Difference Between Compound and Complex Sentences

Compound vs Complex Sentences

There are many different types of sentences. Knowing all these types and their differences allows one to write in an effective and interesting manner. If one continues to make use of only simple sentences, the writing becomes quite boring and too simplistic for the readers as if written especially for the kids. There are obviously simple, compound, complex, and compound complex sentences. Students often confuse between compound and complex sentences. This article attempts to highlight the basic differences between these two types of sentences with examples to enable students to make no mistakes while identifying them.

Compound Sentences

Before understanding compound sentences, it is pertinent to know a bit about simple sentences. A simple sentence is also referred to as an independent clause as it is capable of expressing a thought. There is both a subject as well as a verb in a simple sentence. The next level of a sentence is a compound sentence that is made by using two independent clauses joined together through a coordinator. Joining of clauses also requires placing a comma before the coordinator that could be but, for, and, yet, nor etc. Look at the following example.

I was learning Mexican

My friend was learning Spanish

Both the sentences are simple sentences. However, when they are joined together using a coordinator, the sentence becomes a compound sentence. The resulting compound sentence could be ‘I was learning Mexican, but my friend was learning Spanish’.

Complex Sentences

A sentence is called complex when there is an independent clause and single or more dependent clauses. The important feature of a complex sentence is the relationships or ideas that are conveyed using linking devices. Look at the following sentence.

The puppy barked because it was lonely.

The sentence contains a main independent clause ‘The Puppy barked’ and a dependent clause ‘it was lonely’. The use of because as a linking device tells us the reason behind his barking. The dependent clause is also called adjective clause in a complex sentence. Take a look at the following complex sentence.

John was excited to get his new shoes that he purchased from the internet.

What is the difference between Compound and Complex Sentences?

• There are two independent clauses in a compound sentence that are joined using a coordinator. The coordinator is a conjunction that can impact the meaning of the sentence.

• There are two or more clauses in a complex sentence with one essentially an independent clause while there can be one or more dependent clauses.

• Complex sentences are for reflecting relationships or conveying ideas.

• The dependent clause in a complex sentence contains both the subject as well as a verb but it still does not make complete sense.

• The main difference between a compound and complex sentence lies in the number of independent and dependent clauses. While there are at least two independent clauses in a compound sentence, there is only one independent clause in a complex sentence.

• While there is no dependent clause in a compound sentence, there is at least one dependent clause in a complex sentence.