Skip over navigation

ARCHIVED SAMPLE - course no longer available

   
 

GRAMMAR & STRUCTURE — Examples
Complex Sentences

 
 

The different ways of creating complex sentences

The students ate lunch at the beach.

This is a simple sentence. It has one independent clause.

because it was a beautiful day

This is not a sentence. It is not a complete thought, so it cannot be a sentence by itself. It must be linked with a complete sentence.

The students ate lunch at the beach because it was a beautiful day.

This is a complex sentence. It has two parts: one complete thought and one incomplete thought.

When the students finished their class, they ate lunch at the beach because it was a beautiful day.

This complex sentence has one complete thought and two incomplete thoughts.

  • Complete thought: they ate lunch at the beach
  • Incomplete thought: when the students finished their class
  • Incomplete thought: because it was a beautiful day

Tom knows that he has a meeting at ten.

The verbs are the same tense because the sentences refer to the same time.
Complete thought: now / present tense: knows
Incomplete thought: now / present tense: has

John thinks he is important because he won a million dollars last year.

The verbs are different tenses because the sentences refer to different times.
Complete thought: now / present tense: thinks
Incomplete thought: last year / past tense: won

When the students finished their class, they ate lunch at the beach.

The students ate lunch at the beach because it was a beautiful day.

These two sentences are joined by conjunctions. In the first sentence the conjunction is "when"; in the second sentence the conjunction is "because."
Note that the conjunction is placed at the beginning of the incomplete thought.

The students are eating lunch at the beach because it is a beautiful day.

The subject and verb of each clause agree:
students = plural  / are eating = plural
it = singular / is = singular

After the students finished their class, they went to the beach.

When the incomplete thought comes before the independent clause, use a comma:
After ______ , ______.

The students went to the beach after they finished their class.

When the incomplete thought comes after the independent clause, do not use a comma:
______ after ______.