Complex Sentence - Meaning, Definition and Examples

After I finish learning about compound sentences, I would like to start learning how to form complex sentences. Is this what is going on in your mind? This article will help you with all that you need to know. In the English language, complex sentences, if used properly, can make your writing or speech a lot more meaningful. In this article, you will learn the meaning and definition of complex sentences as well as understanding how to form complex sentences and how to use them. Furthermore, there are examples you can refer to and practice questions you can try out to have a deeper understanding of the topic.

Table of Contents

What Is a Complex Sentence?

A complex sentence is one which consists of at least a minimum of one dependent clause and one independent clause, combined by a subordinating conjunction.

Definition of a Complex Sentence

A complex sentence, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as one “containing one main part (main clause of a sentence) and one or more other parts (called affixes or subordinate clauses)”. According to the Collins Dictionary, a complex sentence is defined as “a sentence containing at least one main clause and one subordinate clause.” The Macmillan Dictionary defines a complex sentence as “a sentence consisting of an independent clause and one or more subordinate clauses.”

Points to Be Remembered When Forming Complex Sentences

Let us look at what all you need to focus on when forming a complex sentence.

  • A complex sentence follows a particular structure. It should have at least one independent clause and one subordinate clause.
  • When forming a complex sentence, make sure you use a subordinating conjunction to link them together. If the subordinating conjunction is used in between the two clauses, you need not use a comma before the conjunction. In case the subordinating conjunction appears in the beginning of a sentence forming a dependent clause, use a comma after it.
  • You can also make use of relative pronouns to form relative clauses which are also subordinate clauses. That means, a sentence with a relative clause and an independent clause can also pass off as a complex sentence. When using a relative clause, make sure you enclose them within commas. They are mostly some extra information about the subject or object in the sentence.

Now, take a look at the following examples to see how each of these work.

Examples of Complex Sentences

Here are a few examples to show you the different ways in which complex sentences can be formed.

Complex Sentences with a Subordinating Conjunction in the Beginning

  • After we finish school,/ let us go play in the park.

Subordinating conjunction forming the subordinate clause,/ independent clause

  • As soon as they come,/ we will leave.

Subordinating conjunction forming the subordinate clause,/ independent clause

  • In case you find Raam’s number,/ let me know.

Subordinating conjunction forming the subordinate clause,/ independent clause

Complex Sentences with a Subordinating Conjunction in the Middle

  • Latha did not finish all the work/ because she reached home late.

Independent clause/ subordinating conjunction forming the dependent clause

  • I will be on my way/ as soon as my brother picks me up.

Independent clause/ subordinating conjunction forming the dependent clause

  • We will be going camping/ if the weather is good.

Independent clause/ subordinating conjunction forming the dependent clause

Complex Sentences with a Relative Clause as the Dependent Clause

  • My brother, who completed his mechanical engineering degree, is now working at BOSCH.

Relative clause – who completed his mechanical engineering degree

Independent clause – My brother is now working at BOSCH.

  • The hotel, where we had our farewell dinner, is being shut down.

Relative clause – where we had our farewell dinner

Independent clause – The hotel is being shut down.

  • The professor, whom I met yesterday, highly appreciated my ideas for the project.

Relative clause – whom I met yesterday

Independent clause – The professor highly appreciated my ideas for the project.

Check Your Understanding of Complex Sentences

Identify the subordinating conjunction/relative pronoun, main clause and the subordinate clause/relative clause in the following sentences.

Here is an example to show you how you are expected to do it.

  1. After I finish my work, I will be meeting my friend.
  2. Since you helped out, we completed everything in time.
  3. As soon as the initial introduction is over, we will have the prayer song.
  4. The children were asked to go home because it was too late.
  5. The teacher, who taught us French, was the reason we decided to take French in college as well.
  6. If you want to reach on time, you better start immediately.
  7. Although she did not have much interest in learning English, she somehow made it a point to do it.
  8. In the event of you being elected the Chairperson of the Students Union, what will you do for the benefit of the student community?
  9. The place, where we first met, will always be my favourite spot.
  10. Unless you make up your mind, nothing can be done.

From the answers given below, check if you have identified the mentioned components correctly.

1. After I finish my work, I will be meeting my friend.

Subordinating conjunction – After

Main clause – I will be meeting my friend

Subordinate clause – After I finish my work

2. Since you helped out, we completed everything in time.

Subordinating conjunction – Since

Main clause – We completed everything in time

Subordinate clause – Since you helped out

3. As soon as the initial introduction is over, we will have the prayer song.

Subordinating conjunction – As soon as

Main clause – We will have the prayer song

Subordinate clause – As soon as the initial introduction is over

4. The children were asked to go home because it was too late.

Subordinating conjunction – Because

Main clause – The children were asked to go home

Subordinate clause – Because it was too late

5. The teacher, who taught us French, was the reason we decided to take French in college as well.

Relative pronoun – Who

Main clause – The teacher was the reason we decided to take French in college as well

Subordinate clause/Relative clause – Who taught us French

6. If you want to reach on time, you better start immediately.

Subordinating conjunction – If

Main clause – You better start immediately

Subordinate clause – If you want to reach on time

7. Although she did not have much interest in learning English, she somehow made it a point to do it.

Subordinating conjunction – Although

Main clause – She somehow made it a point to do it

Subordinate clause – Although she did not have much interest in learning English

8. In the event of you being elected the Chairperson of the Students Union, what will you do for the benefit of the student community?

Subordinating conjunction – In the event of

Main clause – What will you do for the benefit of the student community

Subordinate clause – In the event of you being elected the Chairperson of the Students Union

9. The place, where we first met, will always be my favourite spot.

Relative pronoun – Where

Main clause – The place will always be my favourite spot

Subordinate clause/Relative clause – Where we first met

10. Unless you make up your mind, nothing can be done.

Subordinating conjunction – Unless

Main clause – Nothing can be done

Subordinate clause – Unless you make up your mind

Frequently Asked Questions on Complex Sentences in English

What is a complex sentence?

A complex sentence is one which consists of at least a minimum of one dependent clause and one independent clause, combined by a subordinating conjunction.

What is the definition of a complex sentence?

A complex sentence, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as one “containing one main part ( main clause of a sentence) and one or more other parts (called affixes or subordinate clauses)”. According to the Collins Dictionary, a complex sentence is defined as “a sentence containing at least one main clause and one subordinate clause.” The Macmillan Dictionary defines a complex sentence as “a sentence consisting of an independent clause and one or more subordinate clauses.”

What are the points to be remembered when forming complex sentences?

Here is what you should remember when forming complex sentences:
Here is what you should remember when forming complex sentences:

  • A complex sentence should have at least one independent clause and one subordinate clause.
  • When forming a complex sentence, make sure you use a subordinating conjunction to link them together. If the subordinating conjunction is used in between the two clauses, you need not use a comma before the conjunction. In case the subordinating conjunction appears in the beginning of a sentence forming a dependent clause, use a comma after it.
  • You can also use relative clauses to form complex sentences.

Give some examples of complex sentences.

Looking at some examples will help you understand how to form complex sentences. Here are a few examples for you.

  • After we finish school, let us go play in the park.
  • The professor, whom I met yesterday, highly appreciated my ideas for the project.
  • I will be on my way as soon as my brother picks me up.
  • My brother, who completed his mechanical engineering degree, is now working at BOSCH.
  • We will be going camping if the weather is good.

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