Welcome back to the grammar corner. Why is it the grammar corner you ask? Because most people want to shove those who are exceptional at grammar in the corner!
Okay, that’s enough cheesy jokes for now.
Today I’m going to tell you about compound and complex sentences. As writers, we need to use a variety of sentence structures and lengths to make our writing flow. Knowing the difference between a compound, a complex and even a simple sentence can help you with that.
So, to begin, let’s set the foundation by learning what makes a simple sentence.
A simple sentence is no more than a subject (noun) with a verb that expresses a complete thought.
Ex. The cat sat.
In this example the subject is “the cat” and the verb is “sat”. Three words, but it expresses a complete thought. Here’s another one:
Ex. Hugh Jackman hung from the chandelier.
A few more words, but it still fits the criteria. Hugh Jackman is the subject and hung is the verb.
Now that we have the basics down, let’s move on to compound sentences. Compound sentences simply combine two simple sentences with some kind of conjunction. You can find a list of conjunctions from this post (remember FANBOYS).
Ex. The cat sat and the dog played.
“And” joins two simple sentences. The cat sat. The dog played. Both can stand by themselves and be a grammatically correct, complete sentence. Joining the two sentences with a conjunction turns them into a compound sentence.
Ex. Hugh Jackman hung from the chandelier, and his adoring fans jumped to try to get him.
Two subjects–Hugh Jackman and fans–with their own verbs–hung and jumped. Separately they work as complete sentences. Joined together with a conjunction, they form a compound sentence.
Finally, we have complex sentences. Complex sentences join dependent clauses, which are not complete sentences on their own, to independent clauses, which will still be complete sentences by themselves.
Ex. When the sun shone through the window, the cat sat in the pool of light.
“The cat sat in the pool of light” is a complete sentence, but “when the sun shone through the window” isn’t. It has to be connected to an independent clause.
Ex. Although Hugh Jackman hung from the chandelier for hours, his adoring fans wouldn’t leave him alone.
The first part of this sentence is also a dependent clause. “His adoring fans wouldn’t leave him alone” is the independent clause that the first sentence needs to be connected to.
So there you go. Simple, compound and complex sentences. Not so hard.
One last thing. If you’ve got a burning grammar question, let me know in the comments and I might cover it in a future grammar corner.