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.




In the sentence 'we went to the place where we first met', is 'where' a relative pronoun or a subordinating conjunction? Consequently, is 'we first met' a relative clause or an adverbial clause?

Hello s_cheen,

Some might argue that 'where' is not a relative pronoun, but it works like one in cases such as the sentence you ask about. I'd say that it is a relative pronoun that introduces the relative clause you suggest. A specialist in syntax might (rightly) disagree, but I'm afraid that sort of issue is not one we're concerned with here at LearnEnglish. For more explanations of this, see our relative clauses page and the Cambridge Dictionary page on relative pronouns.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Could you please tell me how to correctly use not well ?
How is it different from not only...but also ?

Hello Petals,

I'd suggest you check a corpus to see examples of how 'not just' is used. For example, if you search for 'not just' in the Corpus of Global Web-Based English (press the 'Find matching strings' button to search and then click on the words 'NOT JUST' on the next page) and you can see hundreds of sentences with 'not just' (and many of them with 'but' afterwards) in them. This should give you a very good idea of how to use it.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I'll do that, thanks.

Hi LearnEnglish,
I'm trying to fathom the place of 'discourse markers' in English grammar as they are often part of English Language marking criteria, but seem to be ill-defined. Are discourse markers essentially adverbial clauses (contrast, reason, place, purpose, result, time, conditional) and if so, how does 'illustration' fit into the markers - such as 'such as, for instance, exemplified by'.

Hi LearnEnglish,

This question is not really part of our focus here on LearnEnglish as we are a site aimed at learners of English and helping people improve their use of English, not teachers of English or students of linguistics. I think a better place for this question is our sister-site, TeachingEnglish, which is aimed at teachers and addressed issues of language analysis rather than language learning.

I will say that discourse markers are a category identified by their role rather than their form. In other words, an item is a discourse marker if it acts to organise the discourse into sections, and to show how different parts of the discourse relate to one another. They can be adverbials, but they can also be other forms too; categorising them by their form is of little value and we rather categorise them by their role (hedging, emphasising, backchannelling etc).

You may find this piece helpful - it has a useful list and categorises discourse markers helpfully, I think.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, Is the following sentence correct without the word "those" before the word "found"?

Estradiol levels in plasma are reported to increase up to 30 times higher than those found during a reproductive cycle.


Hello Muhammad Khaled,

No, the word 'those' is necessary here. Without it there is no subject for the verb 'found', which makes the sentence ungrammatical.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Could you please help me check whether I've formed the sentences correctly?

"The reason that she doesn't like dogs is that she is bitten by it in childhood."

"Is the reason that she doesn't like dogs that she is bitten by it in childhood?"

Thank you very much.