What Is a Complex Sentence?- Definition Examples Rules Structure

In this lesson, you can learn how to make different types of complex sentence in English. Making and understanding complex sentences help your English writings. By making the use of a variety of complex sentence forms, your writing and reading definitely will become more versatile and elegant. Using a range of complex sentences in your writing is also important if you’re preparing for an English writing exam like IELTS, TOEFL, or FCE. In this lesson, we want to tell you who it’s for, what’s in it and what isn’t.

These sentences are all grammatically simple meaning that they each have one main verb. Now, you’ll see four different grammatical tools you can use to combine and add to these sentences to make them richer and more complex.

Definition of Complex Sentence

what is complex sentence?

A complex sentence contains at least one independent clause and one dependent clause. In a complex sentence, the independent clause has the main information and the dependent clause provide details. The independent clause has a subject and a predicate and makes a complete thought that is why it is a complete sentence. The independent clause is a group of words that can stand alone as a sentence. The predicate has verb + complement. Examples of independent clauses: The dog ate popcorn. The cat ran quickly. He ate chocolate. Carmen drinks black coffee. She went to the county fair. Tom writes letters in French. I picked a flower for you. My mom is nice. The woman taught me how to read. The woman sang.

Complex Sentence Examples

My name is Lily. I travel extensively .Pandas eat bamboo!

I’m visiting China this summer.

We really love pandas. Some pandas are really giant.

What is a complex sentence?

A complex sentence is a group of words that has at least one independent clause and at least one subordinate clause. An independent clause has a subject a verb and states a complete thought. A subordinate or dependent clause has a subject, a verb and a subordinate.

Subordinate Conjunctions

Subordinate Conjunctions are words that explain relationships between clauses so it could include words like before or after that explain when things happen. It can also include words like unless or if that explained conditions. So if one thing happens then another thing has to happen or maybe one thing can’t happen unless something else happens. It also could include words like because. It explained why and these are just some examples. There are a lot of different subordinate conjunctions. Now let’s look at some examples of complex sentences that have all of these different parts.


‘Mom cooked dinner because we were hungry.’

Here we have one independent clause ‘mom cooked dinner’ so this can stand alone is a complete sentence. we also have a subordinate or dependent clause ‘because we were hungry’. So this group of words has a subordinate conjunction ‘because’ which is at the beginning of it. It doesn’t make sense to say this as a sentence on its own but when we attach it to ‘mom cooked dinner’ now we’re explaining why mom cooked dinner.

So, this part of the sentence is giving us more information. It’s explaining why mom cooked dinner for us. So, we have an independent clause and a subordinate clause and we have that subordinate conjunction that is ‘because’. Now we have a complex sentence so I know that was a lot of information for you.

So, now let’s look at one more example:

‘If you stay up too late you might be tired tomorrow.’

Let’s see if we can find our independent clause that can’t stand alone as a sentence. The sentence ‘If you stay up too late’ now if you say that this doesn’t sound right as a complete sentence. We have the word ‘if’ which is a subordinate conjunction. So, while this gives us important information this is not an independent clause this is our dependent or subordinate clause.

So let’s look a little further to see if we can find our independent clause

‘you might be tired tomorrow’.

Now this can stand alone as a complete sentence so this is our independent clause.

Remember the Condition for Complex Sentence

Independent Clause

So remember a complex sentence has to have an independent clause and a subordinate clause that has a subordinate conjunction. So, let’s see if we have all of those things in this sentence.

First let’s see if we have an ‘independent clause’ and we do ‘you might be tired tomorrow’.

Dependent Clause

Now let’s see if we have a subordinate or a dependent clause in the sentence,

‘If you stay up too late.’

Yes we do and our subordinate conjunction that is in that subordinate clause is the word ‘if’. So ‘if’ explains the relationship between the two clauses. It’s explaining that if one thing happens then another thing will happen. So, it explains how these two events go together. Hence, this is a complex sentence because we have all of the necessary parts.

Let’s review that one more time a complex sentence is a group of words that has at least one independent clause and at least one subordinate.

FAQs about Complex Sentences

What is the structure of a complex sentence?

The subject and predicate create the two fundamental structural parts of any sentence. Remember, the sentence should be a complete sentence. In addition, there are other fundamentals, contained within the subject or predicate, adding meaning or detailed expression. Furthermore, these elements contain the direct object, indirect object, and subject complement.

What is a complex sentence example?

Using complex sentences, we provide more information to support our opinion. For example, “because he didn’t score runs in last match, he didn’t sent on batting in the next match.”

How can you tell if a sentence is complex?

It comprises an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. An independent clause can stance alone as a sentence, but a dependent clause must have a subject and a verb. It cannot stand alone.

What are 5 examples of complex sentence?

1. Smith wanted to attend the meeting but his family issues reserved him.
2. As soon as Joseph left the class, I started reading very loud.
3. Even though they were poor, they help the needy.
4. Daniel could not come with Lira, he had to go to office.
5. The child didn’t want to go to the child specialist, though he is very disturbed and sick.

Key Learning Words

  • Complex sentence Complex sentence examples
  • Compound complex sentence
  • Compound complex sentence examples
  • Sentence of compound
  • Simple compound and complex sentences
  • Compound and complex sentences
  • Simple and compound sentences

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