Simple vs Complex Sentence
Difference between simple and complex sentence is one of the basics that one should learn to be a good writer or speaker in English language. Written or spoken English is made up of words strung together to make meaningful sentences. As such, a sentence can be said to be a basic unit of communication that makes sense. A sentence can be simple, compound, or complex. These types of sentences exist for different purposes. Usually, when speaking, we use simple sentences because we are communicating with someone else. Then, in such a context, we need to say what we want to say in the clearest possible manner. Simple sentences are capable of conveying clear messages. Complex sentences are normally long. We can use complex sentences too when talking with someone, as long as they do not confuse the listener. Mostly complex sentences are used in writing because a reader can re-read the sentence if he could not understand the meaning when he first read.
What is a Simple Sentence?
Beth ate a cake.
This is a simple sentence. It conveys one main idea. Here, the sentence says the person named Beth ate a cake. In the sentence, we see a subject (Beth), verb (ate) and even an object (cake).
What is a Complex Sentence?
When a sentence is made of an independent clause and one or many dependent clauses, we call it a complex sentence. We can also say a complex sentence is a combination of simple sentences. Conjunctions are used to join two simple sentences to make a complex sentence. The conjunction ‘and’ is the simplest of conjunctions to make complex sentences. However, there are many more conjunctions that can be used for making complex sentences such as but, although, as, so, because, when, then and that. Look at the following example.
My mother made noodles and we ate it.
This sentence is a complex sentence. It is a combination of the two simple sentences ‘my mother made noodles’ and ‘we ate it.’ The two sentences are joined by the conjunction ‘and.’
Look at these examples too.
Simple sentences have only one verb.
They convey one main idea.
Complex sentences have two or more verbs.
They contain two or more clauses.
They convey more than one idea.
All these sentences are simple sentences. A complex sentence can be formed by joining the first two simple sentences.
Simple sentences have only one verb and convey one main idea.
Similarly, the last three examples of simple sentences can be joined to make a complex sentence.
Complex sentences have two or more verbs, contain two or more clauses, and convey more than one idea.
In a complex sentence, there is always an independent clause that could stand on its own, and a dependent clause that is linked to the independent clause to make a complex sentence.
Roy was present at the station when the train arrived.
Here Roy was present at the station is an independent clause, and ‘the train arrived’ is a dependent clause that is joined using conjunction ‘when’ to make a complex sentence. In a complex sentence, the dependent clause can come before or after the independent clause without changing the meaning.
He finished his project, after years of research.
After years of research, he finished his project.
Here, the dependent clause, ‘after years of research’, comes before and after the independent clause, ‘he finished his project.’ You can see the placing has not changed the meaning.
What is the difference between Simple and Complex Sentence?
• A simple sentence has one subject and a verb and expresses a single idea. A simple sentence can stand on its own.
• A complex sentence is formed joining an independent clause (that can stand on its own) with a dependent clause using a conjunction.
• Complex sentences have two or more verbs, two or more clauses and express more than one idea.