15 Compound vs Complex Sentence: Comparative Analysis


In this article, we are going to see the differences between compound and complex sentences. There are quite a few differences between compound and complex sentences.  With examples, we will get to know the comparative analysis of compound vs complex sentence.

TopicCompound SentenceComplex Sentence
1. DefinitionA compound sentence is a sentence that has at least a minimum of two independent clauses. The independent clauses are also known as main clauses, as they are the primary clauses of the sentence.A complex sentence is a sentence that has at least a minimum of one independent clause or main clause and at least a minimum of one or more dependent clauses. The dependent clauses are also known as subordinate clauses as they are the secondary clauses of the sentence.
ExamplesExample: Riya was late, and so she missed the bus.

 The above sentence is a compound sentence that has two independent clauses (main clauses) – ‘Riya was late’ and ‘she missed the bus’.
Example: Priyansh did not go to school today because he had a severe stomach ache.
 
The above sentence is a complex sentence as the independent clause (main clause) is ‘Priyansh did not go to school’ and the dependent clause (subordinate clause) is ‘he had a severe stomach ache’.
2. MeaningAn independent clause or a main clause is nothing but a group of words which has its own subject and a predicate and makes complete sense. It conveys complete meaning and can stand on its own.A dependent clause or a subordinating clause is also nothing but a group of words which has its own subject and predicate. But however, it does not give complete meaning on its own. It gets its complete meaning only when joined  with the independent clause.
 
ExamplesExample: Shalini and I went to the park and played games.

In this sentence, there are two independent clauses – ‘Shalini and I went to the park’ and ‘played games’. Both the clauses have complete meaning and can stand on their own.
Example: Although my cousin loved horror movies, he was scared of watching them.

In this sentence, the dependent clause is ‘my cousin loved horror movies’. Though, it has the subject ‘my cousin’ and predicate ‘loved horror movies’, it does not gives complete meaning as it supports the independent clause.
3. Independent ClauseA compound sentence comprises of more than one independent clause.
 
A complex sentence comprises of only one independent clause.
ExamplesExample: Sheetal does not eat ice cream, for she catches cold very soon.
 
This compound sentence has two independent clauses. They are ‘Sheetal does not eat ice cream’ and ‘she catches cold very soon’.
Example: If tomorrow is a holiday, Mehak will come home.

This complex sentence has only one independent clause which is ‘Mehak will come home’.
4. Dependent ClauseA compound sentence does not have any dependent clause in it.
 
A complex sentence must have at least a minimum of one dependent clause in it.
ExamplesExample: We will have to start on time, or we will not reach on time.

In the above compound sentence, you cannot find any dependent clauses as it is made up of just two independent clauses.
Example: After we finished our work, we went for a movie, because we had lots of free time.

This complex sentence has two dependent clauses in it. The two dependent clauses are ‘we finished our work’ and ‘we had lots of free time’.
5. ConjunctionThe independent clauses in a compound sentence are combined or joined by coordinating conjunctions.The dependent clauses in a complex sentence are combined to the independent clause by subordinating conjunctions.
ExamplesExample: Soumya did not finish the project nor did she attend the class.
 
‘Nor’ is the coordinating conjunction in this compound sentence that is combining the two independent clauses – ‘Soumya did not finish the project’ and ‘did she attend the class.’
Example: Whenever my grandparents come home, we take them to almost all the temples in the city.
 
‘Whenever’ is the subordinating conjunction in this complex sentence, that is joining the dependent clause ‘my grandparents come home’ and the independent clause ‘we take them to almost all the temples in the city’.
6. Position of the conjunctionThe coordinating conjunctions are mostly not used in the beginning of the compound sentences.
However, there are few exceptions.
The subordinating conjunctions can be used in the beginning and in the middle of the complex sentence to join the dependent clauses and the independent clause.
ExamplesExample: Ruhi was ill yesterday, yet, she attended the meeting.
 
Yet’ is the coordinating conjunction here. It is in between the two independent clauses that it is joining.
Example: The meeting will be started when the manager joins us.
 
‘When’ is the subordinating conjunction and it is used in between the independent clause ‘The meeting will be started’ and the dependent clause ‘the manager joins us’.
ExamplesExample: For she is a disciplined girl, she was selected as the class leader.
 
This is an exception here as ‘for’ is the coordinating conjunction combining the two independent clauses and it is used in the beginning of the compound sentence.
Example: Though she wanted to come to the picnic, she did not, because she had her exams.
 
‘Though’ is the subordinating conjunction in the beginning of the complex sentence joining the independent clause ‘she did not’ and the dependent clause ‘she wanted to come to the picnic’. ‘Because’ is the subordinating conjunction which is in between the independent clause ‘she did not’ and the dependent clause ‘she had her exams’.
7. List of ConjunctionsMost important and frequently used coordinating conjunctions are and, for, but, nor, yet, so and or.Most commonly used subordinating conjunctions are because, since, after, that, which, who, though, whenever, wherever, although, even though, while, before, provided, unless, till, whereas, if, where etc…
Examplea. I prefer chocolate ice cream, but my sister prefers vanilla ice cream.
 
Independent Clause: I prefer chocolate ice cream
Independent Clause: My sister prefers vanilla ice cream
Coordinating Conjunction: But
a. My mother was wearing the saree that, I gifted on her birthday.
 
Independent Clause: My mother was wearing the saree
Dependent Clause: I gifted on her birthday
Subordinating Conjunction: That
 
Exampleb. Shruthi was not able to read English, nor was able to write.
 
Independent Clause: Shruthi was not able to read
Independent Clause: Was able to write
Coordinating Conjunction: Nor
b. Before the classes start, everyone is asked to submit the assignments.
 
Independent Clause: Everyone is asked to submit the assignments
Dependent Clause: The classes start
Subordinating Conjunction: Before
Examplec. Rupam finished his work and came back home.
 
 
Independent Clause: Rupam finished his work
Independent Clause: Came back home
Coordinating Conjunction: And
c. You will not be allowed to participate in the competition unless you register your names.
 
Independent Clause: You will not be allowed to participate in the competition
Dependent Clause: You register your names Subordinating Conjunction: Unless
Exampled. My father was not feeling well, so he visited the doctor.
 
Independent Clause: My father was not feeling well
Independent Clause: He visited the doctor
Coordinating Conjunction: So
d. The match was called off because of the heavy downpour.
 
Independent Clause: The match was called off
Dependent Clause: Of the heavy downpour
Subordinating Conjunction: Because
Examplee. Everyone reached on time, but the event did not start.
 
Independent Clause: Everyone reached on time
Independent Clause: The event did not start
Coordinating Conjunction: But
e. I will buy chocolates and toys, provided, you behave good.
 
Independent Clause: I will buy chocolates and toys
Dependent Clause: You behave good
Subordinating Conjunction: Provided
Examplef. I made the main dish and my sister prepared the desserts.
 
 Independent Clause: I made the main dish
Independent Clause: My sister prepared the desserts
Coordinating Conjunction: And
f. We will visit the temple, if, it is opened.
 
Independent Clause: We will visit the temple                 
Dependent Clause: it is opened
Subordinating Conjunction: Provided
Exampleg. We had planned to go on a vacation, but it got cancelled at the last moment.
 
Independent Clause: We had planned to go on a vacation
Independent Clause: It got cancelled at the last moment
Coordinating Conjunction: But
g. After the movie was over, we went to have the dinner at our favorite restaurant.
 
Independent Clause: We went to have the dinner at our favorite restaurant
Dependent Clause: The movie was over
Subordinating Conjunction: After
Exampleh. The teacher was absent, and so the classes for the day were suspended.
 
Independent Clause: The teacher was absent
Independent Clause: The classes for the day were suspended
Coordinating Conjunction: And so
h. Wherever we went, we took our dog with us.
 
Independent Clause: We took our dog with us       
Dependent Clause: We went           
Subordinating Conjunction: Wherever
Examplei. Rekha does not speak well with everyone, for, she is an introvert.
 
Independent Clause: Rekha does not speak well with everyone
Independent Clause: She is an introvert
Coordinating Conjunction: For
i. Though she likes engineering, she chose medicine as her career because of her parent’s pressure.
 
Independent Clause: She chose medicine as her career
Dependent Clause: She likes engineering
Dependent Clause: Of her parent’s pressure
Subordinating Conjunction: Though, Because
Examplej. There were no trains available, so we travelled by flight.
 
Independent Clause: There were no trains available
Independent Clause: We travelled by flight
Coordinating Conjunction: So
j. This is the book, which, I borrowed from the library last week.
 
Independent Clause: This is the book
Dependent Clause: I borrowed from the library last week.
Subordinating Conjunction: Which

Sowndharya Jagadeeswaran

Hi... I am Sowndharya Jagadeeswaran, a university rank holder in M.A. English Literature. I have also done my master's in Business Administration. Inquisitive as I am, my interest in action-oriented research helped me publish research papers in reputed journals. Now, as a career, I am an instructor where I teach young and adorable students the intricate technicalities of Public Speaking and Creative Writing. I also enjoy writing articles on topics I specialize and research in. You can connect with me through LinkedIn.-https://www.linkedin.com/in/sowndharya-j-972378233

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