In this unit, we will discuss Simple Compound and Complex Sentences in English Grammar.

Based on the sentence structure, we classify sentences into 3 broad categories :

  1. Simple Sentences
  2. Compound Sentences
  3. Complex Sentences

Simple Sentences

A Simple Sentence is one which has only one Subject and one Predicate or A Simple Sentence is one which has only one Finite Verb.


  1. An honest man is loved by all.
    Subject: an honest man
    Predicate: is loved by all
  2. All of us returned home.
    Subject: all of us
    Predicate: returned home

Compound Sentences

A Compound Sentence is one which consists of two or more Coordinate Clauses, joined by a Coordinating Conjunction.


  1. She is going to the store, or she is going to the mall.
    Clause 1: She is going to the store.
    Clause 2: She is going to the mall.
    Conjunction: or
  2. The sun rose and everything looked bright and gleaming.
    Clause 1: The sun rose.
    Clause 2: Everything looked bright.
    Conjunction: and

Coordinating Clause

A Coordinating Clause is one of two or more clauses, which is either independent or equal. Based on the Coordinating Conjunction used in a Compound Sentence, it may be of 4 types :

  1. Cumulative Sentences
  2. Alternative Sentences
  3. Adversative Sentences
  4. Illative Sentences

Cumulative Sentences

In this type of Compound Sentence, one clause is simply added to another.

  1. Hassan sang and I danced.
  2. The way was long and the night was cold.
  3. She cannot speak, nor can she write.

Alternative Sentences

In this type of Compound Sentence, an alternative or choice is offered between one statement and another.

  1. She must work or she will die.
  2. Either he is a fool or he is mad.
  3. Walk quickly or you will miss the bus.

Adversative Sentences

In this type of Compound Sentence, one statement or fact is contrasted with or set against another.

  1. He is slow, but he is steady.
  2. He is poor, yet he is happy.
  3. Wise men love truth, while fools shun it.

Illative Sentences

In this type of Compound Sentence, one clause states the cause, while the other implies the effect of that cause.

  1. He did not study hard, therefore he failed.
  2. I am ill, so I cannot attend the meeting today.
  3. He will die someday, for all men are mortal.

Based on the number of Coordinating Clauses, a Compound Sentence may be a :

  1. Double Sentence (2 coordinating clauses)
  2. Multiple Sentence (more than 2 coordinating clauses)

Complex Sentences

A Complex Sentence is one which consists of one Main Clause (independent clause) and one or more Subordinate Clauses (dependent clause).


  1. I burned dinner but not the cake.
    Main Clause: I burned dinner.
    Subordinate Clause: But not the cake.
  2. Though he was very rich, he was still unhappy.
    Main Clause: He was still unhappy.
    Subordinate Clause: Though he was very rich.

Main Clause

A Main or Principal Clause is an independent clause which can stand on its own.

Subordinate Clause

A Subordinate Clause is dependent on the Main Clause for its full meaning.

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