A sentence with one independent clause and one more dependent clauses is called a complex sentence. When a complex sentence has more than one independent clause, it is called a compound complex sentence. Before we go into details of complex sentences, let us have a basic understanding the following 04 types of sentences

  1. Simple sentence
  2. Compound sentence
  3. Complex sentence
  4. Compound complex sentence

Let us understand the above o4 types of sentences with the following examples:

  1. Jack bought a car.
  2. Ricky was a brilliant student and he passed the exam easily.
  3. John did not did not go to school yesterday since he was sick.
  4. James ran fast but he could not win the race because his start was late.

Look at the first sentence which has only one subject and one predicate and makes a complete sense by itself. Such a sentence is called a simple sentence.

Look at the second sentence. It contains two parts:

  • Ricky was a brilliant student.
  • He passed the exam easily.

Note that a coordinating conjunction, and has been used to connect the two parts. Each part contains a subject & a predicate on its own and each part can stand on its own. Therefore each part is a sentence which is a part of a large sentence. This type of part is called a clause. We can also note that each clause is independent of the other and therefore can be called an independent clause. Thus a sentence such as the 2nd which is made up of two or more independent clauses is called a compound sentence.

You need to keep in mind that the coordinating conjunctions used to connect two independent clauses are and, but, for, or, nor, yet & so. Also the punctuation mark semicolon (;) can function as a coordinating conjunction in some cases.

Now look at the third sentence, it too has two parts:

  • John did not did not go to school yesterday.
  • Since he was sick.

Here you will understand that the first clause is an independent clause. However the second clause can only give a complete sense only when you read it along with the first clause. Such a clause is called a dependent clause.

Therefore a sentence such as the third which is made up of one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses is called a complex sentence.

Now look at the fourth sentence, it has 03 parts (or clauses):

  • James ran fast
  • He could not win the race
  • Because his start was late

You should note that the first two clauses are independent clauses and the third clause is a dependent clause.

Thus a sentence such as the 4th containing two or more independent clauses with one or more dependent clauses is called a compound complex sentence.

We have now discussed the different types of sentences containing more than one clause which we identified as independent or dependent clause. In the next page we will discuss more about dependent clauses which can be grouped in to 03 sub-categories as noun clauses, adjective clauses and adverb clauses.

Complex Sentences: Introduction
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