Complex Sentence In English

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A complex sentence is a sentence that consists of several parts. But these parts are not equal. One of these parts is subordinate to another part.

What Role Do The Parts Of The Complex Sentence Play?

In a complex sentence, one of the sentences serves to explain the other sentence.

These parts of a complex sentence are called:

  1. Main clause.
  2. Subordinate clause.

The main clause communicates the main meaning of the complex sentence.

The subordinate clause depends on the main clause. The subordinate clause plays a secondary role in explaining the main clause.

Take a look at an example of such a sentence:

I met John, the guy you went to school with when you were kids.

In this example:

Main clause: I met John.

Subordinate clause: the guy you went to school with when you were kids.

Example main clause and subordinate clause in a sentence.
Main clause and subordinate clause.

This example shows well the essence of a complex sentence in English.

In the main sentence, we provide information about the main event:

I met John

As you can see, this part of the complex sentence is really the main one. It is independent and can exist on its own. We can even not add anything else and leave it just as finished news by putting a period in the end:

I met John.

But we decided to give additional information and explain who John was. So we did it in the subordinate clause:

the guy you went to school with when you were kids.

This example clearly shows that this part of the complex sentence is SECONDARY. This part is subordinate to the first part. This part SERVES the first part just to give ADDITIONAL information about who John is.

This part is really secondary. Because it cannot exist without the first MAIN part.

Look at what will happen if we put the second part separately:

The guy you went to school with when you were kids.

I think you can see perfectly well that such a sentence cannot exist separately without the first part. Because without the first part (without the main sentence), this sentence simply loses its meaning.

Part Main clause Subordinate clause
Dependency Does not depend on the Subordinate clause Depends on the main clause.
Role Convey the news Complements the already known news by providing some details.
Feature Can exist separately Cannot exist separately because it loses its meaning without the main part.

I met John

the guy you went to school with when you were kids.

How To Combine Parts Of A Complex Sentence?

We connect the main and secondary parts with such conjunctions as:

  • that
  • if
  • after
  • because
  • who
  • whose
  • when
  • where

Take a look at the examples:

I was waiting for her at the place where we agreed to meet.

We were best friends who were never apart.

We don’t have to use conjunctions. We can combine the main and subordinate clauses without conjunctions if the information is understandable without conjunctions.

I bought a car I dreamed of buying my whole life.

We ate a pie mum baked for dinner.

Explanation how to connect the main and secondary parts in a sentence.
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