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 sir , I have a confusion with the placement of the word 'touring' in the following sentence.
My touring parents must have reached Port Blair by now.
Or should it be
My parents' touring must have reached Port Blair by now.
As per my understanding the first sentence seems correct where touring is used as an adjective. Can touring be used as a noun as in the second sentence? Can touring be placed anywhere else in the sentence?

Hello amrita,

I'm afraid that none of these sentences are idiomatic, i.e. they sound a bit strange. When it's an adjective, 'touring' tends to be used with a person or group that is constantly on tour. 'touring' can be used as a noun (e.g. 'I don't like touring') but this is also fairly rare.

Instead, I'd suggest using the noun 'tour' or even the word 'trip' if what you mean is that they are traveling. In other words, something like 'My parents' tour must have reached ...' or 'My parents, who are traveling, must have reached ...'

By the way, we have a limited capability to answer questions such as this one, which have little or nothing to do with the content on our site. Occasionally we help people with questions such as this one, but please be aware that we won't always be able to do this.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi :)
Are there rules that govern the uses of commas in sentences with conjunctions?

Hi beckysyto,

The rules for comma use are quite complication and depend upon the conjunction in question. You can find a summary of the rules here.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi all, did i understand correctly?

1: simple sentences are "always " an independent clause no matter how long the clause may be . For instance: The badly dressed woman standing right in front of you is my exgirlfriend.

2: compound sentences are two "independent" clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. For instance: She is good at tennis , and i am excellent at volley.

What if i said : She is good at tennis , but i'm beter than her? What type of sentence is this?
My question is "Should both clauses in a compound sentence be Independent"?

Hello heeppee creepy,

The answer to your last question is yes, there must be at least two independent clauses in a compound sentence. Therefore, 'She is good at tennis, but I'm better than her' is a compound sentence -- it has two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction.

And yes, simple sentences are always formed by an independent clause. In your example, however, 'standing right in front of you' is a reduced relative clause ('The ... woman who is standing right in front of you is ...' Since a relative clause is a kind of dependent clause, your example is not a simple sentence but rather a complex sentence.

The Wikipedia article on Sentence clause structure has lots of more detailed information and examples, so you might want to take a look at it as well.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Very interesting page the one you suggested! I'm actually preparing for the Cambridge advanced exam CAE,and pages like that one are like a candy bar for a little kid! If you have links to web pages with useful information for me to prepare for the exam,I would really appreciate them!

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