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Compound-Complex Sentences : Definition, Structure with Examples

Learning English with The AN and freSy

A compound-complex sentence is a form of sentence that is used in English grammar and consists of at least three parts, including two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. This equates to a total of three distinct subjects and verbs being used in the sentence. A compound complicated sentence is a type of sentence that is formed by combining a compound sentence and a complex sentence.

What is a Compound-Complex Sentence?

Before we can have a crystal clear picture of a compound-complex sentence in our heads, we need to first comprehend what both a compound sentence and a complicated sentence include. A conjunction serves as the connecting element between the two simple sentences that make up a complex sentence. A simple sentence is the building block of a complex sentence, which consists of a simple sentence and an accompanying subordinate or dependent clause. A dependent clause, which is additionally referred to as the subordinate clause, is made up of a subject as well as a verb, but it is unable to convey an entire notion on its own; rather, it must rely on the expression of that thought by other clauses.

Examples of Compound-complex Sentences

  • Harry plays football while it’s nice outside.
  • Anthony packs his lunch before he goes to school.
  • If Shelby wants to, she will go to the beach.
  • When it got cold, Ricky put on a sweatshirt.
  • When the dog barks, even the most experienced thief will run away.
  • John bit his lip because he was nervous.
  • After watching the horror movie, Jasmine had nightmares.

Difference between Complex and Compound Sentences

A sentence is considered to be complicated when it has at least one independent clause and multiple dependent clauses that are connected to the independent clause. A clause that does not independently express an entire notion is known as a dependent clause.

Whereas on the other hand, a compound-complex sentence is made up of at least two independent clauses including one or more dependent clauses.

Aspects Compound Sentences Complex Sentences
Structure Consist of two or more independent clauses joined by coordinating conjunctions Comprise of one independent clause and at least one dependent clause
Relationships Express a relationship between equal or similar ideas Show the relationship between main ideas and supporting ideas
Coordinating Conjunctions Commonly used coordinating conjunctions include “and,” “but,” and “or” Not connected by coordinating conjunctions
Examples “I went to the park, and my sister stayed home”. “Although it was raining, I went for a walk.”
Purpose Emphasizes equal importance or parallel ideas Introduce subordination and provide additional context
Complexity Generally simpler in structure Tend to be more complex due to the inclusion of dependent clauses.

Structure of Compound-Complex Sentences

You must become familiar with the many components that comprise a complicated sentence, such as a main clause, connective, as well as subordinate clause before you can comprehend how to compose a complex sentence. The structure of a compound-complex sentence can be difficult to grasp at first, but it will become clearer if you have a firm grasp of the forms of compound and complicated sentences.

Dependent Clause

In order to convey an entire thought in a compound-complex sentence, it is necessary to make use of a number of different clauses. Dependent clauses, which are similar to independent clauses in that they both consist of a noun phrase and a verb phrase, are, however, only relevant when connected to other clauses. This is due to the fact that dependent clauses begin with connecting words such as if, while, and because, amongst others.

Independent Clause

Because it stands on its own as a full clause, it does not require the assistance of any other clauses in order to convey the intended meaning. A noun phrase and a verb phrase make up its structure, respectively. In this instance, the noun phrase serves as the subject, while the verb phrase acts as the predicate to modify the subject. Independent clauses are known as coordinate clauses when they are used in this kind of sentence structure.

How to Identify a Compound-complex Sentence

Compound and complex sentences are always broken up into two independent clauses and a number of dependent clauses. Complex sentences can also have subordinating conjunctions. Because each of these phrases will have a subject and a verb phrase, they are able to function independently, hence the term “independent.”

Examples of Compound-complex Sentences in English

The dog was sitting on the bed and he was happily playing with his toy, but then he fell.

The bike was stuck in heavy traffic, much to my dismay, and the rain just kept getting heavier.

If global warming keeps increasing, the entire world will suffer.

While I was preparing lunch he was still busy playing the games.

Practice Questions on Compound-complex Sentence

Combine the following simple statements into compound or complicated sentences by combining them together using the appropriate linking words.

Question 1
  • John was sitting.
  • when the dog started barking.
  • He was reading a book.
Question 2
  • Rita is happy.
  • Rita doesn’t want to show her happiness.
  • Rita was not looking happy.
Question 3
  • Pedro was sick.
  • Even if the conference is important.
  • Pedro couldn’t attend the conference.
Question 4
  • Justin was hungry.
  • Justin had no money.
  • Justin ordered fries with a large pizza.
Question 5
  • Jay was nervous.
  • He was going through a financial crisis.
  • He badly needed the job.
  1. John was sitting and reading a book when the dog started barking.
  2. Rita was happy but not looking happy because she didn’t want to show it.
  3. Pedro was sick so he couldn’t attend the conference, even if it was important.
  4. Justin was hungry; therefore he ordered a pizza with fries, although he had no money.
  5. Jay was nervous because he badly needed the job because he was going through a financial crisis.


Understanding which portions of the phrase are independent clauses and which are dependent clauses is vital if you want to correctly punctuate it and avoid producing a sentence that runs on without stopping (also known as a “run-on sentence“). Once you have this mastered, you will be able to freely use them in your writing so that you may convey more complex thoughts in a clear manner.

Compound-complex Sentence – FAQ’s

At least two independent clauses as well as a minimum of three dependent clauses make up a compound-complex sentence. A compound-complex sentence can also be called a compound-complicated sentence.

  • Brandy loves her sister, and she loves her too because she pays her all the bills.
  • Although I love Marvel movies, I can not go to watch the movie because I don’t have any money.
  • Though everyone says it doesn’t matter, he is athletic, and I am fat
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