The Brenham Writing Room Created by D. Herring
Complex Sentences The Brenham Writing Room Created by D. Herring
What is a Complex Sentence?
A complex sentence contains both an independent and a dependent clause. A complex sentence may contain more than just two clauses. A complex sentence may be combined with a compound sentence to form a compound-complex sentence.
Independent & Dependent Clauses
A clause is a group of words containing a subject and a verb. An independent clause has a subject and a verb and can stand alone because it expresses a complete thought. I studied for the test. A dependent clause has a subject and a verb but cannot stand alone because it does not express a complete thought. It “depends” on another clause to be complete. Although I was tired.
Complex Sentence A complex sentence combines both an independent and dependent clause. Although I was tired, I studied for the test. I studied for the test, although I was tired.
Many dependent clauses begin with a subordinating conjunction (also known as a dependent word) Subordinate means secondary, so subordinating conjunctions are words that introduce secondary ideas. e.g., because, since, when, while, although, even though, if, as, whereas Subordinating conjunctions create a relationship between clauses, so they must be used properly.
Punctuating with Dependent Clauses & Subordinating Conjunctions
When a dependent clause that begins with a subordinating conjunction falls at the beginning of the sentence, put a comma after the clause. (It acts as an introductory clause.) When it falls at the end, no comma is needed. Because I didn’t study, I didn’t pass the exam. I didn’t pass the exam because I didn’t study.
What is a Relative Pronoun?
A relative pronoun describes a noun or pronoun. Relative pronouns: who, whom, whomever, whose, which, that Relative pronouns can be used to begin a relative clause, which is also “dependent” and can be used in a complex sentence. My uncle, who plays for the Houston Astros, is coming to visit this week.
Who vs. Which vs. That Use who (whom, whomever, whose) to add information about a person or animal. My cat, who is 15-years old, likes to lay on the porch all day. Use that to add essential information about a thing or animal. The animal that I like best is the platypus. Use which to add non-essential information about a thing or animal. A platypus, which is my favorite animal, was recently added to one of the exhibits at the zoo.
Punctuation with Relative Clauses
Use commas to set off non-essential clauses. Clauses beginning with which should be non-essential. My computer, which is a laptop, crashed. Some clauses beginning with who are non-essential. My teacher, whom I like a lot, just won an award for Best Teacher. Do not use commas with essential clauses. Clauses beginning with that should be essential. The classes that I’m taking this semester are Reading and English. Some clauses beginning with who are essential. The tutor who is assigned to our class is very helpful.
In Review…. It is critical to know the difference between these three different types of words: Coordinating Conjunctions (aka FANBOYS) for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so Conjunctive Adverbs (aka Transitional Words) however, therefore, consequently, also, then see Little, Brown Handbook, pg. 261 for list Subordinating Conjunctions (aka Dependent Words) because, although, since, while, when, unless, if see LBH, pg. 253 for list
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