be used by ‘and’.  (e.g. i. Bread and butter are my breakfast. ii. Rahman and Salim are two friends.)


Compound Sentence

A compound sentence is composed of at least two independent clauses. It does not require a dependent clause. It comprises of two or more Coordinate clauses.

  • The clauses are joined by a coordinating conjunction, a semicolon that functions as a conjunction, a colon instead of a semicolon between two sentences when the second sentence explains or illustrates the first sentence and no coordinating conjunction is being used to connect the sentences, or a conjunctive adverb preceded by a semicolon. A conjunction can be used to make a compound sentence.
  • Coordinating Conjunctions are words such as for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

i. I burnt midnight oil, but I could not complete the task.
ii. I will help you or he will help; these are the two options.
iii.  The law decision was made: from April 1, 2022, all lectures would be conducted in offline mode only.
iv. He joined the cricket team; remarkably, he excelled at the sport.

  • He was ill, but he attended the meeting.
  • John hurt Clara, yet she cares for him a lot.
  • He saw the police and he ran away.
  • Do not touch the electric wire or you will get the shock.
  • She was scared, so she did not open the door.
In Compound Sentence, there are multiple Independent Clauses and no dependent clause. All the clauses are joined together by coordinating conjunctions. Such sentences have two finite verbs and two subjects.

i. I (subject) tried (finite verb) to speak Spanish, and my friend (subject) tried (finite verb) to speak English.
ii. John (subject) played (finite verb) football, so Sophia (subject) went (finite verb) for shopping. 


Complex Sentence

A complex sentence has one or more dependent clauses (also called subordinate clauses). It comprises of one Main clause and one or more Subordinate Clauses.

  • .Since a dependent clause cannot stand on its own as a sentence, complex sentences must also have at least one independent clause.
  • Simply, a sentence with one or more dependent clauses and at least one independent clause is a complex sentence.
  • A sentence with two or more independent clauses plus one or more dependent clauses is called compound-complex or complex-compound.
  • In addition to a subject and a verb, dependent clauses contain a subordinating conjunction or similar word.
  • There are a large number of subordinating conjunctions in English. Some of these give the clause an adverbial function, specifying time, place, or manner. Such clauses are called adverbial clauses.
    e.g. When I went out, it was very dark.
  • A relative clause is a dependent clause that modifies a noun or noun phrase in the independent clause. In other words, the relative clause functions similar to an adjective.
    e.g. She is a girl who is very intelligent.
  • If you work hard, you will pass the exam.
  • They did not go there because it was raining heavily.
  • Although he was very poor, he educated his children.
  • As it was very hot, everyone had cold drinks.
  • Unless you help, the problem will not be solved.
Complex sentence consists of at least one independent clause and one dependent clause. There are two finite verbs joined by subordinating conjunction. Subordinate conjunctions connect two unequal parts, e.g., dependent and independent clauses.

Here is the list of subordinating conjunctions:
Since, as, when, though, although, so that, whenever, because, than, whereas, that, wherever, that, whether, if, though, which, till, while, unless, who, until, why, how, what etc.

i. When (subordinator) he (subject) handed (finite verb) in his homework, he (subject) forgot (finite verb) to give the teacher the last page.

ii. The teacher (subject) returned (finite verb) the homework after (subordinator) she (subject) noticed (finite verb) the error.
iii. The students (subject) are studying (finite verb) because (subordinator) they (subject) have (finite verb) a test tomorrow.
iv. Roy (subject) and Rahman (subject) went (finite verb) to the movie after (subordinator) they (subject) finished (verb) studying.
v. The woman (subject), who (subordinate) my mom (subject) talked to, sells (verb) cosmetics.
vi. The book (subject) that (subordinate) Harry (subject) read, is (verb) on the shelf.
vi. The town (subject) where (subordinate) I (subject) grew up, is (verb) in UK.

useful english speaking expressions

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