Complex Sentences – Examples & Structure

Sentences are formed in many ways. There are different types of sentences that we use in our writing and speech. However, the basic sentences that we were taught in our kindergarten were simple sentences formed with a subject and a verb.

And these simple sentences, when further used with different clauses and elements, we get new types of sentences. And one such type of sentence is known as a complex sentence. It is called a complex sentence because, unlike regular simple sentences, it does not only contain independent clauses. It is a mixture of both independent and dependent clauses.

Let us get into a detailed discussion with examples to have a better understanding of complex sentences.

What are complex sentences?

Complex sentences are sentences formed by joining an independent clause and a dependent clause. Unlike simple sentences or compound sentences, complex sentences are not formed only with independent clauses.

To be more precise, an independent clause is a phrase that can stand alone and still convey a complete thought and make sense, while dependent clauses are those phrases that cannot stand alone. They cannot form a sentence on their own and convey a complete thought.

Let us understand with some examples;

I love drinking tea before I read the newspaper.

The above sentence is a complex sentence because it has both an independent and a dependent clause.

Now, the independent clause is the first half, “I love drinking tea”. It is independent because it can stand alone and make sense. However, the second half, “before I read the newspaper,” seems incomplete and cannot stand alone. It is dependent and relies on the first half to make sense.

Some more examples of complex sentences;

  • He returned the laptop after damaging the keyboard.
  • She cried when I complained about the shoe.
  • He took a bath before going to bed.

Forming complex sentences

We learned that complex sentences are formed by joining an independent clause and a dependent clause. But how do we know which comes first? Actually, there is no need to worry. Both independent and dependent clauses can come either first or second depending on the writer.

Independent + dependent:

I love eating noodles before I go to school.

Here, the first half is an independent clause, and the second half is dependent.
It is to notice that complex sentences with the independent clause have no commas or conjunctions.

However, commas can be used in such complex sentences when the two clauses are in contrast. For example;

She is unhappy, although she earns a lot of money.

Dependent + independent:

Although he is very intelligent, he failed his math test.

Here, the dependent clause comes first. It is important to know that whenever a dependent clause is used first, we add subordinate conjunctions like because, although, etc. It is because sometimes the dependent clauses can seem independent. So to change their view, we use such subordinate conjunctions.

These are the points that will help understand complex sentences. It is simply the outcome of an independent and dependent phrase.

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