Follow US:

Practice English Speaking&Listening with: SIMPLE, COMPOUND, COMPLEX SENTENCES - with Examples, Exercises - Sentence Clause Structure - Grammar

Difficulty: 0

Hey there, and welcome back.

In this lesson, we're going to learn all about simple, compound and complex sentences.

Many of you have asked me to do a lesson on this topic, so here we are.

Now, in this video, I'll show you the differences between these three types of sentences, and

there are exercises within the lesson for you to practice what you learn.

So, let's begin.

So, what is a simple sentence?

A simple sentence is just a sentence that contains a subject and a verb.

For example, I am a teacher.

Here, the subject isIand the verb isam.”

Here's another one: She took a cab to the airport.

Can you identify the subject and the verb here?

The subject issheand the verb istook.”

One more example: We're having pizza for dinner tonight.

In this sentence, the subject iswe,” and the verb is actually the phraseare


It has two words: first, the auxiliary or the helping verbareand then the main

verbhaving,” but still, “are havingis a phrase that acts as a single verb.

So, in all of these sentences you see that they have a subject and a verb, so these are

simple sentences.

Now, there's another name for a simple sentence, and that is an independent clause.

This means more or less the same thing as a simple sentence, but just remember that

it's another name for a simple sentence.

So, what's a compound sentence then?

Well, a compound sentence is just a sentence that has two independent clauses.

We saw that a simple sentence has just one clause, but a compound sentence has two (or

sometimes more) independent clauses.

Take a look at this example: I am a teacher.

My wife is a lawyer.

What we have here is two separate independent clauses or simple sentences, and the problem

with this is that it sounds choppy and disconnected when we say it like that: I am a teacher.

My wife is a lawyer.

Instead, we can combine them like this: I am a teacher, and my wife is a lawyer.

This sounds much better, and now we have one compound sentence with the two independent

clauses connected by the conjunctionand.”

Here's another example: She tried to lift the suitcase.

The suitcase was too heavy.

We can combine these clauses usingbut”: She tried to lift the suitcase, but it was

too heavy.

Notice that we have the worditin the second part.

Now, “itis a pronoun that just refers to the suitcase.

It makes the sentence sound better by avoiding repetition.

Next example: He didn't have enough cash.

He paid by credit card.

We can connect these clauses usingso”: He didn't have enough cash, so he paid by

credit card.

One last example: We can take a bus to the museum.

We can just walk there.

What we see here is two options; two different ways to get to the museum.

We can connect these usingor”: We can take a bus to the museum, or we can just walk


Now, the connecting words that you see in these examples, “and,” “but,” “so,”

or,” etc.

These words are called coordinating conjunctions.

That's a fancy word, but it just means that these are connecting words that connect two

independent clauses.

And there's another important point here: you see that in all of the examples, when

we connect the two independent clauses, we put a comma after the first clause.

Now, this is the proper form: you write the first independent clause, then you put a comma

after it, and then a conjunction, and then you write the second clause.

Remember this rule.

OK, we're going to practice this now.

You see five items on the screen.

In each one, I want you to combine the simple sentences into one compound sentence.

Use a coordinating conjunction likeand,” “but,” “or,” orsoto make the

compound sentence.

Stop the video now, try the exercise, and then play the video again and check.

OK, let's discuss them.

Number one: She dropped her phone on the floor, and it broke.

Number two: I'm not very hungry, so I'll just have an orange juice.

Three: You should study harder, or you'll fail the exam.

Four: We'd like to buy a car, but we can't afford one right now.

And number five is a little tricky because there are three simple sentences or three

independent clauses.

But we can connect them using coordinating conjunctions.

I told my roommate to turn down the TV, but he didn't, so I got up and left.

How many did you get right?

Alright, let's now move on and talk about complex sentences.

Here's a clause first: When I got home from work yesterday.

What do you notice about it?

Well, it has a subjectIand a verbgot,” but this clause is just not a complete


And that's because if I say to you, “When I got home from work,” yesterday you will

ask, “OK, what happened?

What did you do?

So, you see this thought is not complete, so this is not an independent clause.

This type of clause is called a dependent clause.

To make it a complete sentence, you have to add an independent clause.

For example, When I got home from work yesterday, I watched TV for an hour.

So, you see that there is a dependent clause and an independent clause, and now it's a

complete sentence.

And this type of sentence is called a complex sentence.

Here are some more examples, but before I talk about them, in each one, I want you to

identify the dependent clause and the independent clause.

Stop the video and try the exercise, then play the video again and continue.

Alright, in number two, “I love to travelis the independent clause andbecause I

get to meet a lot of interesting peopleis the dependent clause.

Now, in sentence number one, we saw that the dependent clause came first, and here in number

two, the dependent clause comes second.

Thats OK.

In complex sentences, you can put the clauses in any order; that's no problem.

Alright, number three: “Even though the exam was quite difficultis the dependent

clause, andAll the students passedis the independent clause.

And number four: “Let me knowis independent, andif you need any helpis dependent.

And finally, number five: “You can't go out and playis the independent clause,

anduntil you finish your homeworkis the dependent clause.

Just remember that to decide whether a clause is dependent or independent, you ask the question,

Can this clause be a complete sentence on its own?”

If it can be a complete sentence, then it's an independent clause, and if it cannot be

a complete sentence, then it's a dependent clause.

Now in all of these examples, you see that the dependent clauses start with a linking

word likewhen,” “because,” “even though,” “if,” anduntil.”

These words are conjunctions, but they're called subordinating conjunctions.

The dependent clauses are also called subordinate clauses; it means the same thing, so the conjunctions

are subordinating conjunctions.

If you remember from the previous section, we connected the independent clauses using

coordinating conjunctions, and here we're using subordinating conjunctions.

Now, there's one more thing I want you to notice here, and that is the use of commas.

In sentences 1 & 3, you see that there is a comma, but in sentences 2, 4 & 5 there's

no comma.

And this is because in 1 & 3, the dependent clause comes first.

If the dependent clause comes first, we put a comma after it, and then we write the independent


But in 2, 4 & 5, an independent clause comes first.

If that's the case, we don't put a comma after it.

Now, if you want to learn more about punctuation and about the proper use of commas, I have

a separate lesson just on that topic.

It's called punctuation masterclass; I will leave a link in the description.

You can go and check it out.

There's another type of dependent clause that you need to know about, and that is the relative


A relative clause uses a relative pronoun likewho,” “that,” “which,” etc.

For example, I know a guy who plays guitar in a rock band.

This sentence is actually a combination of two sentences: I know a guy, and He plays

guitar in a rock band.

Both of those are simple sentences, and we combine them using the relative pronounwho.”

So, “who plays guitar in a rock bandis a relative clause that gives us information

about the guy.

It tells you who that guy is.

But, that clause is not a complete sentence, and so, it's a dependent clause.

And the entire sentence is a complex sentence.

Here's another example: Synonyms are words that have similar meanings.

Here, “that have similar meaningsis the relative clause.

And one last example: The boss wants me to give a speech at the event, which is tomorrow.

Here, “which is tomorrowis the relative clause.

Now, I'm not going to go into detail on relative clauses here because they're a big topic,

and we'll have to explore them in a different lesson.

But for now, just remember that relative clauses can also be part of a complex sentence.

OK, I have another exercise for you.

You see six items on the screen.

In each one, I want you to combine the simple sentences into one complex sentence.

Use the word in the parentheses to do this.

Stop the video now, try the exercise, then play the video again and continue.

Now, there are different ways to rewrite each sentence.

I'll give you my answers.

Here's how I wrote the first one: People eat a lot of fast food nowadays even though they

know it's bad for their health.

Number two: You can't borrow any books from the library unless you have a membership.

Number three: She couldn't log in to her Gmail account because she had forgotten her password.

Four: Harvey was a vegetarian until he married Susie.

Now, this sentence is much shorter than the original two sentences, but it has the same


Number five: The man who lives in that house is a millionaire.

And finally, number six: Children shouldn't be allowed to play video games that contain


Were your answers the same as mine?

Let me know in the comments.

Before we close this lesson, I want to tell you about one more type of sentence: the compound-complex


This is simply a sentence with more than one independent clause (so it's a compound sentence)

and also with one or more dependent clauses (so it's a complex sentence).

For example, I was crazy about heavy metal when I was younger, but I'm more into jazz


Heavy metal and jazz are genres or types of music.

We see here that the first clause is independent: “I was crazy about heavy metal.”

Then, there's a dependent clause: “when I was younger,” then there's a coordinating

conjunctionbut,” and then another independent clause: “but I'm more into jazz now.”

So this is a compound-complex sentence.

Here's another example: “If it rains tomorrow, bring your umbrella, or you might catch a


Can you identify the different clauses here?

Well, the first clause is dependent: “If it rains tomorrow,” then there's an independent

clause: “bring your umbrella.”

Now you might be asking, how is this an independent clause?

I don't see a subject here.

Well, this type of clause is actually called an imperative, that is a request or a command,

and the subject is understood: it's basicallyyou,” so it's like sayingYou bring

your umbrella,” but in imperatives we usually leave out thatyou.”

Alright, then we have a coordinating conjunctionor,” and then another independent clause:

you might catch a cold.”

So, you see that compound-complex sentences are nothing special; they're just a combination

of a compound sentence and a complex sentence.

OK, remember that the whole purpose of learning about the different sentence types is to add

variety to your own speech and writing.

Whenever you speak, and especially whenever you write, whether it's emails, essays, reports,

stories, whatever it is, pay attention to the sentence types that you use.

Make sure to choose the best kind of sentence that expresses your message and helps your

writing to flow smoothly.

Alright, if you liked this lesson, give it a thumbs up by hitting the like button.

Also remember to subscribe by clicking the subscribe button to get my latest lessons

right here on YouTube.

Happy learning, and I will see you in another lesson soon.

The Description of SIMPLE, COMPOUND, COMPLEX SENTENCES - with Examples, Exercises - Sentence Clause Structure - Grammar