Compound-Complex Sentence

Definition with Examples

Compound-Complex sentence, as the name suggests is a combination of combination of Compound and Complex sentence. We know that a Compound sentence is formed by joining two independent clauses and a Complex sentence is formed by joining an independent clause with a subordinate clause. A Compound-Complex sentence; therefore must have at least two independent clauses and one or more subordinate clause. We will further clear our concept of Compound-Complex sentences by a suitable example.

First read the Compound Sentence given below-

* I lost my purse but there was no money in it.

The sentence is Compound, as it is combination of two independent clauses- ‘I lost my purse’, ‘there was no money in it’; joined by a coordinating conjunction-‘but’ (Remember FANBOYS)

Now we will form a Complex Sentence-

* I reported the theft because my ID was in the purse.

The above sentence is a Complex Sentence as it has one independent clause-‘I reported the theft’ and one subordinate or dependent clause- ‘because my ID was in the purse’; where ‘because’ is  a Subordinating conjunction.

Now consider the sentence given below-

* Because my ID was in the purse, I reported the theft, but there was no money in it.

The above sentence is a complex compound sentence, as it has two independent clauses and one subordinate clause. ‘Because my ID was in the purse’ is the subordinate clause and ‘I reported the theft’, ‘there was no money in it’ are the two independent clauses.

You should be very careful before forming a compound-complex sentence and using coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions and Relative Pronouns. Forming correct compound-complex sentences is only possible if you are well versed with compound sentences and complex sentences.

We will analyze one more example of compound-complex sentence, to clear our concept-

* Though Oliver likes coffee, he ordered tea, and he enjoyed it very much.

Reading carefully we know that the sentence begins with a subordinate clause- ‘though Oliver likes coffee’ because ‘though’ is a subordinating conjunction. The sentence has two independent clauses- ‘he ordered tea’ and ‘he enjoyed it very much’ where ‘and’ is a coordinating conjunction.

Parts of Compound-Complex Sentence

Though we already know that a compound complex sentence is formed by at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent or subordinate clause, we will quickly go through the parts of compound complex sentences once again; so that to make you well versed with formation of compound complex sentence-

1) Independent Clause

Any sentence which can stand out on its own is an independent clause. For Example-

  • I am going to college.
  • She was writing a letter.
  • They are ready to work.

2) Coordinating Conjunction

There are seven coordinating conjunctions used to join independent clauses- for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so; which can be remembered by FANBOYS-  F (for) A (and) N (nor) B (but) O (or) Y (yet) S (so).

Some examples sentences using coordinating conjunctions are-

  • She is working overtime for her children.
  • He tried really hard but couldn’t make it through.
  • He has got all the money yet he is not happy.

3) Transitional Expression

Transitional Expressions are used to join two independent clauses. For Examples- however, therefore, moreover, nevertheless, further, indeed, neither, either, also, as a matter of fact, furthermore, besides, in addition to, in fact, actually, let alone, too, additionally, alternately, on the contrary, not to mention .

Example sentences using transitional expressions are-

  • He was not well; however, he managed to come.
  • She wanted to go; therefore, she was happy.
  • I will not go there; let alone, getting ready for it.

4) Dependent/Subordinate Clause

A dependent or subordinating clause is the sentence which cannot stand alone on its own. A subordinate clause needs to be joined by an independent clause to make the sentence meaningful. Below are some examples of subordinate clauses-

  • After he reaches here.
  • Before I finish my lunch.
  • Who was standing at the balcony.
  • Provided that he agrees.

The above sentences seem incomplete and needs to be joined by an independent sentence to be meaningful-

  • We will meet him after he reaches there.
  • You have to return before I finish my lunch.
  • Oliver called the boy who was standing at the balcony.
  • We will invite him provided that he agrees.

5) Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating Conjunctions are used to join independent clause and subordinate clause. Following is the list of subordinating conjunction- After, before, so that, although, whenever, even though, though, as, where, if, whereas, unless, until, whether, because, since, while, when, even if, in order that, once, rather, provided that, than, wherever, why. For Ex-

  • He will receive your call after he reaches home.
  • You prepare the food while I clean up the table.
  • Because you are late, you cannot go inside.

6) Relative Pronouns

Relative Pronouns are used for joining an independent clause with a subordinate clause. Examples of Relative Pronoun are-    that, which, whichever, who, whoever, whom, whose, whosever, whomever. Example sentences-

  • He called the boy who was standing at the balcony.
  • Oliver gave his pen to Julie, who was writing an exam.

A Complex-Compound sentence is the amalgamation of the above parts. i.e. it is an union of at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent/subordinate clause.

How To Write A Compound – Complex Sentence

There are four steps to successfully form a Compound-Complex Sentence. The steps are explained below-

Step 1: Form An Independent Clause

Think about a subject and form an independent clause; that is a complete sentence with a meaningful conclusion.

  • The dog was barking.

The above sentence is very much an independent clause as it stands out having a clear inference.

Step 2: Form Second Independent clause

The second independent clause should be about the same subject and must be deeply connected to the first independent clause. The second clause should continue describing the same subject or his actions. Go through the below sentences-

  • The dog was running inside the property.

The above sentence is an Independent clause as it can stand out on its own and it also elaborates the same subject- The dog.

Step 3: Form the Subordinate Clause

The subordinate clause should provide more information to the subject and the independent clauses. I could tell us when it happened (when), why it happened (why), where it happened (where), any alternate incident (while) etc. Now we will go through a subordinate clause, which could be related to the above independent clauses-

  • While I drove along the road.

Very clearly, the sentence is a subordinate Clause.

Step 4: Join the Clauses

To successfully form Compound – Complex sentences we have to join all the above sentences with the help of conjunctions. Care must be taken that the combined sentences must convey the information which they conveyed individually.

For our ease we will write the sentences below-

  • The dog was barking.
  • The dog was running inside the property.
  • While I drove along the road.

Now the first step is to join the two independent clauses with conjunction (FANBOYS), and get a Compound Sentence-

  • The dog was barking and running inside the property.

Finally the independent clause is joined to the above compound sentence to make a Compound-complex sentence as given below-

  • The dog was barking and running inside the property while I drove along the road.

You can found more Compound-complex sentences with as many clauses as you want but be careful about the dependent and independent clauses as well as the use of conjunctions.

Avoid Run On Sentences

A Run On sentence is the one which uses too many commas and lacks connecting words; to make an effective statement. Go through the below statement-

  • He is late, he is worried, don’t call him.

The above statement has three independent clauses but lacks proper punctuation. The over use of comma in a statement is called comma splice.

The above statement must be corrected with proper use of connectors, like in the sentence below-

  • He is late and he is worried, don’t call him.

Remember that it is proper to use semicolon (;) to connect two sentences without any connectors. For Ex-

  • He is late; he is worried; don’t call him.
  • He is late and he is worried; don’t call him.
  • He is late and he is worried, so don’t call him.

Finally, that we are well versed with the formation of Compound-Complex sentences, we will go through few more examples before moving on to the exercises-

  • When I grow up, I want to be an officer, as it is my dream.
  • Before you call him, make the food ready and prepare the table.
  • Let the dogs out and lock the door, before you leave.
  • He is going there for meeting his friend who lives nearby.
  • Oliver is not ready but he is coming with us; although he is not well.
  • I have money yet I am not happy as money isn’t everything.
  • Actually he wanted to go, with you at the party; whether you like it or not.
  • She was talking to someone; therefore, not responding while you frantically called her.
  • In addition to all the money he has; he has got good friends too, than anyone else.
  • Either he is going to college or he is going to party after you leave him out.

A careful examination of the above sentences will reveal that the above sentences have at least two independent clauses and one dependent clause. Try to frame new compound-Complex sentences, taking guidance from the methods explained above.

Worksheet with Answers

MCQ Exercises/Worksheet/Activities on Compound-Complex Sentences with Answers:

Choose the correct answer for the question from the choices given. At last you can refer to the answers provided in the end of the exercise.

1) Is the statement True or False: A Compound-complex Sentence is not the same as Complex-Compound sentence.

  1. a) True
  2. b) False

2) A Compound-Complex Sentence is formed by joining

  1. a) at least one compound and one complex sentence
  2. b) two or more compound sentences
  3. c) two or more complex sentences

3) The role of conjunctions in a Compound-complex sentence is to-

  1. a) join statements together
  2. b) they are not useful
  3. c) better to avoid conjunctions

4) What is ‘yet’

  1. a) subordinate conjunction
  2. b) coordinating conjunction
  3. c) relative pronoun
  4. d) transitional expression

5) Transitional Expressions are used to join

  1. a) two independent clauses
  2. b) two dependent clauses

6) Therefore, moreover are examples of

  1. a) coordinating conjunction
  2. b) subordinating conjunction
  3. c) transitional expression

7) Subordinating conjunctions are used to join

  1. a) two subordinating clauses
  2. b) two independent clauses
  3. c) an independent and a dependent clause

8) after, even if, while are examples of

  1. a) Relative Pronoun
  2. b) subordinating conjunction
  3. c) coordinating conjunction

9) That, which, whichever are examples of

  1. a) Relative pronoun
  2. b) coordinating conjunction
  3. c) subordinating conjunctions

10) “After he meets you, he will write the letter and inform the authorities”.

What is the Subordinate Clause in the above sentence-

  1. a) He will write the letter
  2. b) inform the authorities
  3. c) after he meets you

11) “Tom will stay and look after the house while we are out”.

Which following statements are correct with regard to the above sentence-

  1. i) It has three subordinate clauses
  2. ii) it has two dependent and one independent clause

iii) ‘while we are out’ is a dependent clause

  1. iv) ‘tom will stay’, ‘look after the house’ are independent clauses
  2. v) ‘while we are out’ is a subordinate Clause.
  3. a) only i) and v)
  4. b) only iii) is incorrect
  5. c) Only i), iii) and v) are correct
  6. d) only ii), iv) and v) are correct

Complete the following Sentences by choosing correct conjunctions from the choices given below:

12) __________ he gets here, we have to clean up the mess _______ prepare dinner.

  1. a) before, for
  2. b) after, in fact
  3. c) before, and

13) He is eating ______ he don’t like the food, as he is non vegetarian.

  1. a) and
  2. b) yet
  3. c) moreover

14) He is coming here; ________ his friends are also coming, ________ we get to know each other.

  1. a) however, let alone
  2. b) moreover, so that
  3. c) and, additionally

15) She was calling your name ______ she was calling someone else, because I heard it right.

  1. a) for
  2. b) nor
  3. c) or

16) I want to sleep, _______ I have to make the bed after we have dinner.

  1. a) but
  2. b) and
  3. c) for

17) We went on picnic, but were not very happy, ________ it started raining.

  1. a) so that
  2. b) because
  3. c) although

18)I don’t like junk food;__________ I take home made food with me, while on tours.

  1. a) however
  2. b) after
  3. c) therefore

19)________ he is out, you do the work _________ you like it or not.

  1. a) while, whether
  2. b) since, furthermore
  3. c) once, rather

20) _______ his phone is not working, he cannot talk to you and restless.

  1. a) however
  2. b) because
  3. c) whether

21) He doesn’t like parties, ________ he accepted your invitation, _________ he likes you.

  1. a) however, indeed
  2. b) although, because
  3. c) yet, because

22) __________ all the house work, she does all the office work ________ she wants or not.

  1. a) in addition to, whether
  2. b) however, because
  3. c) not to mention, since

23) The dog was furious _______ it was barking, ____________ it was securely chained.

  1. a) nor, in addition to
  2. b) and, although
  3. c) yet, however

24) He knows three languages ________ two extinct languages, ________ she was a language student.

  1. a) although, actually
  2. b) which, furthermore
  3. c) besides, since

25) He was absent ______ he missed the event, ________ everyone enjoyed.

  1. a) so, even though
  2. b) therefore, when
  3. c) however, in fact

Answers- 1)b, 2)a, 3)a, 4)b, 5)a, 6)c, 7)c, 8)b, 9)a, 10)c, 11)d, 12)c, 13)a, 14)b, 15)c, 16)a, 17)b, 18)c, 19)a, 20)b, 21)c, 22)a, 23)b, 24)c, 25)a

Formation of Compound-Complex Sentence Exercises

Form the compound-complex sentences by joining the following sentences, using proper connecting words. Check your progress with the answers provided in the end.


  • I was sitting.
  • I was reading a book.
  • when the dog started barking.


  • Oliver is happy.
  • Oliver was not looking happy.
  • Oliver doesn’t want to show his happiness.


  • Peter was sick.
  • Peter couldn’t attend the meeting.
  • Even if the meeting is important.


  • Tom was hungry.
  • Tom ordered a large pizza.
  • Tom had no money.


  • She was nervous.
  • She badly needed the job.
  • She was going through a financial crisis.


1) I was sitting and reading a book, when the dog started barking.

2) Oliver was happy but not looking happy because he doesn’t want to show it.

3) Peter was sick so he couldn’t attend the meeting, even if it is important.

4) Tom was hungry; therefore he ordered a pizza, although he had no money.

5) She was nervous for she badly needed the job, because she was going through a financial crisis.

Related Links:

Simple Sentence
Compound Sentence
Complex Sentence

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