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Complex Sentences. The Brenham Writing Room Created by D. Herring. What is a Complex Sentence? . A complex sentence contains both an independent and a dependent clause. A complex sentence may contain more than just two clauses.

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complex sentences

Complex Sentences

The Brenham Writing Room

Created by D. Herring

what is a complex sentence
What is a Complex Sentence?
  • A complex sentence contains both an independent and a dependent clause.
  • A complex sentence may contain more than just two clauses.
  • A complex sentence may be combined with a compound sentence to form a compound-complex sentence.
independent dependent clauses
Independent & Dependent Clauses
  • A clause is a group of words containing a subject and a verb.
    • An independent clause has a subject and a verb and can stand alone because it expresses a complete thought.
      • I studied for the test.
    • A dependent clause has a subject and a verb but cannot stand alone because it does not express a complete thought. It “depends” on another clause to be complete.
      • Although I was tired.
complex sentence
Complex Sentence
  • A complex sentence combines both an independent and dependent clause.
    • Although I was tired, I studied for the test.
    • I studied for the test, although I was tired.
subordinating conjunctions
Subordinating Conjunctions
  • Many dependent clauses begin with a subordinating conjunction (also known as a dependent word)
    • Subordinate means secondary, so subordinating conjunctions are words that introduce secondary ideas.
      • e.g., because, since, when, while, although, even though, if, as, whereas
    • Subordinating conjunctions create a relationship between clauses, so they must be used properly.
punctuating with dependent clauses subordinating conjunctions
Punctuating with Dependent Clauses & Subordinating Conjunctions
  • When a dependent clause that begins with a subordinating conjunction falls at the beginning of the sentence, put a comma after the clause. (It acts as an introductory clause.)
  • When it falls at the end, no comma is needed.
    • Because I didn’t study, I didn’t pass the exam.
    • I didn’t pass the exam because I didn’t study.
what is a relative pronoun
What is a Relative Pronoun?
  • A relative pronoun describes a noun or pronoun.
    • Relative pronouns:
      • who, whom, whomever, whose, which, that
  • Relative pronouns can be used to begin a relative clause, which is also “dependent” and can be used in a complex sentence.
    • My uncle, who plays for the Houston Astros, is coming to visit this week.
who vs which vs that
Who vs. Which vs. That
  • Use who (whom, whomever, whose) to add information about a person or animal.
    • My cat, who is 15-years old, likes to lay on the porch all day.
  • Use that to add essential information about a thing or animal.
    • The animal that I like best is the platypus.
  • Use which to add non-essential information about a thing or animal.
    • A platypus, which is my favorite animal, was recently added to one of the exhibits at the zoo.
punctuation with relative clauses
Punctuation with Relative Clauses
  • Use commas to set off non-essential clauses.
    • Clauses beginning with which should be non-essential.
      • My computer, which is a laptop, crashed.
    • Some clauses beginning with who are non-essential.
      • My teacher, whom I like a lot, just won an award for Best Teacher.
  • Do not use commas with essential clauses.
    • Clauses beginning with that should be essential.
      • The classes that I’m taking this semester are Reading and English.
    • Some clauses beginning with who are essential.
      • The tutor who is assigned to our class is very helpful.
in review
In Review….
  • It is critical to know the difference between these three different types of words:
    • Coordinating Conjunctions (aka FANBOYS)
      • for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
    • Conjunctive Adverbs (aka Transitional Words)
      • however, therefore, consequently, also, then
      • see Little, Brown Handbook, pg. 261 for list
    • Subordinating Conjunctions (aka Dependent Words)
      • because, although, since, while, when, unless, if
      • see LBH, pg. 253 for list
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