Complex Sentences for intermediate learners

A complex sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. In this lesson, we will learn all about this type!

"Complex Sentences" in the English Grammar

What Are Complex Sentences?

A complex sentence consists of one independent clause along with one or more dependent clauses We will learn all about them in this lesson.

Dependent Vs. Independent Clause

As you may know, dependent clauses cannot be used alone because they must rely on other clauses to become complete, independent clauses are complete and meaningful alone. Compare the following examples with each other:

I have three cats and a dog.

Here, we have an independent clause.

When you came into my room...

As you can see, the sentence has a subject and a verb, but it is not complete.


We can use complex sentences in order to connect independent and dependent clauses together. This way we can write more fluently. Take a look at the following examples:

When she came into my room, she looked like she had just run from hell.

If Anna keeps talking, I swear to God I will kill her.


It might come in handy to know that we can change the places of the dependent and independent clauses in complex sentences. Take a look at the examples below:

I was angry because of all the lies you had told me.

Because of all the lies you had told me, I was angry.

Spotting Complex Sentences

In order to find complex sentences, we can search for subordinating conjunctions. They are markers used to connect dependent clauses to independent ones. Take a look at the list below to learn some of the most commonly-used subordinating conjunctions:

Now, let us see some examples below:

If you go back to him, you will get hurt again.

As you can see, the dependent clause has been used with 'if'.

Since you didn't come to the party, you are not allowed to ask questions about it.

When Bill rejected her calls, she became really anxious.

Punctuation Rules

The only punctuation rule we can apply to complex sentences is to use a comma between the clauses when the dependent clause comes first. Compare the following sentences:

When you came into our room, you looked terrible.

You looked terrible when you came into our room.

Complex vs. Compound Sentences

The only difference between complex and compound sentences is that compound sentences join two independent clauses together whereas, in a complex sentence, we must have at least one dependent clause. Compare the following examples carefully:

That coffee is brewed and this one is decaf.

Here, this is a compound sentence because each clause is independent.

You can talk to me if you want.

As you can see , this is a complex sentence and we have a dependent clause.


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Sentences are formed by putting words next to each other, but we do not always need more than one word to make a meaningful sentence.

Simple Sentences

Most of us learned how to put three words together to make sentences in kindergarten: I love puppies! Games are fun! Let's learn all about simple sentences!

Compound Sentences

In this lesson, we will study compound sentences and learn how to create them by joining two or more independent clauses together.

Compound-complex Sentences

A compound-complex sentence is comprised of at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. Let's get to know it in detail!

Word Order

Word order refers to the order or arrangement of words in a phrase, clause, or sentence. In order to study them in more detail, take a look at this article!

Cleft Sentences

Cleft sentences are complex sentences that have a meaning we can express by a simple sentence. They are used to emphasize one part of a clause.

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