Simple sentences:

A simple sentence has only one clause:

The children were laughing.
John wanted a new bicycle.
All the girls are learning English.

Compound sentences:

A compound sentence has two or more clauses:

(We stayed behind) and (finished the job)
(We stayed behind) and (finished the job), then (we went home)

The clauses in a compound sentence are joined by co-ordinating conjunctions:

John shouted and everybody waved.
We looked everywhere but we couldn’t find him.
They are coming by car so they should be here soon.

The common coordinating conjunctions are:

and – but – or – nor – so – then – yet

Complex sentences:

A complex sentence has a main clause and one or more adverbial clauses. Adverbial clauses usually come after the main clause:

Her father died when she was very young
Her father died (main clause)
when (subordinating conjunction)
she was very young (adverbial clause)

She had a difficult childhood because her father died when she was very young.
She had a difficult childhood (main clause)
because (subordinating conjunction)
her father died (adverbial clause)
when (subordinating conjunction)
she was very young (adverbial clause).

Some subordinate clauses can come in front of the main clause:

Although a few snakes are dangerous most of them are quite harmless
Although (subordinating conjunction)
some snakes are dangerous (adverbial clause)
most of them are harmless (main clause).

A sentence can contain both subordinate and coordinate clauses:

Although she has always lived in France, she speaks fluent English because her mother was American and her father was Nigerian
Although (subordinating conjunction)
she has always lived in France (adverbial clause),
she speaks fluent English (main clause)
because (subordinating conjunction)
her mother was American (adverbial clause)
and (coordinating conjunction)
her father was Nigerian (adverbial clause).

There are seven types of adverbial clauses:


  Common conjunctions
Contrast clauses  although; though; even though; while;
Reason clauses because; since; as
Place clauses where; wherever; everywhere
Purpose clauses so that; so; because + want
Result clauses so that; so … that; such … that
Time clauses when; before; after; since; while; as; as soon as; by the time; until
Conditional clauses  if; unless; provided (that); as long as

Complete the sentences with conjunctions.

Match conjunctions to functions.




Hello nkmy,

Do you have a particular sentence in mind? If so, please post and we will comment.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello the LearnEnglish team,

''Wouldn't it be awkward to see what John wrote''

John hasn't written anything at the moment of saying that sentence, but I believe past simple is used in the subordinate clause because seeing happens first than writing. Correct me if I'm wrong. What would be different if I changed past simple into present perfect? For example, if I reported the sentence, I could use past simple or past perfect ''I thought if it wouldn't be awkward to see what he wrote/had written'' and with ''had written'' I'd just emphasize writing before seeing.

''I'm just gonna tell him I could only find four rocks''

In this sentence, ''I'' is saying the sentence and looking for more rocks afterward(after saying it). Why then ''could'' is used since it refers to the past(finished action)? Is it similar to above but in this case, finding is before speaking?

Thank you very much.

Hello JakiGeh,

We can't really answer too many of these kinds of questions as they require long explanations of multiple issues. This is really what a teacher is for, not the comments section of this site. These are discussions which take place in a lesson context; for us to explain how form x is different from form y, relating it to different contexts and nuances of meaning, is effectively to provide you with a personal lesson and, nice though it would be, it's not possible for our small team here to do this for so many users.

Where questions are brief and concrete we are happy to help as well as we can, but we can't answer questions which require long context-dependent explanations. For example, the difference between 'wrote' and 'had written' here is dependent on the context, not the structure. However, there are other problems with the sentence beyond this, such as the 'I thought if it wouldn't...' part, which seems unlikely to be correct (though perhaps a context could be invented for this also).

In reference to your first question, in the sentence

Wouldn't it be awkward to see what John wrote?

the writing already exists; John wrote something before this is said. If the writing has not yet happened then we would say:

Wouldn't it be awkward to see what John writes?

In your final sentence the person is stopping looking for the rocks and is telling us what he or she will say to explain his failure to find more than four. There is no indication that the seach will continue - in fact, the implication is that it is over.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there!
I'm doing an exercise on sentence structure and this sentence is classified as simple:

"The grungy, grumpy, grouchy Giant grew tired of his frowny pout and hired me and Lee to lift the corners of his crumblin' mouth."

I kind of agree that this is a simple sentence, as I see the compound predicate with the two verbs ("grew tired" and "hired") and only one subject ("giant"). But what is the bit at the end: "to lift the corners [...] mouth" ???

There is another verb there, so is it a dependent clause? My gut tells me it's something else, but I'm really confused by this. Could you please shed some light on this issue?

Hi claudiaes,

I'm afraid this is not the right site for this question. We are a site providing free materials for language learners and also what help we can with those materials. This is a question of linguistics - the analysis of language as a system outside of its practical communicative role. Beyond that, we do not provide an answer service for tasks from elsewhere since, as I'm sure you could imagine, we would end up doing people's homework or task work for them.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


I've just read this sentence.
Impressionists took an interest in the daily lives of ordinary people in the cities, which were expanding in both size and in their range of culture and entertainment.

So I'm wondering now if it's ok to use 'both A and B' this way.
A frog can live in both water and on land.

Thanks a lot and have a nice day;)

Hello Gary_Lee,

Yes, it's fine to use that form. Your example is correct.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter,

Could you please tell (say?) whether they following constructions are grammatically accurate and clarify the differences in terms of time references:

1. It is a small price (sleepless night with a small baby) to pay for mum TO HAVE HAD such a wonderful time.

2. It is a small price (sleepless night with a small baby) to pay for mum HAVING HAD such a wonderful time.

3. It is a small price (sleepless night with a small baby) to pay for mum HAVING such a wonderful time.

4. It is a small price (sleepless night with a small baby) to pay for mum TO HAVE such a wonderful time.

Thank you very much!

Warm wishes,

Hi Sir,
My class has been struggling in some transformations of sentences and my teacher assigned me the task to find the answer for the hard transformation.It is as listed below:

1.Complex to simple
Sentence: Tell me when and where you were born.

Waiting for a reply

Hello Sharvesh,

For this kind of question, please ask your teacher. Our primary role here is to help people use our site or answer questions related to what's on LearnEnglish. Occasionally we answer other questions, but for questions related to what you're doing in class, you should ask your teacher.

Thank you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team