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. • A complex sentence may be combined with a compound sentence to form a compound-complex sentence.
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 • 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 • 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 • 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? • 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 • 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 • 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…. • 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