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 heeppee creepy,

Next time I refer my students to a grammar explanation, I'll tell them it's a candy bar :-)

As far as I know, the British Council doesn't have any pages dedicated specifically to the CAE. The good news is that there are a lot of useful resources out there and I'm sure you can find some by doing an internet search -- I'd also recommend searching for 'CAE' in YouTube. One last useful resource is our Facebook page, where we post links on exam preparation from time to time.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Hi kirk, this will sound strange to you, but I still don't undertand what an "independent clause" is .
It can sometimes be identified readily,but it's very confusing at other times. For instance: I love watching football with my friends ,but my wife hates cooking for too many people . In this compound sentence, I can easily find the two independent clauses: "I like watching football with my friends"And "My wife hates cooking for too many people". Why do I notice them easily? Because they can stand on their own; they are complete thoughts with a very clear meaning separately.I could perfectly say "my wife hates cooking for too many people" and anybody would understand the intended meaning without further information. But " I'm better than her" doesn't seem to be an independent clause. I would have to ask " How are you better than her?" "What sport do you play better than her?" In terms of what concept is a clause regarded as an "independent one? I'm sure there must be a simple answer for this,and I'm sure you can give it to me !

Hello heeppee creepy,

Don't worry -- it's not strange at all! An independent clause always has a subject and a verb that together express a complete thought (as in your good examples). Dependent clauses normally begin with some kind of subordinating conjunction (also called 'dependent markers') and then there is a subject and verb, but the dependent marker makes the thought incomplete. Some common dependent markers are 'as', 'because', 'when', 'after' ... there is a long list and if you do an internet search for them I'm sure you can find a good list.

For example, 'I washed the dishes' is independent, but if I add 'When' to the beginning ('When I washed the dishes'), it becomes a subordinate clause, because the idea of 'when' makes it incomplete -- something else is needed for the thought to be complete.

Your example 'I'm better than her' is actually an independent clause because it does express a complete thought. You're right in thinking that some information is not there, but it can be inferred from the context.

I found another page in the Cambridge Dictionary which I think might be even more useful than the Wikipedia article, as it has lots of examples. Please take a look.

But if you have any other questions, just let us know.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Hello Sir
Could I use 'would' instead of 'will' in the following sentence?
By the time I get to New York he will be gone. Because this is something that you assume. I think so. I hope I am correct.
Thank you.

Hello Andrew international,

You would need to change 'get' to 'got' to maintain consistency. The sentence is essentially a conditional form without 'if' and it requires consistency in terms of likely/unlikely between the condition (get/got) and result (will/would).


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hey there,

Getting confused in one respect: why is "so" considered a co-ordinating conjunction while "because" is considered a subordinating conjunction? Isn't saying "Y because X." the same as saying "X so Y."?

According to the difference between "so" and "because" presented above, the equivalent sentences:

"They are coming by car so they should be here soon." would be a compound sentence, while

"They should be here soon because they are coming by car." would be a complex sentence.

What is the difference here?

Hello  9erik1,

That's a good question and it's not one that has an obvious answer. The question of why so and because are not treated the same is one that has been discussed in linguistics quite a lot. For a good overview of the topic I recommend this post by Neal Whitman. The whole thing is worth reading but the relevant section for your question starts on page 2.

An argument has even been made that because is not a conjunction at all. It's a thought-provoking argument and is made here by a serious academic.

I hope those links provide some illumination. It is, as I said, a complex issue and not one with a straightforward answer, making your post, as I also said, a very good question.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

In the sentence, "There is a boy", which is the subject, and which is the predicate.


Hello Adya's,

'boy' is the subject and 'there' is the dummy subject

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, it is written in the that "Don't use ‘and’ to link adjectives when you want them to contrast with each other"

Does it mean the following sentence is wrong?

An octopus has no bones, eight long arms and a soft round body.

Should I use conjunction "but" in the sentence above?

An octopus has eight long arms and a soft round body but it has no bones.