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Complex Sentences

What is a complex sentence?


A complex sentence is made up of one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.

Q: Who remembers what two things a clause always has?

Q: Who remembers what two things a clause always has?


A: A clause always has a subject and a verb.

Q: Who remembers what the difference is between a dependent and an independent clause?

Q: Who remembers what the difference is between a dependent and an independent clause?
A: A dependent clause cannot stand alone as a sentence. An independent clause can.

Some examples:
Dependent clauses are in [brackets]. Independent clauses are in italics. [After he graduates], Conrad wants to tour Mexico. I recommend you buy the vehicle [that has the least impact on the environment]. Youll never understand the experience of being homeless [unless you live through it].

Q: If all clauses have subjects and verbs, what makes a clause dependent?
A: Dependent clauses begin with dependent words like subordinating conjunctions (full list pg. 249) and relative pronouns (full list pg. 255).

When dependent clauses stand alone, they are sentence fragments.


For example:
Although people are marrying later in life. Before he quit his job. Who work out regularly. That I wrote.

To be complete sentences, they need to be combined with an independent clause.


For example:
[Although people are marrying later in life], the divorce rate hasnt increased. Greg made sure to save several thousand dollars [before he quit his job]. Athletes [who work out regularly] will stay in shape. The letter [that I wrote] was not published.

Here are the sample complex sentences again with the dependent words underlined. Which are subordinating conjunctions and which are relative pronouns?
[After he graduates], Conrad wants to tour Mexico. I recommend you buy the vehicle [that has the least impact on the environment].

Youll never understand the experience of being homeless [unless you live through it].

Practice Using Subordinate Conjunctions


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a subordinating conjunction. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 249 for the full list.)

1. I aced my art history exam. I studied for three hours last night.

Practice Using Subordinate Conjunctions


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a subordinating conjunction. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 249 for the full list.)

1. I aced my art history exam. I studied for three hours last night. I aced by art history exam because I studied for three hours.

Practice Using Subordinate Conjunctions


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a subordinating conjunction. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 249 for the full list.)

2. I kept the music low. My roommate left.

Practice Using Subordinate Conjunctions


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a subordinating conjunction. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 249 for the full list.)

2. I kept the music low. My roommate left. I kept the music low until my roommate left.

Practice Using Subordinate Conjunctions


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a subordinating conjunction. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 249 for the full list.)

3. The friends were in the restaurant. They gossiped about their coworkers.

Practice Using Subordinate Conjunctions


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a subordinating conjunction. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 249 for the full list.)

3. The friends were in the restaurant. They gossiped about their coworkers. While the friends were in the restaurant, they gossiped about their coworkers.

Who vs. Which vs. That


Use who when referring to people.
Anya is the one who rescued the bird.

Who vs. Which vs. That


Use which or that when referring to groups or things.
Luke is on the team that won first place.

Who vs. Which vs. That


Use that when introducing information that is essential to understanding.
I do not trust products that claim "all natural ingredients" because this phrase can mean almost anything. We would not know which products were being discussed without the that clause.

Who vs. Which vs. That


Use which when adding information that is not essential (that just adds detail).
The product claiming "all natural ingredients," which appeared in the Sunday newspaper, is on sale. The product is already identified. Therefore, which begins a nonessential clause.

A Note about Commas


You dont need a comma when adding essential information. Easier way to remember? 1. Never put a comma before dependent clauses starting with that. 2. Always put a comma before dependent clauses starting with which.

Translation:
Dont use commas before or after a dependent clause that is necessary to identify what it refers to, as in the following example: The letter to the editor that Anita wrote was published in the local newspaper. In contrast, use commas when the dependent clause gives information that is not essential to the sentence: The letter, which is on the topic of school funding, is still in my backpack. The letter is still in my backpack, which is stuffed with books, binders, and notebooks.

Practice Using Relative Pronouns


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a relative pronoun. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 255 for the full list.) 1. Dorothy made cupcakes. They were moist and delicious.

Practice Using Relative Pronouns


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a relative pronoun. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 255 for the full list.) 1. Dorothy made cupcakes. They were moist and delicious. Dorothy made cupcakes, which were moist and delicious.

Practice Using Relative Pronouns


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a relative pronoun. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 255 for the full list.) Meet me in the classroom. It is the one I told you about yesterday.

Practice Using Relative Pronouns


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a relative pronoun. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 255 for the full list.) 2. Meet me in the classroom. It is the one I told you about yesterday. Meet me in the classroom that I told you about yesterday.

Practice Using Relative Pronouns


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a relative pronoun. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 255 for the full list.) 3. She belongs to an organization. It specializes in saving endangered species.

Practice Using Relative Pronouns


Combine the following pairs of sentences using a relative pronoun. Add or delete words as necessary. (Turn to pg. 255 for the full list.) 3. She belongs to an organization. It specializes in saving endangered species. She belongs to an organization that specializes in saving endangered species.