English

Difference Between Compound Sentences and Complex Sentences

ADVERTISEMENT
CONTINUE READING BELOW

Main Difference

The main difference between Compound Sentences and Complex Sentences is that Compound Sentences are the sentences that contain many independent clauses, whereas Complex Sentences are the sentences that contain the minimum one dependent clause and one independent clause.

Compound Sentences vs. Complex Sentences

Compound sentences consist of two dependent clauses; on the other hand, complex sentences consist of an independent clause joined with one or more dependent clauses.

In a compound sentence, usually comma and coordinating conjunction is used to join two or more simple sentences. To combine an independent clause with a dependent clause in complex sentences, subordinating conjunctions are used.

ADVERTISEMENT
CONTINUE READING BELOW

In a compound sentence, two or more independent clauses are present which give complete meaning or notion, while in a compound sentence, at least one dependent clause is present, which offers incomplete thought or idea.

The independent clauses in the compound sentence are combined with coordinating conjunction, which are seven, including, for, nor, or, and, but, yet, and so. In complex sentences, on the other hand, dependent and independent clauses are joined by subordinating conjunction, including, when, because, while, until, although, if, after, whenever, whereas, before, as, since.

A compound sentence is made by putting the first independent clause, then coordinating conjunction, and the second independent clause at last. A complex sentence is made by putting either dependent or independent clause first and then joining both clauses by subordinating conjunction.

ADVERTISEMENT
CONTINUE READING BELOW

A comma is used with coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence, whereas no comma is used with subordinating conjunction in a complex sentence. In a compound sentence, no subordinate clause(dependent clause) is present, while in a complex sentence, at least one subordinate clause is present, which does not make sense alone.

Comparison Chart

Compound SentencesComplex Sentences
The sentences made by joining two or more independent clauses are called compound sentences.The sentences made by fitting together at least one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses are called complex sentences.
Conjunctions
Coordinating conjunctions(for, and, nor, but, yet, or, so) are usedSubordinating conjunctions(until, whenever, because, although, while, if, after, as, before) are used
Use of Comma
A comma is used with coordinating conjunctionNo comma is used with subordinating conjunction
Sentence Sequence
Independent clauses with coordinating conjunction between themIndependent/dependent clause+subordinating conjunction+independent/dependent clause
Number of Independent Clauses
At least two independent clausesOnly one independent clause
Number of Dependent Clauses
No dependent clauseAt least one dependent clause
Conjunction Usage
Coordinating conjunction cannot be used at the startSubordinating conjunction can be used at the start
Example
I was learning horse riding, but my sister was learning bicyclingThe dog barked because it was very dark and lonely

What are Compound Sentences?

A sentence having several main clauses, but no subordinate clause is called a compound sentence. A minimum of two independent clauses are present in a compound sentence.

The independent clauses in a compound sentence deliver a complete significance, indication, or notion of the sentence. The two independent clauses in a compound sentence are combined with the usage of coordinating conjunction between them.

Any of the two independent clauses can be placed first in the structure of a compound sentence. Generally, we do not use coordinating conjunction at the commencement of the sentence. The coordinating conjunction is most commonly used between the independent or main clauses.

The only function of coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence is to link the clauses and express a very simplified relation between them. Both the independent clauses can stand on their own in a compound sentence. If there are more than two independent clauses, a semi-colon is used.

Examples

“Angelina drank her hot coffee,” is an independent clause. “Then she took a bath and dressed,” is another independent clause. Combining both these clauses by coordinating conjunction “and” will give a compound sentence. i.e., “Angelina drank her hot coffee, and then she took a bath and dressed.”

Another example is, “Smith spoke to him in Spanish, but Joseph replied in French.” In this example, “Smith spoke to him in Spanish,” is an independent clause combined with another independent clause, “Joseph replied in French,” with the help of coordinating conjunction “but.”

What are Complex Sentences?

One independent clause and one or more than one dependent clauses combine together and form a complex sentence. The clauses are related to each other through subordinating conjunctions. The main subordinating conjunctions include when, until, although, whenever, whereas, as, before, after, since, etc.

The construction of the complex sentence can be made by putting whichever dependent or independent clause first. When a dependent clause follows an independent clause, no comma is used, but when an independent clause follows a dependent clause, a comma is used.

Examples

“He realized that he was too harsh with his sister,” is an independent clause. “While he was waiting at the train station,” is a dependent clause. A combination of both these clauses will give a complex sentence, “He realized that he was too harsh with his sister while he was waiting at the train station.” An independent clause is positioned first, so no comma is necessary to be used between independent and dependent clauses. “While” acts subordinating conjunction here.

Another example is, “When I told him that I was leaving his house, he was stunned.” In this example, a dependent clause is placed first, “When I told him that I was leaving his house.” On the other hand, the independent clause is, “He was stunned.” A dependent clause is placed first, so a comma is used between dependent and independent clauses. “When” is subordinating conjunction in this example.

Key Differences

  1. The compound sentences structures are built by at least two independent clauses. Conversely, at least one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses can build the structure of complex sentences.
  2. There is no dependent clause in compound sentences, but there exists a minimum one dependent clause in complex sentences.
  3. There are at minimum two independent clauses in a compound sentence, while there is only one independent clause in a complex sentence.
  4. The maximum number of independent or main clauses can be considered two or more in a compound sentence. In contrast, the maximum number of main or independent clauses in a complex sentence is only one.
  5. The maximum number of subordinate or dependent clauses in a compound sentence is zero; on the other hand, the maximum number of subordinate or dependent clauses in a complex sentence is two or more.
  6. In a compound sentence, coordinating conjunctions are used to associate independent clauses, whereas, in a complex sentence, dependent and independent clauses are joined by a subordinating conjunction.

Conclusion

The sentence having at least two independent clauses linked by coordinating conjunctions between them is called compound sentences. In contrast, the complex sentences use subordinating conjunction to join at least one dependent and one independent clause, where having one independent clause is compulsory.

ADVERTISEMENT
Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson