Difference Between Compound Sentences and Complex Sentences (With Table)

In our daily life, sentences play an important role because through this we can share our thoughts with someone else. The term “sentence” means words that are grouped and contains a verb and subject. It expresses a question, a statement, etc. Sentences are useful to make any conversation meaningful which makes sense and can be understood in the second person.  

Sentences can be categorised into simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences. They all differ in many terms and can change the whole conversation. Some of them are easy whereas others are a little bit tricky. Compound sentences and complex sentences are two of the sentences which are a little bit confusing. 

Compound Sentences vs Complex Sentences 

The main difference between compound sentences and complex sentences is that in compound sentences there is no dependent clause but it consists of multiple independent clauses. On the other hand, complex sentences contain more than one or only one dependent clause and an independent clause. Compound sentences use coordinating conjunctions such as for, yet, or, so, etc. Whereas subordinating conjunctions are used in complex sentences.  

The sentence which is made up of independent clauses which are two or more in number is known as a compound sentence. Coordinating conjunction plays an important role in connecting clauses. Usage of conjunctions like for, yet, or, so, and, nor, and but are more in number. “I shouted at my parents last night, and I feel terrible now” is an example of a compound sentence. 

An independent clause with one or more than one independent clause makes up the complex sentence. Subordinating conjunction such as because, although, how, once, though, etc. are used while forming complex sentences. Subordinating conjunctions play an important role in connecting clauses. “If you do not come to my party today, I will never talk to you again” is an example of a complex sentence. 

Comparison Table Between Compound Sentences and Complex Sentences 

Parameters of ComparisonCompound SentencesComplex Sentences
InterpretationSentence with more than one predicate or subject.The sentence contains clauses or a subordinate.
FormationIndependent clause1 + coordinating conjunction + independent clause2Independent clause + dependent clause
Dependent clausesDo not have any.Have one or more.
Independent clausesTwo or more.Only one.
ExampleGrace opened the door and she looked outside.When he won the award, everyone cheered.

What are Compound Sentences? 

Compound sentences are sentences that contain independent clauses in two or more than that number. An Independent clause is nothing but a sentence which do not depend on anything and hence, gives a complete meaning. An example of independent clauses is “we sleep” in which “we” is subject and “sleep” is a verb.  

Comma helps to link compound sentences. Coordinating conjunctions also link these kinds of sentences by connecting phrases, words, and independent clauses. Coordinating conjunctions are easier to remember by taking the help of “fanboys” or for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. 

To make a compound sentence, the semicolon is also used instead of coordinating conjunction or comma. They tell about two complete thoughts which are related to any idea. Countdown compound sentence can be formed in this format: independent clause1 + Coordinating conjunction + independent clause2.  

To make it clearer, it is time to go through some examples. Below there are two examples:   

  1. I shouted at my parents last night, and I feel terrible now. In this, “I shouted at my parents last night” as well as “I feel terrible now” are two of the independent clauses which are combined with the help of coordinating conjunction (and).  
  2. Ronnie does not want to do engineering, but his parents are forcing him. In this, “Ronnie does not want to do engineering” as well as “Ronnie’s parents are forcing him to do engineering” are two of the independent clauses which are combined with the help of coordinating conjunction (but). 

What are Complex Sentences? 

Complex sentences are sentences that contain dependent clauses in more than one or only one number with one independent clause. A dependent clause is a sentence that depends upon an independent clause and it cannot stand on its own. Subordinating conjunctions are used at beginning of the dependent clause. An example of a dependent clause is “unless Ron apologizes to me”.  

Complex sentences are completed with the help of subordinating conjunctions. Subordinating conjunctions are mainly words that connect an independent to a dependent clause. Some of the subordinating conjunctions are because, although, how, once, though, until, where, while, and many more.  

Complex sentences are known as “complex” because they are much different from simple sentences. While a little bit similar to compound sentences. When it comes to its types, the most common type is a conditional sentence. “Independent Close + dependent clause” is the format of writing a complex sentence.  

Below there are two examples given to make complex sentences clearer:  

  1. When I was in school, I used to give flowers to a teacher that I liked a lot. In this “when I was in school” and “that I like a lot” are dependent clauses. “I used to give flowers to a teacher” is an independent clause. “When” and “that” are two subordinating conjunctions used here.  
  2. We are looking for a place where we can set up our office. In this “we are looking for a place” is an independent clause whereas “we can set up our office” is an independent clause. “Where” is subordinating conjunction used here.   

Main Differences Between Compound Sentences and Complex Sentences 

  1. To identify a compound sentence, you should look for conjunctions such as and, nor, yet, or, but, etc. On the flip side, look for subordinating conjunctions such as although, because, since, whenever, before, and many more to identify the complex sentences.  
  2. In terms of conjunction, coordinating conjunction is required to combine two clauses in compound sentences. But in complex sentences, subordinating conjunction is required to combine two clauses.  
  3. Another difference lies in the number of clauses (independent and dependent). In compound sentences, at least two independent clauses are used but a dependent clause is not required. While only one independent clause with at least one dependent clause is used in a complex sentence.  
  4. To begin a compound sentence, coordinating conjunction is not used. On the other hand, at the beginning of the complex sentence subordinating conjunction is most required.  
  5. When it comes to clarity and specification of sentences, compound sentences are not much clearer. As a result, compound sentences are not much effective than complex sentences. 

Conclusion  

So, it can be concluded that compound sentences and complex sentences seem to be the same but they are not. it is a little bit hard to pick up whether the sentence which is given is complex or compound. The word which connects sentences can be called as key to difference because that conjunction makes the whole difference.  

It is beneficial to memorize coordinating conjunctions that are seven in number or can be called “fanboys”. It will make no sense or waste of energy to learn subordinating conjunctions as well. Because it will be easier to identify the difference between compound and complex sentences. Compound sentences consist of multiple independent clauses. On the flip side, complex sentences are made up of an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. 

References 

  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/4177763
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=pjNwpxL9FxQC&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=complex+sentences&ots=Uh0eA-TyiI&sig=GOsK1u4_XS0txztFgPFXDTJnq6E
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