Complex Sentence: Meaning, Examples and Practice Questions

Crafting complex sentence structures can add sophistication and depth to your writing. A complex sentence is made up of an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. Here’s a comprehensive tutorial to help you understand and construct complex sentences effectively:

1. Independent Clause (IC):

An independent clause is a complete thought that can stand alone as a sentence.
Example: “She completed her assignment.”

2. Dependent Clause (DC):

A dependent clause is an incomplete thought that cannot stand alone and relies on an independent clause.
Example: “Because she studied hard.”

3. Subordinating Conjunctions:

These words signal the relationship between the independent and dependent clauses. Common subordinating conjunctions include “because,” “although,” “since,” “if,” etc.
Example: “Although,” “because,” “while,” “when,” etc.

4. Combine Independent and Dependent Clauses:

Use a subordinating conjunction to connect the independent and dependent clauses.
Example: “She completed her assignment because she studied hard.”

5. Punctuation:

  • Commas: When the dependent clause comes before the independent clause, use a comma to separate them. Example: “Because she needed groceries, she went to the store.”
  • No Comma: If the independent clause comes before the dependent clause, you typically don’t need a comma. Example: “She went to the store because she needed groceries.”

6. Relative Pronouns:

Instead of using subordinating conjunctions, you can connect clauses using relative pronouns (who, which, that).
Example:
“The student who studied hard completed her assignment.”

7. Multiple Dependent Clauses:

You can have more than one dependent clause in a complex sentence.
Example: “Although she was tired because she studied hard, she completed her assignment before the deadline.”

Step-by-step Tutorial for Complex Sentences:

Let’s walk through the process of transforming a simple sentence into a complex sentence step by step, using different examples:

Simple Sentence:

Example:

  • “She sings.”

Step 1: Identify the Main Clause:

  • “She sings.”

Step 2: Determine Additional Information:

  • Let’s add more information about when or why she sings.

Step 3: Choose a Subordinating Conjunction:

  • Let’s use “when.”

Step 4: Create a Dependent Clause:

  • “when she’s happy.”

Step 5: Form the Complex Sentence:

  • Example 1: “She sings when she’s happy.”
  • Example 2: “When she’s happy, she sings.”


Another Example:

Simple Sentence:

Example:

  • “He runs.”

Step 1: Identify the Main Clause:

  • “He runs.”

Step 2: Determine Additional Information:

  • Let’s add more information about why he runs.

Step 3: Choose a Subordinating Conjunction:

  • Let’s use “because.”

Step 4: Create a Dependent Clause:

  • “because he wants to stay fit.”

Step 5: Form the Complex Sentence:

  • Example 1: “He runs because he wants to stay fit.”
  • Example 2: “Because he wants to stay fit, he runs.”


One More Example:

Simple Sentence:

Example:

  • “They play music.”

Step 1: Identify the Main Clause:

  • “They play music.”

Step 2: Determine Additional Information:

  • Let’s add more information about where they play music.

Step 3: Choose a Subordinating Conjunction:

  • Let’s use “where.”

Step 4: Create a Dependent Clause:

  • “where they feel inspired.”

Step 5: Form the Complex Sentence:

  • Example 1: “They play music where they feel inspired.”
  • Example 2: “Where they feel inspired, they play music.”

By following these steps, you can turn simple sentences into complex sentences by incorporating additional details or information using subordinating conjunctions. This adds variety and depth to your writing.

List of Subordinating Conjunctions with examples

Subordinating conjunctions are words that connect an independent clause (a complete sentence) with a dependent clause (an incomplete sentence) and establish a relationship between them. Here are examples of sentences with subordinating conjunctions:

  1. Although: Although it was raining, they decided to go for a walk.

  2. Because: She stayed indoors because it was too cold outside.

  3. Since: Since she finished her work early, she decided to go to the gym.

  4. While: While he was studying for the exam, his friends were playing video games.

  5. After: After the rain stopped, we went outside to enjoy the fresh air.

  6. Before: Please finish your homework before you watch TV.

  7. If: If you finish your dinner, you can have dessert.

  8. Unless: You won’t pass the test unless you study.

  9. As: She sang a lullaby as the baby fell asleep.

  10. Though: Though it was late, they continued the meeting to finalize the project details.

  11. Until: He will wait until you finish your phone call before discussing the matter.

  12. Because of: The game was canceled because of heavy rain.

List of Relative Pronouns with examples

Relative pronouns are used to introduce dependent clauses (also known as relative clauses) and connect them to the main clause. Here is a list of relative pronouns that can be used to make complex sentences:

  1. Who: Used for people.

    • Example: The woman who is standing there is my neighbor.
  2. Whom: Used for people (object form).

    • Example: The person whom I met yesterday is a famous author.
  3. Whose: Shows possession and is used for both people and things.

    • Example: The car whose owner is my friend is parked outside.
  4. Which: Used for things and animals.

    • Example: The book which is on the table is very interesting.
  5. That: Used for both people and things.

    • Example: The house that we visited last week is for sale.
  6. Where: Used for places.

    • Example: The city where I was born is on the east coast.
  7. When: Used for times.

    • Example: The day when we met was sunny.
  8. Why: Used for reasons.

Practice Complex Sentence Questions

Here are 20 practice questions along with solutions, guiding you through the process of combining dependent and independent sentences to create complex sentences:

  1. Independent Clause: She loves to read.

    Dependent Clause: The books are always on her nightstand.

    Solution: She loves to read, and the books are always on her nightstand.

  2. Independent Clause: The sun was setting.
    Dependent Clause: We decided to go for a walk.

    Solution: The sun was setting when we decided to go for a walk.

  3. Independent Clause: The students worked hard.
    Dependent Clause: They wanted to impress their teacher.

    Solution: The students, who wanted to impress their teacher, worked hard.

  4. Independent Clause: The cat sleeps all day.
    Dependent Clause: It has a cozy bed by the window.

    Solution: The cat, which has a cozy bed by the window, sleeps all day.

  5. Independent Clause: He finished his homework.
    Dependent Clause: Before he went to bed.

    Solution: He finished his homework before he went to bed.

  6. Independent Clause: The chef prepared a delicious meal.
    Dependent Clause: He is known for his culinary skills.

    Solution: The chef, who is known for his culinary skills, prepared a delicious meal.

  7. Independent Clause: The movie ended.
    Dependent Clause: We went out for coffee.

    Solution: After the movie ended, we went out for coffee.

  8. Independent Clause: She won the award.
    Dependent Clause: Her performance was outstanding.

    Solution: She won the award because her performance was outstanding.

  9. Independent Clause: The dog barked.
    Dependent Clause: The mailman approached the house.

    Solution: The dog barked as the mailman approached the house.

  10. Independent Clause: He missed the train.
    Dependent Clause: He didn’t set his alarm.

    Solution: Because he didn’t set his alarm, he missed the train.

  11. Independent Clause: The flowers bloomed.
    Dependent Clause: The spring arrived.

    Solution: The flowers bloomed when the spring arrived.

  12. Independent Clause: She practiced the piano.
    Dependent Clause: Her recital was just around the corner.

    Solution: She practiced the piano because her recital was just around the corner.

  13. Independent Clause: The child was crying.
    Dependent Clause: He lost his favorite toy.

    Solution: The child, who lost his favorite toy, was crying.

  14. Independent Clause: The rain poured down.
    Dependent Clause: We decided to stay indoors.

    Solution: Since the rain poured down, we decided to stay indoors.

  15. Independent Clause: They built a sandcastle.
    Dependent Clause: The beach was crowded with families.

    Solution: They built a sandcastle while the beach was crowded with families.

  16. Independent Clause: He drove carefully.
    Dependent Clause: The roads were icy.

    Solution: He drove carefully because the roads were icy.

  17. Independent Clause: The baby slept peacefully.
    Dependent Clause: The lullaby played softly in the background.

    Solution: While the lullaby played softly in the background, the baby slept peacefully.

  18. Independent Clause: She got a promotion.
    Dependent Clause: She worked late every night.

    Solution: She got a promotion because she worked late every night.

  19. Independent Clause: The door creaked open.
    Dependent Clause: The wind howled outside.

    Solution: As the wind howled outside, the door creaked open.

  20. Independent Clause: They enjoyed the concert.
    Dependent Clause: The band played all their favorite songs.

    Solution: They enjoyed the concert because the band played all their favorite songs.

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