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Compound Sentences vs. Complex Sentences: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 24, 2024
Compound sentences join two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction, while complex sentences combine an independent clause with one or more dependent clauses.
Compound Sentences vs. Complex Sentences

Key Differences

Compound Sentences are formed by joining two or more independent clauses, each capable of standing alone as a sentence, using coordinating conjunctions like 'and', 'but', or 'or'. They show a relationship between equally important ideas.
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Feb 24, 2024
Complex Sentences, on the other hand, consist of an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses connected by subordinating conjunctions like 'because', 'since', or 'although'. They highlight a primary idea and additional or subordinate details.
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In Compound Sentences, the clauses are joined to show a balance or contrast in ideas. Each clause in a compound sentence has equal importance and can stand alone as a complete sentence.
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Complex Sentences are used to emphasize one part of the sentence over the other. The dependent clause in a complex sentence cannot stand alone and is used to provide additional context or detail to the main clause.
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While Compound Sentences are straightforward in their structure, Complex Sentences can provide more nuanced and detailed information, often indicating cause and effect, conditions, or contrasts.
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Comparison Chart

Structure

Two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction
One independent clause and at least one dependent clause
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Clauses

Equally important clauses
One main clause and subordinate clauses
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Dependency

No dependent clauses
Contains dependent clauses
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Conjunctions Used

Coordinating conjunctions (e.g., and, but, or)
Subordinating conjunctions (e.g., because, since, although)
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Purpose

To balance or contrast equal ideas
To emphasize main ideas while providing additional details
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Compound Sentences and Complex Sentences Definitions

Compound Sentences

A sentence with two or more independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction.
I wanted to buy a book, but the store was closed.
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Complex Sentences

A sentence combining one independent clause with at least one dependent clause.
Although it was raining, we went for a walk.
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Compound Sentences

A sentence that combines multiple statements, each able to stand alone.
He ran fast, so he won the race.
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Complex Sentences

A sentence that includes a subordinate clause to provide additional context.
Because she practiced daily, she improved her skills.
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Compound Sentences

Two or more simple sentences joined to express related thoughts.
She danced gracefully, and the audience applauded.
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Complex Sentences

A complex sentence uses subordinating conjunctions to connect ideas.
As the sun rose, the city awoke.
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Compound Sentences

A compound sentence contains clauses that could be sentences on their own.
The sun set, and the stars appeared.
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Complex Sentences

A sentence structure where a main clause is supplemented by a subordinate clause.
When he finished his work, he went home.
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Compound Sentences

A grammatical structure where two complete thoughts are connected with a conjunction.
She loves painting, and he enjoys writing.
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Complex Sentences

A sentence that expresses a complete thought and additional information.
She smiled as she remembered the journey.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are compound sentences longer than complex sentences?

Not necessarily; length depends on the clauses, not the sentence type.
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Do complex sentences always have subordinating conjunctions?

Usually, complex sentences use subordinating conjunctions to link the dependent clause.
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Can a sentence be both compound and complex?

Yes, it's called a compound-complex sentence.
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How do you identify a compound sentence?

Look for two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction like 'and', 'but', or 'or'.
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What is an example of a complex sentence?

"Although she was tired, she finished her work."
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What punctuation is typical in compound sentences?

Commas before the conjunctions and sometimes semicolons.
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What is a compound sentence?

A sentence with at least two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction.
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What are some common subordinating conjunctions in complex sentences?

Examples include 'because', 'since', 'although', 'if', and 'while'.
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Can a compound sentence use a semicolon?

Yes, if the independent clauses are closely related and not joined by a conjunction.
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What is a complex sentence?

A sentence that combines an independent clause with one or more dependent clauses.
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Can complex sentences help in academic writing?

Yes, they're useful for detailed explanations and arguments.
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Can a complex sentence start with a dependent clause?

Yes, and it often leads to a comma after the dependent clause.
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Are complex sentences more sophisticated than compound sentences?

They can be, as they often provide more depth and detail.
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Are there any limits on the number of dependent clauses in a complex sentence?

No strict limit, but clarity and readability should be maintained.
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Why use compound sentences?

To express related, equally important ideas in a balanced way.
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Why use complex sentences?

To provide more detailed information and show the relationship between ideas.
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Can a compound sentence have more than two clauses?

Yes, as long as they are independent and properly connected.
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What's a common mistake when writing compound sentences?

Using a comma without a coordinating conjunction, leading to a comma splice.
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How does context influence the use of compound or complex sentences?

It depends on the need for detail or the desire to show balanced ideas.
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Is a dependent clause in a complex sentence a complete thought?

No, it cannot stand alone as a complete sentence.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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