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Practice and understanding the structure of simple, compound and complex sentences.

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Simple, Compound, Complex
and Compound-Complex
Sentences in Your Writing
Once a writer knows the
difference between the three
sentence types (simple,
compound, and complex), it is
possible to write with sentence
variety. Sentence variety helps
make your writing more
Simple Sentence
A simple sentence contains a subject and
It expresses a single complete thought.
A simple sentence is a single independent
Sample Simple Sentences
The cat crept through the dark house.
The wary mouse watched from underneath
an upturned cereal box.
The predatory cat stopped and surveyed his
The mouse darted for the safety of the
nearly invisible hole under the cabinet.
Compound Sentences
A compound sentence contains two
independent clauses.
Conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, and yet,
so) join these independent clauses. (Hint:
The conjunctions spell FANBOYS.)
The conjunction used can impact the
meaning of the sentence.
Sample Compound Sentences
The cat was unsuccessful in his attempt to
catch the mouse, and the mouse was
equally as unlucky in his attempt to get the
The dog had watched all of this, but he had
refused to become involved.
The mouse could wait until dark, or he
could risk a daylight raid on the pantry.
The cat usually slept during the day, yet
curiosity held him at the corner of the
Complex Sentences
A complex sentence is an independent
clause joined by one or more dependent
A subordinating conjunction begins the
dependent clauses.
A dependent clause that begins a sentence
must be followed by comma.
A dependent clause has a subject and a verb,
but it does not make sense on its own.
Subordinating Conjunctions
After how Until
Although if Unless
As in as much as if
in order that When as long as
At least Whenever as much as
now that whereas soon
wherever as though Since
While because so that
Before even if That
even though though
Sample Complex Sentences
After he gave it some thought, the mouse
decided to wait until later for his trek.
The cat fell asleep on the warm kitchen
because he was deprived of sleep the night
When the mouse heard the soft snoring of
his sleeping nemesis, he scurried to the
pantry and grabbed enough food for a week.
The dedicated, feline sleuth keeps his
nightly vigil even though the foresighted
mouse will not be venturing out this week.
Compound-Complex Sentences
A compound-complex sentence is a
sentence that has at least two independent
clauses and at least one dependent clause.
The same subordinating conjunctions are
used to introduce the dependent clauses.
The same coordinating conjunctions
(FANBOYS) are used for joining the
independent clauses.
Sample Compound-Complex
After the two adversaries had spent years playing
this “cat and mouse” game, they were joined by
their children, and the fun continued.
Even though it seems the two were bent on the
others destruction, the cat and mouse were rather
fond of one another, and neither wanted the others
This game was begun thousands of years ago, and
it will continue far into the future as other cats and
mice revel in hide-and-seek.
Test Yourself Simple, Compound,
Complex, or Compound-Complex?
1. The teacher walked into the classroom, greeted the students, and took
2. Juan played football while Jane went shopping.
3. Juan played football, yet Jim went shopping.
4. Although Mexico has a better team, they lost the tournament, and their
more aggressive style did not pay off.
5. The island was filled with many trails winding through the thick
underbrush, a small lake, and dangerous wild animals.
6. Naoki passed the test because he studied hard, but Stacy did not
understand the material.