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.




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.

Hi Hugong,

Those are fine apart from one error: you should say 'was bitten' in each sentence rather than 'is bitten'.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

Thanks for pointing that out. Is the reason that was bitten used because it happened in the past? But doesn't in your present simple passage say that present tense can be used to talk about the past as well?

Is second sentence correct? Because I find the structure a little weird. Subconsciously I always think that there should be another "is" between dogs and that for the question to be correct, but is it?

Thanks so much.

Hello Hugong,

It is possible to use present tenses to talk about the past, but only in certain contexts such as when telling a joke or an anecdote, or when commentating on events (football matches and so on); these are really stylistic choices when we are 'performing' to an audience so that what we are saying sounds more immediate. In most usage we need to use a past tense to talk about completed past events such as the one in your example.

The second 'is' is not needed as your sentence is a question. If it were a statement then there would be an 'is' where you indicate.

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?


Best wishes and good luck!


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

Now I get it. Thank you very much for your detailed explanation.


Hi, firstly thank you for all your work. I am very confused about dividing a sentence into its clause. If the sentence has a basic structure it's easy otherwise it's just confusing. For example the below text. I have tried to divide into its clauses but couldn't success. Can you help me and explain what is the easiest way to divide a sentence into its clauses.
Here is my text;
"Previous research has identified several factors that impact the success of refugees’ settlement in their new country. These include participation in paid employment, language proficiency, and discrimination. English proficiency and experiences of discrimination also affect refugees’ sense of belonging to and engagement in the community. Moreover, these factors are likely to interact in their impact on refugee resettlement, such that, for example, lack of English proficiency results in reluctance to participate in activities in the broader community, which, in turn, can mean fewer opportunities for practicing English and developing networks, both of which could lead to better employment and social outcomes. However, few studies have examined several factors in combination. In the present study we did this using Jenson’s framework of social cohesion, investigating the factors that enhance or disrupt belonging, participation, inclusion, recognition, and legitimacy for refugees in Australian communities. It was our aim to analyze the factors impacting social cohesion and their interrelationships instead of simply describing refugees’ experiences."
Kind regards