Today, we are going to do an important grammar lesson. I will show you what a complex sentence is and then give lots of examples so that you can understand how to make them by yourself.

What is a complex sentence?

A complex sentence has one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. The two clauses will be connected by a linking word. For example:

  • She is hungry because she hasn’t eaten all day.
  • I am annoyed that you didn’t call me.

In each of these examples, there are two clauses joined by a linking word (because; that).

Let’s look in more detail to understand this better.

How can you connect clauses in a complex sentence?

As we saw above, complex sentences join dependent and independent clauses with the use of a linking word. There are two types of linking words:

  1. Subordinating conjunctions (although, while, because, despite, when, etc)
  2. Relative pronouns (which, that, who, where, etc)

Importantly, these linking words come at the beginning of the dependent clause.

When we use subordinating conjunctions, we follow these formulas for complex sentences:


For example:

  • We went inside because it was raining.
  • Because it was raining, we went inside.

As for relative clauses… Well, to be honest, most grammar lessons feature these as separate from complex sentences with subordinating conjunctions. You can learn all about relative clauses here.

Examples of Complex Sentences

Let’s see some more examples of complex sentences:

  • Even though it was raining, Jane decided to go for a run in the park.
  • Since I have a meeting at noon, I need to finish this report quickly.
  • The dog barked loudly whenever the postman came to the house.
  • After I finish my homework, I’ll join you for dinner.
  • Because the traffic was heavy, we arrived at the airport later than expected.
  • Even though she studied hard, Maria didn’t perform well on the exam.

What’s the difference between a complex sentence and a compound sentence?

A complex sentence is made up of an independent clause and a dependent clause. A compound sentence is made up of two independent clauses. For example:

  • COMPLEX: I didn’t sleep last night because it was too hot.
  • COMPOUND: I didn’t sleep last night; it was too hot.

This is an example of a compound sentence that uses a semi-colon to split the two independent clauses but there are other formulas:


We can either use a comma and a coordinating conjunction or a semi-colon and a conjunctive adverb.

You can read about the difference between subordinating conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs here. It’s not as difficult as it sounds!

3 types of conjunctions

You can find out all about compound sentence formulas here.

What are the other types of sentences?

In English, we have four sentence types:

  1. Simple
  2. Complex
  3. Compound
  4. Compound-complex

It is often said that the complex sentence is the most commonly used one.

Why do we use complex sentences?

Look at these sentences:

  1. I was tired. I went to the shop.
  2. I was tired but I went to the shop.
  3. Although I was tired, I went to the shop.

What’s the difference?

The main idea is basically the same in each sentence but there are subtle differences.

Sentence #1 is really basic and there’s no logical connection between the two ideas.

Sentence #2 is much better and shows a logical connection.

Sentence #3 (a complex sentence) is probably the best of them because it shows more meaning. Specifically, it shows “I was tired” being less important than the act of going to the shop. Thus, going to the shop is more importance.

Note that “subordinate” means less important, so subordinating conjunctions make that part of the sentence less important. This helps provide an extra layer of meaning to a sentence.